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Importance of Knowing Dermatology Medications:

A few weeks ago our dermatologists sent us a list of medicines they commonly prescribe to their patients. As medical estheticians, we went through the list, having some difficulty even pronouncing some of the ones we hadn’t heard of before. Our assignment was to classify them, i.e.: antibiotic, retinoid, acne combo etc., and then we were to learn what the main ingredients were and what percent of actives were in them. Not only did this seem overwhelming, but what did it have to do with us?

At Toronto Dermatology Centre we work like a well-oiled machine. The patient often will initially be seen by the dermatologist, and if appropriate, he will then send the patient over to us. For example, if a patient has been seen due to the onset or ongoing condition of acne, they may be prescribed a medication. It may be oral, topical, or both. When the patient is then sent over to us, we check to see what has been prescribed to them before assessing and suggesting the best home care for them, or treatments that may aid in the speed of their skin’s recovery. Without understanding what is in the medication, we could be over treating their skin or using a contradictory ingredient that may cause irritation or drying to the skins’ surface.

So, for acne, rosacea, melasma or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, of course it makes perfect sense that we need to know our medications. That is what sets us apart from medical estheticians that work at Medi spas or for general practitioners. But we were still perplexed on why we needed to know about eczema, psoriasis and fungal infections. Surely we don’t diagnose, prescribe or even carry home care that is specified for those skin conditions.

And then it happened. A patient came to me who was suffering from both eczema and acne on her face. They are almost two polar opposites. I looked at the medicines prescribed for her, and I knew what they were, how they worked and what would go with them! I knew how to help this person so that her skin could heal while being on medication for two very opposite conditions!

While it is true that I may not remember all the ins and outs of every medication on that list, I can now categorize them. In doing so, I have become a better esthetician, taking the guess work out of what works with what medicines. I have worked for doctors, and I have worked at med spas, but there is no doubt in my mind that my ongoing education at Toronto Dermatology Centre will put me and my colleagues leaps ahead of all those who are not blessed enough to work for a dermatologist, the real skin experts.

~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre

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