Happy Holidays, and Merry Christmas Eve to all of you who celebrate! One of the greatest gifts that I gave to myself this year was clear skin.
I have struggled with hormonal, cystic acne for the better part of the past two years and earlier this year I knew that what I had been doing wasn’t working. After trying many over the counter products, changing my skincare routine several times, as well as trying several medications through my primary care physician with no improvement, I decided that it really was time to get a dermatologist’s opinion. However, I am completing my medical school rotations in a very rural area where we have limited access to a dermatologist– the wait to get in as a new patient was eight months!
So, I started researching e-medicine services, websites or apps where you could securely consult a physician either by video or message and photos without needing to see them in person. Ultimately, I decided to try YoDerm after reading a few positive reviews.
Keep reading to hear about my personal acne story, see my before/after, and my own review of YoDerm. This post is not sponsored by YoDerm, I paid for all services myself.
My Acne Story
I am one of the lucky few that made it through my teenage years relatively unscathed by acne. Like most people, I would get a whitehead (or closed comedo, in medical terms) every once in a while but never had major problems.
It was not until my twenties when I decided to go off of birth control pills and try an IUD that I had a major flare up. For the first time, I experienced a true cystic breakout. It started off with just one or two on the far sides of my cheeks. My typical topical spot treatment– trusty 2% salicylic acid– did absolutely nothing for them and they took several weeks to resolve and left a reddish purple spot in their wake. With each month, new cysts would come, often in addition to the ones that were healing, and it began to feel like a never-ending cycle.
If you have had cystic acne before, then you know how much they hurt! All I could really do was ice them to reduce the puffiness and wait. After a year of this cycle, I had had enough and decided to go back to the birth control pills– hoping that my skin would return back to it’s normal self. Unfortunately, it did not and the cysts continued on my cheeks and jawline.
Throughout this process, I worked with my primary care physician to try to combat the acne with topical treatments. We used Adapalene Gel (a retinoid) with a topical antibiotic, special cleansers, tretinoin, as well as several others. Nothing seemed to help, and the retinoids just seemed to make it all worse. It is common for skin to have an adjustment period when using them, but after three months of consistent use, my skin was still inflamed with no improvement so I knew it was time to turn to something else.
My YoDerm Experience
I chose YoDerm after googling “online dermatologist acne” and reading a few reviews. Most people had positive things to say, and most e-dermatology services have fairly standardized pricing, so I figured that I would give it a go.
When I went to sign up for the website, I filled out a form with standard contact information to make an account. They also directed you to fill out a health questionnaire. I really appreciated the types of questions on the form– not only did they ask you about your current acne, medications, and medical history, but they also asked you what medications you had tried in the past (and whether or not you saw any improvement), as well as what (if any) medications you were specifically interested in trying. Because I have a medical background and also had tried several treatments already, I felt that this really helped make my first appointment more productive and prevented me from starting from square one all over again.
They also ask you to take well-lit photos of the affected areas. So for me, my face. The user interface is quite simple, and easy to navigate. I haven’t had any issues uploading photos or getting it to work. Here is what my homepage looks like:
Pricing for a single consultation is $59, or $188 for unlimited annual consultations (this option pops up after you sign up for a single consultation as for “$129” more). I ended up choosing the annual plan because I wanted to be able to adjust the treatment regimen as many times as necessary to get it right– as well as have all of the follow ups needed to maintain my prescriptions without worrying about it. They also offer a 30 day cancellation policy (where you get all of your money back) if you aren’t pleased with the service, so I felt confident. So far, I have had four consultations, so have already made the cost worthwhile (with seven months left on my account).
My assigned dermatologist responded with a treatment plan and had prescriptions sent to the pharmacy one day after registering– and I signed up on a weekend! For follow up consultations, turnaround time has ranged from 1-5 days which I have found to be reasonable. You are also able to send messages to the support staff regarding medication questions, or if you need a prior authorization for insurance, or if the medications are too expensive and those messages don’t count as “consultations” and are free to users.
I have had pretty phenomenal results working with my dermatologist–my cystic/inflammatory acne has completely cleared up! I still get that occasional zit…but its the normal kind, not the “makes your face hurt for weeks on end and takes over your life” kind. Now my goal is to continue maintaining my progress and work on tackling the hyperpigmentation left from the acne!
At first, we tried a combination of oral doxycycline and topical Aczone gel which gave me very mild improvement (and a lot of GI upset). Then, we moved to oral spironolactone (and nixed the antibiotic) to try to target the hormonal component and that was what really made a difference for me. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about my personal acne regimen because everyone’s needs are different. However, addressing the root cause definitely helped.
Here are my progress photos. Be kind– these before photos were taken before I ever planned on making a blog post so they are pretty rough!
Overall, I highly recommend YoDerm to anyone who is struggling with acne and can’t get in to see a dermatologist in person. As a medical student, I have seen the benefits of physical in-office appointments– I am in the camp that it is better to be able to see things in person, touch them, and have a conversation. However, real life doesn’t always allow for that and unfortunately dermatologists can be very difficult to get in with. YoDerm works very well if you have an idea of what kind of treatment you are looking for. They can also treat rosacea, hair loss, prescribe Latisse, and address signs of aging.
YoDerm is not for someone who might need Accutane or birth control pills– they don’t prescribe those. It also might not be best if you have an extensive medical history or several medical concerns, since the medical questionnaire is very acne-focused. It also is not for other dermatological issues, like mole or skin cancer checks– those need to be done in person.
I plan to continue to use YoDerm as it has been an excellent value and has suited my lifestyle as a medical student very well– I can place a consult at any time from anywhere. I am even considering expanding my current subscription to try some pre-wedding Latisse…but we’ll see about that!
If you are interested in trying YoDerm and are also interested in supporting this blog, I have a referral link that gives you $10 off your consultation (and also gives me a $10 amazon gift card).
Have you tried or ever considered trying YoDerm or any other online dermatology services?
I hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend!