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Patients Often Do Not Understand Acne Terminology

Patients' definitions of blemishes, cysts, whiteheads often inconsistent with dermatologists'

MONDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patients often do not understand commonly used dermatologic terms for acne lesions, according to study findings published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Education level was the only demographic factor associated with this lack of understanding.

Michelle Lucero, M.D., of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues asked 62 subjects to describe various acne lesion terms and images. Sixty percent of subjects were female, 53 percent were 49 years or younger and 79 percent had completed college or postgraduate education. Answers were rated as non-specific, consistent or inconsistent compared with dermatologists' descriptions.

Most responses were inconsistent or non-specific for five of the nine terms, including blemishes, cyst, pus, bump filled with pus and whitehead. Respondents often described a whitehead as a pustule, cyst as a tumor/growth, and bump filled with pus as a whitehead. For pustules and comedones, most responses were inconsistent or non-specific. Except for education, demographic factors were not associated with response consistency.

"Given that studies in non-dermatologic conditions have indicated better patient satisfaction, quality of life, and compliance with treatment when patients understand their disease, further research is necessary to determine whether acne patients will experience better outcomes when patient-physician communication is improved," the authors conclude.

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