Patients with rosacea may be susceptible to reliance on peer-generated information that appears on Web-based platforms and is not monitored, at times encouraging those with the disorder to try potentially harmful alternative remedies, according to the results of an analysis of online material that was published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment.

The investigators sought to discover the extent of online material on rosacea and to determine the potential for harm that is influenced by belief in various internet sources. The material analyzed included search engines, apps, support groups/forums, Facebook groups, and YouTube.

The core focus of the analysis was on forums and Facebook postings, as they were found to be the most active. There were 3 broad categories identified: prescribed medications, nonprescribed remedies, and posts aimed at eliciting emotional support, which was the most commonly used among the 3 categories.


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Positive and negative influences were recognized among the 3 categories. Negative influences were divided into 4 domains: physical harm, financial harm, emotional harm, and detrimental influences on patient-physician relationships.

Among some of the remedies for patients with rosacea that were suggested on the internet include the “tanning culture” known as Melanotan-I and Melanotan-II, apple cider vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. Another key consideration is the possible financial exploitation of patients with rosacea by businesses that advertise expensive, nonprescription, and often unapproved products with false claims, such as the use of Melanotan-II injections.

The investigators concluded that patients with rosacea may be susceptible to relying on peer-generated information. Because of the lack of monitoring and the potential for misplaced trust among patients affected with rosacea, the use of forums may be fraught with detrimental outcomes.

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Lack of monitoring can lead to the spread of inaccurate, false information, which can result in harm. To facilitate patient safety, healthcare professionals need to be aware of the online dialogue and self-treatment remedies that are trending, and patients must be advised to consult with their physicians before using any new skin care methods.

Reference

Riddoch LH. It takes one to know one: exploring patient dialogue on rosacea web-based platforms and their potential for significant harm [published online May 10, 2018]. J Dermatolog Treat. doi: 10.1080/09546634.2018.1468067