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
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