Acne and self-esteem

Acne and self-esteem

We do hear frequently that “beauty is more than skin-deep”. While this is undoubtedly true, this does not prevent many people with acne from feeling that they are far from beautiful. We live in a society where a lot of emphasis is placed on having a healthy attractive appearance. Over recent years with the expansion of social media, “selfies” and zoom meetings, facial appearance has been more under the spotlight than ever before. It is not an easy time to have acne.
Perhaps surprisingly, it is only over recent decades that attention has turned to some of the psychological and social consequences of having a visible skin condition such as acne. These consequences may be especially problematic among adolescents, the period when acne often makes its first appearance, and this being a time of major emotional and social development. As might have been predicted, the self-esteem of girls with acne appears to take a bigger hit than among boys with acne.
One study  found that females were more affected than males in terms of general and social self-consciousness, and felt more negatively about themselves. In severe cases, problems with self esteem can lead to depression, social phobia and suicidal urges. While even mild acne can have a significant impact, more severe effects on lowering self-esteem are associated with more severe forms of acne. Rumsey concluded that the more a person has taken on board from social media and advertisers about how they “should” look, then the greater they will perceive the gap to be between these ideals and themselves, and the more upset they will be about their appearance.
But sadly, the negative psychological effects are not all triggered by sufferers scrutinising themselves; one study reported that the ill effects from feeling taunted, stigmatised and judged by people’s peer groups. This relates to reports that acne causes problems in forming and maintaining friendships, and even in finding a marriage partner.
So what can be done with regard to this link between acne and low self-esteem?
  • Other blogs have covered the role of stress in worsening acne, and stress often goes hand in hand with the self-esteem. So, steps to reduce stress (using techniques such as relaxation, yoga or mindfulness) should have a good effect also on self-esteem.
  • Try not to hide away. Self-doubts can be magnified if you reduce your social activities- causing you to lose contact with friends and becoming more lonely, further lowering self-esteem. So, try to stay “out there”, involved with peers, friends and family.
  • Remember you are not alone. More than half of adolescents will experience acne and it will be relatively severe in about 20% of people. Try to remind yourself that acne is basically “normal”.
  • Question any negative beliefs and assumptions, and look at other options. People may not be looking at you negatively at all, they may have problems of their own. If someone seems judgemental because you have spots, do you want that sort of person as a friend?
  • Remember that beauty is more than skin deep. You may like to focus on one or more of these quotes:
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” – Coco Chanel
“Confidence breeds beauty” – Estee Lauder
“Happy girls are the prettiest”   – Audrey Hepburn
  • Very importantly get good treatment! . The majority of people with acne, even when it may have devastated their self esteem, do not seek professional help
Not only will good treatment help with your physical appearance, but taking this active step in itself will bolster morale and self-esteem.
Excellent holistic management is available at places such as Temple Clinic in Aberdeen, and this may well include treatment using the LUSTRE® ClearSkin Light therapy devices.
Dr Sam Robson, Temple Clinic Aberdeen
Dr Robson is the Medical Director of Temple Clinic in Aberdeen. She and Temple Clinic have won many awards over the years, most recently the 2020 Society Award for Fitness, Health and Wellbeing Award. Dr Robson is the main creator and CEO of Temple Vie Weight Loss and Lifestyle change programme. Temple Vie exemplifies her commitment to evidence-based medicine and she brings this same approach to managing skin conditions. She is actively involved in the research and development of new technology/ concepts to provide safe and effective treatments to her patients.

Over the course of her 28 years of practice, at first as a General Practitioner (GP), Dr Robson has become progressively aware of the need to integrate the physical, psychological and social aspects of patient care. This view has been reinforced by her qualifying in 2020 as a Lifestyle Medicine Physician, and lifestyle factors influence her view of many medical conditions. When considering problem skin, for example, the interactive effects of diet, exercise, stress and social factors are at the forefront of her holistic approach.

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