Acne is an irritating condition that affects everyone. While some people’s experience of acne is minor, others must deal with severe, life-altering breakouts. If you’re finding that acne is more than a skin condition for you and that it’s affecting your psychology, you aren’t alone.
Acne is a skin condition that affects the sebaceous glands. These glands exist in our skin and are responsible for producing oil. While our skin does benefit from oil production, the sebaceous glands can go overboard for a number of reasons. When this happens, the gland gets blocked and backed up. This block forms into a whitehead or a blackhead that can become infected or inflamed, depending on its severity. Severe acne is characterized by inflammation, redness, and an abundance of pimples or acne cysts. The most common cause for acne is a rise in hormone levels, but exposure to comedogenic substances like certain makeup or even your diet can make acne worse.
With the knowledge that acne is most often at its height in the teenage years, it’s little wonder that it can cause psychological problems. But that’s not to say that teens are the only people concerned with how they look. While acne might go away as you get older and your hormone levels normalize, the scars left behind by severe acne can still affect your self-worth.
Plus, acne doesn’t always stop with age. Sometimes it might lessen in severity, but people struggle with acne every day and at every age. Even the lightest breakout can ruin your day. And let’s face it: bad days with acne can add up. Studies have tied acne to depression, anxiety, isolation, and low self-esteem. These are all very real, very critical issues that can easily put some people’s lives on hold.
So what can happen to a teenager with acne? In short, social stigma, bullying, and a decreased sense of belonging and self-worth. Many teens with severe acne are bullied more than teens without acne. While physical bullying is increasingly declining, cyber-bullying shows no signs of stopping. Bullied teens deal with a barrage of insults pointed at their appearance, their behavior and everything in between. Depression among bullied teens is incredibly high, and acne can make it worse.
While we hate to admit this, it remains a problem. Treating acne can restore a person’s self-worth, even if any mature adult knows that beauty is not what makes a person valuable.
If you are a teen or a parent to a teen with acne, there are things you can do. Discussing your mental health with your parents or a professional can help you cope with your condition. Your dermatologist is also well-equipped with a variety of tools to reduce the effects of your acne.
Adults with acne are often stigmatized as unclean or lazy, and that is often not the case. As we’ve learned, while acne is sometimes made worse by environmental factors and cleanliness, this is not the primary cause. Many Americans have an unhealthy, high calorie, high fat diet that can contribute to acne. As with teens, an adult with acne may withdraw from social situations because they feel ashamed by their acne. Acne scarring can be extreme as well, so even if your acne clears up with treatment or age, you might still suffer its lingering effects.
There are a number of treatments out there for your acne and you don’t need to let it rule your life. Talk to an experienced doctor at your local Northeast Dermatology Associates office about how you can treat your acne for increased mental health.