Dermatologists post less than 4% of acne content on Instagram

When patients log on to social media, what types of acne content do they see? Unfortunately, probably not the messages of health professionals, according to a recent study.1 Influencers generate the majority of acne-related Instagram content and dermatologists are responsible for less than 4% of top posts under the #acne hashtag according to a recent study. Retailers accounted for 22.1% of the 439 messages analyzed in the study. Non-dermatologist vendors ranked third, with fewer posts than influencers and retailers, but more than dermatologists with 15.26% of top posts.

As the breakdown of content creators might suggest, the most common themes for posts were, in descending order, posts promoting a commercial product, acne awareness and self-acceptance content. , advertisements for the services of a medical or beauty industry supplier, home remedies, behavioral interventions and the causes of acne, according to the authors.

Of the posts, “254 posts recommended at least one specific intervention and 124 distinct ingredients were offered as potential acne treatments,” study authors Ward and Rojek wrote. They also noted that most recommendations focused on home treatments, and publications rarely recommended doctor-guided treatment.

Only 11% of posts suggested treatments with grade A evidence according to American Academy of Dermatology guidelines.2 The authors also noted that dermatologists had the lowest engagement on their posts, even though they had similar sized followings.

While the study sheds light on how social media can impact the information patients are exposed to, the authors note some limitations to its design. “This study is limited because it only represents a snapshot in time. It is further limited by its assumption that the number of likes and followers is an indicator of influence. Further research is needed to determine if patients rate content differently depending on its source and if/how exposure to this content leads to changes in behavior or attitudes. Nonetheless, there is a vast amount of acne-related content readily available to patients on this platform which has over 100 million users in the United States. This study showed that the content is heterogeneous in terms of message and quality, and that dermatologists are responsible for a tiny part of it.

Disclosures:

The authors have no relevant financial information.

References:

  • Ward S, Rojek N. Acne information on Instagram: content quality and the role of dermatologists on social media. J Drugs Dermatol. 2022;21(3):333-335. doi:10.36849/JDD.6411
  • Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, et al. Care guidelines for the management of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74(5):945-73.e33. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.037

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