How Reddit Is Creating a Generation of At-Home Dermatologists

    If you know Reddit only in a peripheral sense—it’s the sixth most-trafficked website in the country so, yeah—you might think it’s just a message board on which celebrities occasionally do a thing called an AMA and users post a seemingly endless supply of memes and “aww”-inducing animal pics. Maybe you’ve heard about the alt-right Redditor who made the Pizzagate conspiracy theory go viral during the 2016 election or the thousands of users who banded together to successfully name a humpback whale Mister Splashy Pants back in 2007.

    Dark, dirty, delightful—it’s all there, via the site’s clunky, Reddit lol often confusing interface. But Reddit is, of course, not just another weird corner of the web: Top subreddits (i.e., user-created forums dedicated to specific topics) have serious influence on our culture. One shining example of a place where people can access years of digestible, science-backed information not easily found anywhere else and receive an outpouring of support when they’ve hit rock bottom? SkincareAddiction (ScA, for the savvy), a community of one million users that’s revolutionizing the way a generation of people understand their own skin.

    Recent posts in SkincareAddiction come from a woman with full-face cystic acne sharing transformational before-and-after photos after just two months of using retinoids, a transgender man asking for help with his hormonal acne, and a Redditor whose emotional battle with their skin has left them feeling disconnected from their body.

    But for every heartfelt or heartbreaking post (search “suicide” within the group if you need more evidence confirming the link between acne and depression), there’s another post presenting matter-of-fact research on, say, oral isotretinoin and inflammatory lesions (ahem, Accutane and zits) or the supposed scam of ceramide-based products, with a comment section full of enthusiasts, medical students, cosmetic chemists, and, yes, even the occasional dermatologist offering sound advice and having the kind of back-and-forth you might hear at a medical conference.

    Whatever the issue is that brings you to SkincareAddiction, you’re greeted by not only other newbies in your shoes but also a collective of self-taught experts armed with the latest clinical studies and data and, most important, the time and patience to help you, free of charge. For many, this subreddit isn’t just a discussion board, it’s a way of life—and frequently, an actual lifesaver.

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