The Psychological Effects of Acne

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Like many people, I’ve had my own personal struggles with acne. When I’d look at my bare, acne-covered face in the mirror, I felt nothing but disappointment with myself. Daily, I’d try to come up with ways to avoid leaving the house, but of course, that wasn’t possible. So instead I’d spend 20 minutes strategically covering up with makeup to hide any imperfections. But that only brought on more insecurity. I’d wonder if people could see how much makeup I was wearing to cover the pimples and scars. I’d spend the majority of my day with my head down, avoiding conversations or getting too close to anyone. I’d strategically plan where to sit on transit or in cafes, ensuring the sun wouldn’t shine on my face and reveal what I was forever trying to hide. When anyone tried to initiate conversation, I could hardly make eye contact. I’d start to stutter with nervousness, and struggle to hear the words coming out of their mouths amongst my drowning thoughts of insecurities. Along with the emotional pain came physical pain too, from the acne being so tender and deeply rooted in my skin. Some days it even hurt to smile.

 

These insecurities and experiences are common amongst acne sufferers, and sadly, they’re not recognized.

 

My breaking point arrived when my husband told me how different I seemed when my skin was clearer compared to a bad day of breakouts. I’d go from angry, shy and moody to outgoing, talkative and confident. It’s like I had two different people inside me, tied to the condition of my skin. That was a huge day of self-discovery; it was the day I knew I had to do whatever it took to love myself again. As I started to research possible solutions, it became clear that I could not heal my skin until I made some changes on the inside. Yes, that meant digestion, hormones, liver health, etc., but what I truly needed to heal was my lack of self-love. I could no longer allow my insecurities to control my personality and my ability to shine bright in the world. This had to end. No longer would I let my acne dictate how I felt about myself. Being unhappy with myself was creating a vicious circle of negative side effects, continuously making the acne worse.

 

Through my experience in the esthetic industry and my education in holistic nutrition, I had a good understanding of how to physically make a difference, however I didn’t fully understand the emotional aspect. I knew how the condition made me feel, but did not realize how much it truly debilitated me and so many others just the same.

 

One study done specifically on the psychosocial effect of acne on adult females found that the level of social, psychological, and emotional impairments of acne compare with asthma, epilepsy, diabetes and arthritis. 1 I never suspected acne could cause the same life-altering side effects as what are considered to be very serious illnesses.

 

Similar studies reported that patients with acne are prone to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, low self-assertiveness, embarrassment, social inhibition, affectation, shame, altered body image, psychosomatic symptoms like pain and discomfort, obsessive-compulsiveness and suicidal ideation. 2,3

 

Further to the numerous studies done, I wanted to understand the affects of acne on a more personal level by talking to other women struggling with acne. I conducted interviews with 10 women ranging from the age of 18 to 37 who live a variety of different lifestyles (i.e. married, single, careers, FT moms, university, etc.). Below were some of the very emotional words they shared about their struggles with acne:

“I don’t feel good enough in my own skin.”

“I feel worthless.”

“Makes me hate myself.”

“I feel like I am not living and enjoying certain parts of life to its full potential.”

“I feel unsexy.”

“I feel depressed.”

“I feel disgusting and embarrassed.”

“It makes me anti-social.”

“I’m embarrassed to go out in public.”

“I feel gross, dirty, ugly, old, unattractive, bitter, frustrated, disgusting, sick, insecure, unlovable, and tired.”

“It affects my marriage/sex life/confidence with my husband and I find it hard to be intimate.”

“I feel defeated.”

“I can’t remember the last time I didn’t wear makeup in public, or even around my husband.”

“I feel self-conscious to talk face to face with anyone.”

“It gets in the way of being able to put my best foot forward each day.”

 

When I asked those same women how they’d feel if they found a solution to their acne. Here’s what they told me:

 

“I would accept and love myself.”

“I would feel beautiful.”

“When I’m clear I feel better about myself, have more energy and confidence. I accomplish more in my day and I am more social.”

“One word: Beautiful.”

“Ready to face the world, look them straight in the eye and assert my place in the world today.”

“I’d feel so confident, happy and more open to chatting with people.”

“Liberated.”

 

 There are so many people out there silently struggling with this condition and feeling defeated by it every day. By clearing your skin, you’re doing more than just getting ride of pimples. You’re treating your insecurities, self-doubt, shame, embarrassment, relationship issues, social issues, and so much more.

 

Self-love could possibly be the most important component to clear skin. This can be practiced by setting time aside for things like candle-lit baths, journaling, meditation, hobbies, and positive affirmations. Taking the time to find beauty in everything and everyone you come across is one of the best ways to create positive thinking pathways in the brain. Eventually, these new practices start to form a whole new life; a beautiful, empowering life. It feels like absolute freedom!  

 

By using a holistic approach, you’re starting from the inside to tackle the root cause, and by combining it with today’s modern skin care techniques, we end up with the perfect synergy for beautiful, long-lasting results. You’ll find yourself looking in the mirror and seeing a confident, beautiful, and happy individual who feels like they can conquer the world, even if a new pimple shows up once and a while to remind you of how far you’ve come.

 

References

  1. Mallon E, Newton JN, Klassen A, Stewart-Brown SL, Ryan TJ, Finlay AY. The quality of life in acne: A comparison with general medical conditions using generic questionnaire. Br J Dermatol. 1999;140:672–6.
  1. Tan JK. Psychological impact of acne vulgaris: Evaluating the evidence. (9). Skin Ther Lett. 2004; 9:1–3.
  1. Tallab TM. Beliefs, perceptions and psychological impact of acne vulgaris among patients in the Assir region of Saudi Arabia. West Afr J Med. 2004;23:85–7.