How Acne Affects Your Self-Esteem

What to Do When Acne Hurts Your Self-Image

Young woman with mild acne.
Photo: Dawn Poland / Getty Images

Acne can affect more than just your skin—it can impact your entire life in very real ways. Your family and friends may not fully understand just how acne influences your self-esteem. Even mild breakouts can make you feel less-than-confidant.

Acne is often thought to be a trivial problem, especially when compared to other diseases. But some studies have shown that people with acne experienced social, psychological, and emotional ramifications at the same level of those with chronic health problems, like epilepsy, diabetes, and arthritis.

Clearly, the emotional consequences of acne shouldn't be taken lightly.

Acne Can Make You Feel Depressed

Having acne can make you feel depressed, angry, anxious, and overwhelmed. It doesn't matter if your acne is mild or more severe, your feelings are valid.

It also doesn't matter your age. Adults are just as likely as teens to feel that acne negatively affects their lives—regardless of how severe their acne is. This may be because their acne has been longer-lasting or resistant to treatment, or because there is a greater social stigma for adults with acne.

Everyone, with or without acne, gets down every once in a while. But if you're feeling depressed for a prolonged period of time, it's important you talk with a professional.

Acne Can Impact Your Social Life

Our society puts a great emphasis on appearance. Everyone has something about themselves that they aren't too keen about—whether it's the shape of your nose or the size of your thighs.

But because acne typically appears on your face, the part of yourself that you show to the world, it has even more impact. Many people with acne feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about their skin. The prevalence of myths regarding why acne forms might even lead you to feel a sense of guilt or shame as if you are somehow responsible for your acne (don't worry, you're not).

These feelings can be so strong that they prevent people with acne from doing things they really want to do. You might not want to pose for family pictures at a reunion. You might decide not to go swimming so your back acne doesn't show.

Some people with acne have trouble looking others in the eye, while others completely avoid all social situations. If you feel this way, you're definitely not alone.

You Can Improve Your Self-Esteem Through Treatment—Don't Wait

Acne doesn't have to rule your life. The first step is to get help right away. Treatment itself can help bring about a more positive attitude, even if you've struggled with acne for years. Many people experience a significant improvement of self-esteem and quality of life with the improvement of acne.

Find a dermatologist who is sympathetic and willing to address the emotional issues that go along with acne. Be honest with your doctor. Let her know if acne is considerably affecting your self-esteem, interfering with your social life, or making you feel depressed or anxious.

Ideally, your self-esteem will improve along with your clearing skin. But don't hesitate to get help if you need it.

Seek out a support system. Having a compassionate person, or group of people, who understand what you are going through can help dispel feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

Having a friend with whom you can talk openly may be just what you need. But if you need more than just a sympathetic ear, let your doctor know so you can get the help you need.

A Word From Verywell

Taking steps to nurture yourself while treating your skin, can help bolster your self-image and buoy your self-esteem. You're not alone—and things can get better.

Sources:

Chilicka K, Maj J, Panaszek B. General quality of life of patients with acne vulgaris before and after performing selected cosmetological treatments. Patient Preference and Adherence. 2017;Volume 11:1357-1361. doi:10.2147/ppa.s131184.

Dunn LK, O'Neill JL, Feldman SR. Acne in adolescents: quality of life, self-esteem, mood, and psychological disorders. Dermatol Online J. 2011 Jan 15;17(1):1.

Hazarika N, Archana M. The psychosocial impact of acne vulgaris. Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2016;61(5):515. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.190102. 

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