While acne doesn’t usually cause major physical harm to those afflicted with it, the condition can have serious effects when it comes to the psychological well-being of those same people. More and more studies confirm that acne can have a psychological effect on adolescents in many ways, especially as it concerns body-image issues and the fostering of social relationships. An estimated 85% of people become afflicted with acne as adolescents or young adults. Adolescence is an especially vulnerable period for the manifestation of acne, as hormonal activity in the body increases concentrations of androgen hormones, including testosterone and dihyrotestosterone. This hormonal activity does more than facilitate the growth of acne. It also plays an important part in the development of the adolescent brain, usually resulting in a period of emotional sensitivity and what are commonly referred to as “growing pains.”
Role of Acne and the Development of Self-Esteem
Acne can represent a physical change to the appearance of the face and other body parts for adolescents. Pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and other blemishes can appear on the face and, in severe cases, all over the body. As a part of puberty, acne accompanies other physical changes in adolescents. These changes can leave an adolescent in an odd place emotionally, especially as they begin to build relationships with their peer group who are probably experiencing puberty as well. Depending on the person, the development of acne can cause an embarrassment so severe that they become reclusive, often avoiding most eye contact, adopt heavy make-up application practices, or even retreat from social activities entirely. These retreats might signify a bruised or damaged self-esteem. Acne blemishes, while overwhelmingly common, do not feel that way for a teen. The condition can be made worse if a person is subject to ridicule over the condition. One study found that acne vulgaris alters the quality of life for those afflicted with it, depending on the facial distribution, severity, and social conditions surrounding the acne.
Psychological Effects of Acne
Acne can lead to a range of psychological conditions, depending on its severity and other factors about the afflicted person. Some of the psychological symptoms include:
- Self-Esteem issues
- Social phobias or disorders
The societal components of any of these symptoms cannot be overstated nor should they be overlooked. While the medical community on the whole dismisses the acne as a type of “rite of passage” into adulthood or as an almost non-health issue, the condition has serious implications for the people dealing with it. The effects of these symptoms can be lifelong: some studies show that those afflicted with severe acne and its psychological symptoms are less inclined to go to school, less likely to be successful when applying for jobs, and even more likely to skip work days at a time. Consulting medical professionals for a severe case of acne might be in your best interest, either for yourself or a loved one. One should not hesitate to contact a mental health professional when dealing with a serious case of acne, especially if the afflicted exhibits any of the warning signs associated with acne’s potential psychological effects.