Acne is More Than a Nuisance For Some Teens

March 14, 2011

Acne is More Than a Nuisance For Some Teens

Study Shows Acne Can Cause Depression, Lead to Suicidal Thoughts

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - March 14, 2011 – America’s prom season is on the horizon and with it comes distress for thousands of teens who will be distraught to see a pimple raise its ugly head on their nose or chin.

They’ll get over it – eventually. But for many teens, acne is a bigger problem than a facial blemish. New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center finds that depression and other psychological disorders may be more prevalent in adolescent acne patients.

Steve Feldman, M.D., a professor of Dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist, conducted a systematic review of published literature which found that while most teenagers consider acne to be a cosmetic problem, many others report that acne has a significant impact on their self-esteem and quality of life, often leading to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. The study appears on Dermatology Online Journal.

“With this study, we found that acne is more than skin deep for those aged 13 to 18,” Feldman said. “Depending on how the patient feels about it, acne can have a potentially large and negative impact on their lives or it can have a small affect.”

As a result, Feldman said the presence of these psychological disorders “should be considered in the treatment of acne patients when appropriate.”

Acne affects 85 percent of teenagers, and some adults. It doesn’t have to be viewed as a normal rite of passage that goes along with puberty, Feldman said. A strong physician-patient relationship and taking a thorough medical history may help to identify patients at risk for these adverse psychological effects, he added. And for teens who are successfully treated, symptoms of depression can be alleviated and their quality of life improved.

“Acne affects how we perceive ourselves. It affects how others perceive us. And it affects how we perceive how other people perceive us,” Feldman said.

Feldman said the research also shows that teenagers and their parents may not always be adequately educated about the causes and treatment of acne which may further delay or affect successful treatment. And poor adherence to therapy is also a barrier to successful acne treatment.

“It’s a medical condition and there are some really good treatments.” Feldman said. “Teens afflicted with acne shouldn’t have to suffer. They should talk to their physician.”

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