Taking selfies–yes, the word everybody loves to hate–may play a role in improving skin conditions without having to visit a dermatologist.
According to findings published online October 22, 2014 in the journal JAMA Dermatology, researchers from the University of Denver, Colorado, studied a total of 156 participants who had eczema.(1) Half of the participants physically visited their dermatologist while the other half received an online treatment plan based on images they took of their face (selfies), then uploaded for professional assessment.(1)
After one year, absence or near absence of eczema was obtained by nearly 44 percent of patients who had in-person care, compared to 38 percent–only a slight drop less–of those who received only online care.
In particular, the online assessments are referred to as “teledermatology,” meaning that skin is assessed in a way that bypasses the traditional in-person visit to a doctor’s office. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s the “remote delivery of dermatologic services and clinical information using telecommunications technology.”(2)
The Advantage of Teledermatology
While many feel that face-to-face visits with dermatologists, rather than mere selfies, are best in order to foster a strong patient-doctor relationship, there are those who are entirely on board with the notion of teledermatology.
Such web-based care, according to Dr. Gary Goldenberg of New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital, “would be especially important for patients that live in rural areas or those that have transportation issues.”(1,3) Furthermore, he pointed out that the end-goal of improving skin was achieved, noting that “…patients’ eczema improved regardless whether they saw the doctor for follow-up in the office or communicated online.”(1)
Lead study author April W. Armstrong speaks of teledermatology’s convenience saying, “Health services delivery in dermatology is an exciting and evolving field. With the changing health care environment and a growing demand for dermatologic services, technology-enabled health care delivery models have the potential to increase access and improve outcomes.”(3)
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