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Treatment Difference Between Dermatologists and Pediatricians


A study examined the difference in prescribing patterns between pediatricians and dermatologists when it came to acne treatments.

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, investigated whether differences existed in how pediatricians and dermatologists prescribed acne treatments to patients.1

The study was a population-based, cross-sectional analysis using data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2002 to 2016 for pediatric patients ages 18 or younger. 

There were 45.8 million outpatient acne visits for pediatric patients. With the data broken down, 54% of visits were conducted by dermatologists, 28% by pediatricians, and 18% by other providers. Compared to pediatricians, dermatologists treated older patients with a mean of 15.4 years versus 13.1 years old. 

Dermatologists also saw a higher proportion of White patients (92.8% vs 79.7%), non-Hispanic patients (86.8% vs 76.9%), and patients with private insurance (83.1% vs 69.5%) compared to pediatricians.

The most frequently prescribed medication classes by both dermatologist and pediatricians included topical retinoids at 41% and topical combination therapies at 20.1%. 

Compared to patients seen by dermatologists, patients seen by pediatricians were 71% less likely to receive topical retinoids, 48% less likely to receive topical antibiotics, and 53% less likely to receive oral antibiotics.1

Pediatricians prescribed topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, and oral antibiotics less frequently compared to dermatologists. According to the authors of the study, it is important to understand these differences in prescribing patterns for acne care and to identify potential educational gaps.


1. Jones M, Pourali S, Kohn AH, et al. 240 Differences in Acne Therapy Prescribing Patterns Between Pediatricians and Dermatologists. Accessed: May 10, 2021. J Invest Dermatol. 2021;141(5):S43. doi:10.1016/j.jid.2021.02.262

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