It’s common knowledge that acne, even in mild cases, can cause permanent facial scaring which is unfortunate. But did you know that acne can exact and even heavier emotional toll? Psychological scarring and social disabling among acne sufferers, both teenagers and adults, actually can have far more serious long term consequences than the physical fallout.
By some estimates, around 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 25 develop acne. The psychological and social impacts during this emotionally sensitive time of life are huge. Adolescents are in the throes of developing their personalities just when acne manifests itself. During this time, peer acceptance is critical, and peer status becomes inextricably woven with physical appearance and attractiveness, often leading to severe emotional disturbance when acne erupts.
Studies indicate that psychological consequences from acne primarily take the form of embarrassment, impaired self-image, low self-esteem, self-consciousness, frustration, and anger. There is a subset, as also shown in studies, where the sufferer believes that their personality has been adversely and permanently affected. Depression, to some degree, haunts younger people with acne to a greater extent than in the normal population. However, there is no clear indication that their depression in relation to acne is generally severe enough to require treatment. Most teens studied were far more likely to describe their mental state in terms of embarrassment, self consciousness, impaired self esteem and the like. Adults with acne, however, are more prone to suffer anxiety and depression needing treatment.
Acne flare-ups trigger these negative feelings as soon as they appear, and are aggravated in the teenage setting by taunting, stigmatizing, and apprehensions of being scrutinized and judged. Simply walking past a mirror can bring on feelings of self loathing. Some people report that their emotional reactions are at their worst when looking in the mirror.
Feeding acne’s emotional fallout are media generated ideal images of unblemished skin. People with acne become acutely aware that they have failed to live up to the ideal of perfect, flawless skin projected in television, film and advertising. Magazines targeting the younger female demographic certainly never portray anyone with pimples, nor, for that matter, will you encounter such images in publications for more mature audiences. One’s *** attractiveness, so seemingly vital in the teenage years, is then found to be abysmal by comparison.
Of course, there’s a something of a paradox at work here. One of the acne myths is that stress in one’s life causes acne. Studies have proven that this is untrue, and, in fact, it’s the other way around. Acne can cause stress which, in turn, suggests that it was stress that caused the acne in the first place.
So, what are the remedies? First and foremost, of course, is treatment to relieve the symptoms of acne outbreaks as soon as they appear. Given the nature of the disease, there are numerous approaches to treatment (accompanied by information overload). A proactive stance toward treatment is the most effective way to ameliorate the damaging feelings. Beyond that, support and sensitivity on the part of one’s family and close friends goes a long way toward propping up both teenagers and adults while treatment is in progress.
Robert G. Knechtel operates several websites, including Acnezine Acne Treatment - All-Natural Remedy– AcneChronicle.Com .