Conference Coverage

Consider the mnemonic ‘CLEAR’ when counseling acne patients



When counseling patients with acne about a treatment plan, consider the mnemonic “CLEAR,” advises Julie C. Harper, MD, who came up with this aid to use when treating this group of patients.

During a presentation at Medscape Live’s annual Coastal Dermatology Symposium, Dr. Harper, who practices at Dermatology and Skin Care of Birmingham, Ala., elaborated on the mnemonic, as follows:

C: Communicate expectations. “I look right at the acne patient and say, ‘I know you don’t just want to be better; I know you want to be clear,’ ” she said at the meeting. “ ‘That’s my goal for you, too. That may take us more than one visit and more than one treatment, but I am on your team, and that’s what we’re shooting for.’ If you don’t communicate that, they’re going to think that their acne is not that important to you.”

L: Listen for clues to customize the patient’s treatment. “We’re quick to say, ‘my patients don’t do what I recommend,’ or ‘they didn’t do what the last doctor recommended,’ ” Dr. Harper said. “Sometimes that is true, but there may be a reason why. Maybe the medication was too expensive. Maybe it was bleaching their fabrics. Maybe the regimen was too complex. Listen for opportunities to make adjustments to get their acne closer to clear.”

E: Treat early to improve quality of life and to decrease the risk of scarring. “I have a laser in my practice that is good at treating acne scarring,” she said. “Do I ever look at my patient and say, ‘don’t worry about those scars; I can make them go away?’ No. I look at them and say, ‘we can maybe make this 40% better,’ something like that. We have to prevent acne scars, because we’re not good at treating them.”

A: Treat aggressively with more combination therapies, more hormonal therapies, more isotretinoin, and perhaps more prior authorizations. She characterized the effort to obtain a prior authorization as “our megaphone back to insurance companies that says, ‘we think it is worth taking the time to do this prior authorization because the acne patient will benefit.’ ”

R: Don’t resist isotretinoin. Dr. Harper, who began practicing dermatology more than 20 years ago, said that over time, she has gradually prescribed more isotretinoin for her patients with acne. “It’s not a first-line [treatment], but I’m not afraid of it. If I can’t get somebody clear on other oral or topical treatments, we are going to try isotretinoin.”

The goal of acne treatment, she added, is to affect four key aspects of pathogenesis: follicular epithelial hyperproliferation, inflammation, Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes), and sebum. “That’s what we’re always shooting for,” she said.

Dr. Harper is a past president of the American Acne & Rosacea Society. She disclosed that she serves as an advisor or consultant for Almirall, BioPharmX, Cassiopeia, Cutanea, Cutera, Dermira, EPI, Galderma, LaRoche-Posay, Ortho, Vyne, Sol Gel, and Sun. She also serves as a speaker or member of a speaker’s bureau for Almirall, EPI, Galderma, Ortho, and Vyne.

Medscape Live and this news organization are owned by the same parent company.

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