Can Acne Lower Self Esteem?
by Mona Gohara, M.D.
The Emotional Scars of Acne
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 50 million Americans have had acne. Even though some may have such severe acne that it may result in permanent scarring, only 11% of those affected seek treatment. That means that the majority of people with pimples just handle it on their own—which can be risky both to their skin, and to their emotional well-being.
Although acne does not pose a threat to physical health, it can have a significant impact on our emotional state if it is left untreated. Because facial skin is so readily seen, any blemish or imperfection can lead to feelings of vulnerability and insecurity.
Acne’s emotional impact isn’t just observation or speculation; it is based on actual science. Many studies show that those affected by acne have significantly more depressive symptoms and feelings of uselessness when compared to those who do not. They also have lower feelings of self worth, pride, and body satisfaction. However, research also shows that successful treatment of acne results in increased self-esteem, quality of life, and an overall better performance at work or school. The treatment plan during this study was a simple one: only topical medications were used, showing that a little care and attention goes a long way.
For years dermatologists have recognized the relationship between acne treatment and the improvement in mental health. That’s why we encourage these basic skin habits that help maintain a clear complexion and enhance emotional well-being.
1. To eliminate oil, pollutants, bacteria, and dirt, cleanse morning and evening with lukewarm water and a mild, non-soap, pH-neutral cleanser to protect the hydrating ceramides and free fatty acids that create our skin barrier.
2. Gently exfoliate once or twice a week to clear out clogged pores.
3. If you do break out, choose a mild, over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide product to help control blemishes before they get bigger and more inflamed.
4. Be sure to hydrate with a moisturizer and protect against acne-induced skin discoloration by using a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher daily.
It is important to encourage both teenagers and adults to seek treatment if affected by acne. By following a simple plan, early in the course, often times both physical and mental scarring can be completely avoided.