Acne Can Change the Way You See the World
In their own words, patients tell what it's like living with acne

People often say that having acne is no big deal, but thatís far from true. Several studies have shown that acne can diminish a personís quality of life. Having acne can lead to depression and anxiety. Acne can make people feel ugly. It can destroy a personís self-confidence. People can feel so badly that they stop hanging out with friends. Acne can even cause adults to call in sick rather than face a day at work. The following lists some of the problems that research shows acne can cause:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Social withdrawal

  • Decreased self-esteem

  • Reduced self-confidence

  • Poor body image

  • Embarrassment

  • Anger

  • Preoccupied with thoughts about acne

  • Frustration

  • Higher rate of unemployment

To find out just how acne makes his patients feel, one dermatologist asked his patients. This is what they told him.

In their Own Words

I feel like a vampire. . .
"I don't look in mirrors.... I am like a vampire--I shy away from mirrors. I comb my hair using my silhouette on the wall to show the outline of my head. I have not looked myself in the eyes in years. Itís painful not to be able to do that, and that is a direct result of acne, the acne scarring."

I feel so insecure . . ."I think that if I had more self-esteem about the way I looked, I think I would have been more outgoing. I would have gone to more parties. I probably would have been more outspoken in class and would not have felt so insecure about going up and speaking in front of a group of classmates."

I feel humiliated . . ."It is really humiliating to feel like I have no control over my acne. I hold my head down, and I am ashamed to look at people; I feel so embarrassed. I am 25 years old and to be acting this way is very frustrating."

I hate that the first thing people see is my bad skin . . .
"It's associated with being dirty, and I hate that, because it's not at all like that. I inherited it from my mother, and she's always telling me that she had the exact same thing and that it will go away. I am mad that I inherited it from her. My dad makes me feel bad because he never had bad skin when he was younger, so he doesn't understand.... I hate that the first thing people see when they look at me is bad skin. I really. really hate that."

Not a day goes by that I donít think about it . . .
"I feel like I don't look right no matter how hard I try to dress up and look niceóthere is always that area of pimples there, and it is very unsettling. There really hasn't been a day gone by that I don't think about it, or look at my face.... Should I spend that much energy on it? I could be doing other things...instead of wasting 5 to 10 minutes every day looking at my face in the mirror, or playing with it, picking at my acne."

What this Dermatologist Tells His Patients
Clearing up the acne can relieve the source of these disturbances, but many people don't realize that something can be done.

Many myths about acne, especially regarding diet and hygiene, are still considered true. And many parents and older siblings are stuck in the attitude of past generations that nothing can really be done but wait it out. Thatís just not true.

Making matters worse, there is confusion among people with acne and their families about what works and what doesn't. They are often frustrated by products that promise to clear skin but that don't work for them.

Some non-prescription products may be more effective than others, but dermatologists have treatments that work just about 100% of the time. Most cases of acne can be cleared up with the right treatment.

*Patient testimonials courtesy of John Koo, MD. Dr. Koo is a dermatologist who practices in San Francisco.

1 Koo J. ďThe psychosocial impact of acne: patients' perceptions.Ē Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology May 1995; 32: S26-30.

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Acne can and does significantly affect a person's quality of life. Even mild acne can be distressing. This is why it is so important to treat acne rather than wait for it to go away.





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