We now know that acne goes beyond skin deep. We know that from experience either ours or someone else’s close to us. We also know that from ongoing scientific findings. Luckily, healthcare professionals and researchers altogether are not only shining a light on the true burden of what it means to live with a skin condition, but also boasting the many benefits of accessing support for the social and psychological effects as well as treatment from a specialized acne clinic.
According to a new survey from the British Skin Foundation, about nine out of 10 dermatologists agree that more needs to be done to alleviate the psychological effects of skin conditions such as acne and acknowledge that patients often times feel they are not properly listened to or understood by their healthcare specialists. All of this within the context of numerous other studies associating acne with serious mental health conditions from social anxiety, depression to suicide.
Those with acne are over 60 per cent more likely to report depression symptoms in comparison with those with clear skin as quick as one year after being diagnosed. Overall, almost half (43.7 per cent) of all patients – pediatric and adults with acne appear more likely to report mental-health conditions than those without the condition.
Answering the why here is multifaceted. To some extent the increasingly appearance focused culture nurtured by the rise of social media plays a role. All of us are bombarded on a daily basis with seemingly flawless selfies and equally, exposed to the almost instant judgment of others. In addition to this, stigma still lingers when it comes to acne and other skin conditions.
It’s one thing to be a teenager dealing with spots and pimples, it’s another to be let’s say a middle age woman with an acne outbreak. Even worse, psychological studies indicate that many of women acne suffers blame themselves and their habits for the condition.
A fact often misunderstood is that acne is not always easy to keep under control and treat. Eruptions can be stress or diet related, but they can also be the result of an infection or inflammatory response. In the case of living with multiple condition, acne can also be caused by the side effects of various drugs while genetics is thought to be the primary cause in about 80 per cent of cases.
The failure of media and popular culture to have a proper representation of acne and its impact on people’s lives has driven many to believe that having acne is ‘not normal’. But when we think that 85 per cent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience some form of acne, it is still difficult to fully grasp how overlooked the situation actually is.
Acne clinics and treatment centers are playing an increasingly important role in not only providing relief, but also helping dissolve some of the misconceptions and negativity around acne and other skin conditions. Specialists recommend being consistent with the acne treatment and overall skin care routine however that may look like.
Accessing specialized treatment and advice of the highest standards is incredibly important in successfully managing outbreaks and even acne scars.
On the mental health side of things, there is an emerging field known as psycho-dermatology which aims to connect the body and the mind for optimal results. Because skin conditions are intricately connected to emotions, flare ups can often be rooted in the symptoms that they actually generate such as anxiety, stress or depression. Having acne can completely takeover someone’s life particularly in severe cases.
Breaking this vicious cycle requires an integrated approach which puts the patient at the very core of everything. We have known for a while that emotions lead to physical reactions and that in fact, more than one-third of those suffering from skin conditions need a psychiatric consultation in conjunction with a physical one.
The bottom line is simple: our minds connect to our bodies in so many ways that it’s almost obvious treatment should tend to both. Helping people live more comfortably in their skin is perhaps a stepping stone in the management of conditions such as acne. Everyone needs to get better at understanding and recognizing mental health issues associated with this skin condition.