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Finding Your True Self

By: Anne Martin
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 8

A 2005 Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology study found that “irrespective of … severity … acne patients are at increased risk for anxiety and depression compared to the normal (sic) population; acne negatively affects quality of life; the greater the impairment of quality of life … the greater the level of anxiety and depression, and increased risk for anxiety disorder.”4

Teens with severe acne grow up differently. At a time of life when fitting into peer groups is especially important and when burgeoning hormones prompt thoughts of experimentation, a study focusing on gender, sexuality and romantic relationships posits this disturbing theory.

According to an article in Medical Hypotheses, “Acne’s conspicuous localization on the face and its ability to elicit reflexive disgust and avoidance in observers suggest a possible role in sexual selections and functions to ward off potential mates.”5 This means that those with severe acne often live marginalized lives. “Reflexive disgust” implies that they are unclean; and with the word “avoidance,” it is as though, like the lepers of old, they should ring a bell to warn of their approach.

Acne sufferers find themselves enmeshed in a web of misconceptions about the disease, in addition to undergoing difficult, time-consuming treatment options. In Patient Ed Counsel studies measuring patients’ and physicians’ comprehension of acne’s causes and its natural course, an average of only 13% were aware of its origins, and just 6% understood its progression.6 An Experimental Dermatology study revealed that 66% of patients believed that their acne would improve immediately after the first treatment, and 49% thought that the total treatment time took less than six months. Belief that acne is curable ranged from 49–96% in two different studies.7 When taking into account these statistics, it’s not surprising that a Canadian study found a need for “accessible, accurate … education on natural history of acne, pathogenesis … effectiveness and …duration of treatment.”7

Adults who continue to live with visible acne suffer psychosocially from its effects. In a 2005 study in the British Journal of Health Psychology, revealingly titled “Nobody likes damaged goods,” five main issues were determined from the sample of adults studied.8