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Ask the Dermatologist: Can ChatGPT Create a Skin Care Regimen for a Teen with Acne?

I used OpenAI’s ChatGPT to find out how close this tool is to taking my job. (Hint: I’m not worried.)

By Michael McKelvey, MD

Dr. McKelvey and the question "can I use chatGPT to create a skin care regimen for a teen with acne?"

The Prompt: Create a skin care regimen for a teenager with acne

Sure, I can help you create a basic skin care regimen for a teenager with acne. Keep in mind that everyone's skin is different, so this regimen may need to be adjusted based on individual skin type and specific concerns.

Morning Routine:

Cleanse: Start by washing your face with a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser that won't clog pores. Look for ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or tea tree oil that help control acne. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry.

Dr. McKelvey: If you are on a prescription acne treatment, then we do recommend using a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser such as Cetaphil, CeraVe, or Topix gentle cleanser. Ingredients including salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, while common in over-the-counter cleansers and useful for mild acne, would generally not fall under the “gentle” category as they can be drying and make it more difficult to tolerate other, more important, components to therapy. Additionally, tea tree oil has very little scientific data showing it to be effective against acne, and while probably not harmful, is generally not recommended by dermatologists.

Tone: Apply a toner with salicylic acid or witch hazel to help remove any remaining dirt and oil from your pores. This also helps to restore your skin's pH balance.

Dr. McKelvey: Toners, including those with salicylic acid and witch hazel have very high concentrations of alcohol, and can be quite irritating and are generally not recommended in acne treatment regimens.

Moisturize: Use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that won't clog your pores. Choose a product that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin that help to hydrate your skin without making it greasy.

Dr. McKelvey: Spot on here. CeraVe lotion, Elta AM Therapy, and Neutrogena Hydro Boost gel are good options.

Sunscreen: Finish your morning routine by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Dr. McKelvey: Glad sunscreen was included. Our favorite is the Elta MD SPF 46, which doubles as both a moisturizer and sunscreen.

Evening Routine:

Cleanse: Start by removing any makeup with a gentle makeup remover. Then, wash your face with the same non-comedogenic cleanser you used in the morning.

Dr. McKelvey: Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing towelettes are a good option for removing makeup.

Tone: Repeat the same toning step from your morning routine to remove any remaining dirt and oil from your pores.

Dr. McKelvey: Skip this step! Acne is not caused by dirt in your pores.

Treat: Apply a topical acne treatment with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or retinoids, following the instructions on the product carefully. Use spot treatment for isolated acne and other forms for general application.

Dr. McKelvey: Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid-containing products are fine for mild acne and can be added to augment other treatments, but the foundation of most serious acne treatment regimens is the retinoid class of medications. Previously prescription only, you can now get the entry strength retinoid, Adapalene 0.1% gel, over the counter in products like Differin gel and LaRoche-Posay Effaclar.

Moisturize: Apply a lightweight moisturizer to help hydrate your skin and prevent dryness from your acne treatment.

Dr. McKelvey: This step is optional at night for those treating acne, depending on your skin sensitivity.

Additional Tips:

1. Avoid touching your face unnecessarily to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Dr. McKelvey: There is no evidence that touching your face causes acne.

2. Keep your hair clean and away from your face as hair oil can aggravate acne.

Dr. McKelvey: Hair oil is unlikely to cause acne, but waxes and gels used for styling often contain products that can plug pores.

3. Wash your pillowcases regularly to remove any bacteria that may have transferred from your face to your pillow.

Dr. McKelvey: There is no scientific evidence this helps acne. The bacteria that live in our pores are there at all times and can’t be spread

4. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Dr. McKelvey: I can’t argue with this advice, but wish it was the magic skin cure. There is very little science linking diet and acne.

5. Consider consulting with a dermatologist for more specialized acne treatments if the issue persists.

Dr. McKelvey: I know a few good ones :)



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