Your quest for clear skin could be as simple as downloading the latest smartphone app.

Spruce, available for download as of Thursday, allows users to receive prescription acne treatments without tedious and often abashing visits to the dermatologist.

Users simply snap a few selfies and fill out a quick questionnaire regarding their skin conditions. Board-certified, in-state dermatologists then review the cases and provide personalized treatment plans. Prescriptions are sent to the users’ pharmacies of choice within 24 hours and are promptly made available for pickup.

The whole process comes in at a mere flat-rate cost of $40, the majority of which goes to the physician.


The new app, the brainchild of entrepreneur Ray Bradford, does not intend to obsolete the role of doctors. Instead, it plans to revolutionize the way in which doctors and patients interact by eliminating vexing red tape.

Rather than having patients wait weeks for lengthy appointments, the process takes mere minutes. As only an estimated 20 percent of acne sufferers ever seek medical help for their skin, the expedited process incentivizes both lax and pinched-for-time patients.

The rewards are not just limited to patients, however. Doctors bypass sifting through complicated medical records and can address patients on their own time.

Following treatment customization, users can even write to “care coordinators” for questions regarding insurance, instructions for medications and inquiries for virtual checkups.

Founder Bradford told Wired Magazine that he has lofty plans beyond pimple treatment. The acne-targeted app is just the first leg in a foreseeable phenomenon of asynchronous doctor’s appointments, whereby minor medical concerns are addressed to and resolved by real doctors via smartphone applications.

“We see technology complementing the doctor, not competing with or replacing the doctor,” he said. “It’s how you let doctors do what they do best, which is using their judgment and caring for patients, as opposed to repetitive, rote things or administrative paperwork.”

Spruce is now available to users in California, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania.


Thomas Freeman is Texas-transplant and aspiring journalist trying (but often failing) to navigate New York City. A current NYU student, Thomas also writes articles and manages media content for 20to30.

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