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The Social Impact of Acne – It's Not Just Skin Deep

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Emotional Impact of Acne, Treating Acne, Acne Scar

The Social Impact of Acne – It's Not Just Skin Deep

December 04, 2008

By: Laurie Edwards for Scars1

For many of the millions of Americans who suffer from acne, their symptoms are mild and easily managed. Since acne is so common and it is not a life-threatening condition, it is easy to overlook the emotional and social impact of acne and acne scarring. For some patients, especially those with more severe forms of acne, these psychosocial issues can be more disruptive than the physical symptoms themselves.

Take Action

Recognizing Emotional Stress from Acne:

  • You know the emotional impact of acne is real – make sure you find a physician who understands your concerns, too.
  • Manage the physical to manage the emotional – don’t pick at your acne and if you want to try to cover it up, use makeup that is labeled “non comedogenic” and won’t clog pores.
  • Remember that you do have some control – you don’t need to live with acne or scars and with your physician, you can figure out the level and type of intervention that best addresses your physical and emotional needs.
  • If your emotional symptoms of depression, loneliness or anxiety persist, be sure to consult with your physician
    The Individual Experience of Acne
    If you are struggling with acne or acne scars, it is important to realize that just like with acne treatment, individual coping and response to acne will vary. Some people are less concerned with the outward appearance of acne lesions or consider their acne scars to be “badges of honor,” but that doesn’t mean your worries or frustrations about your acne are invalid. From not wanting to look in the mirror to opting out of plans out of embarrassment to holding back at work for fear of drawing unwanted attention, persistent acne and acne scarring can touch almost every aspect of life.
    In fact, research suggests that people with acne commonly suffer from social withdrawal, lower self-esteem, weakened confidence, frustration, anger and even depression. This cycle can be vicious: As you become more self-conscious or embarrassed, you may be more likely to withdraw from social engagements. This can lead to increased social isolation, which can then lead to further frustration or depression.
    Add to this the fact that while stress doesn’t cause acne it can exacerbate it and is easy to see how this cycle continues. 
    Other factors can complicate this physical and emotional process. For example, if people around you still have misconceptions about acne like that it is the result of having dirty skin or poor hygiene it can make you feel even more vulnerable and stigmatized.
    Prevention and Patience
    If your acne or acne scars are a source of emotional discomfort, the good news is that there are concrete things you can do to help get yourself out of this cycle. Of course, the first step towards alleviating the emotional problems acne can cause is to address the physical symptoms as soon as possible.
    Remember that untreated acne is more prone to leave scars, so if your acne does not respond to more mild over-the-counter topical creams and cleansers, see a dermatologist. If you do have scars that interfere with your life, don’t feel you simply have to live with them forever. From surgical removal to procedures that help smooth out scars, there are a variety of treatments available. Your physician will help determine the most appropriate method for your physical condition and your quality of life. 
    If you’ve suffered from persistent acne or have noticeable scars, odds are when you do seek treatment you want to see results right away. However, it is important to realize that treatments can take several weeks to start working. Don’t let yourself get even more upset if you don’t see immediate results – the added frustration of unrealistic expectations certainly won’t help your psyche.
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