The Ugly Truth About Acne

“There is no single disease which causes more psychic trauma and more maladjustment between parents and children, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority and greater sums of psychic assessment than does acne vulgaris.” So said inciteful acne researcher Mario Sulzberger as far back as 1948.

Have you ever cancelled a date because of acne (and if you went anyway, made sure you sat with your “good side” facing him!!)? Have you ever styled your hair specifically to conceal a monster outbreak? And do you anxiously approach the bathroom mirror each morning to scrutinize what disaster has popped up overnight?

Well, you and 80% of the population are likely to have experienced something akin to these banal-but-relevant social traumas because acne is that common. But rather more worrying is recent data suggesting that at least 10% of patients with acne suffer from clinical depression concurrently. Which suggests that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

When patients are asked how acne makes them feel, emotive words like shame, embarrassment and frustration come up-patients feel that its somehow their fault that they suffer from this unsightly affliction.

So a few home truths about acne:

1) This is a disease. Spots are not a cutaneous marker for how much pizza/chocolate/chips you have been eating. They are unlikely to improve dramatically with acne-friendly chocolate either (see above) and I suspect that the real stuff tastes nicer. Salad will not make it better. Nor will 8 glasses of Evian, room temperature or otherwise.

2) With persistence, most acne will improve-but you will have to work at it and use your treatment. Daily. Not just on the weekend. For weeks…..

3) Acne of a certain severity (we docs talk about moderate to severe disease) will need medical intervention and you should consult a physician. Too often, disease is left unchecked for months, even years leading to the dreaded scars of acne. Fixing these are a bit of a nightmare-better to prevent so get thee to a doctor if you have lumpy painful spots called nodules or cysts.

4) Parents of children with acne have frequently suffered themselves (we recognize a strong genetic component exists now) and often believe that its something that is inevitable in adolescence-this is not the case. I’m not blaming the parents-but I think their acceptance is often based on experience and that a more modern pro-active approach can solve/prevent all kinds of pubertal angst.

Acne-a medical condition, not a lifestyle choice. Get it sorted, be happier.

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