© 2017, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Adequate adherence to prescribed treatment regimens can help to break the cycle of treatment failure, disease progression and subsequent treatment escalation. Unfortunately, adherence in the treatment of skin disorders such as acne, atopic dermatitis/eczema and psoriasis is often inadequate. A review of the literature identified a number of studies that tested an intervention to improve adherence in dermatology, including the following: electronic messages and/or reminders; more frequent or ‘extra’ clinic visits; audio-visual and internet-based interventions; and patient support programmes and/or self-management, educational training programmes. While there is no one solution or action for improving adherence, some interventions were more successful than others. We provide practical guidance on how to support adherence based on aspects of the successful interventions identified and on our collective opinion and clinical practice experience. Holding patients accountable, providing a caring and supportive environment, raising awareness of poor adherence and helping patients build a solid medication-taking habit can help to improve adherence so that patients can experience maximal treatment benefits and desired clinical outcomes.