Acne, whether the common teenage variety or the rarer adult variety, is one among several types of skin infections that could produce serious skin blemishes and aesthetically undesirable consequences. Aside from the obvious physical markings that come with the onset of the acne, there is also the possibility that the breakout would leave scars on the face. While only adult acne and a select few skin infections leave scars, these marks are often difficult and costly to remove. Facial scars due to acne can have serious mental and social implications. Acne and skin infections can have mental health side effects that can be more serious than the infection itself since skin problems often have an effect on a person’s self-esteem.
A temporary bout of social anxiety is common among people who suffer from acne. Since most people view the skin as a visual indication of a person’s physical well-being and hygiene, blemishes can often be perceived quite negatively. People can interpret the acne as signs of poor hygiene or physical health, as well as being possible signs of unhealthy dietary choices. Some people to slowly avoid people with acne, especially in communities or groups where physical attractiveness and “sameness” are critical to social survival, a situation found in a typical high school campus. This detachment, along with the acne patient’s own perception – one that is all too often affected by outside influences – can result in social withdrawal. The acne sufferer’s withdrawal and sense of being socially unacceptable can even worsen and lead to an onset of social anxiety in some cases.
Another potential problem brought about by acne is status anxiety. As previously stated, some communities embrace a culture of “sameness” that causes members to subconsciously ostracize those who are perceived to be “different.” While extreme in interpretation, people with acne are often seen to be among those who are “different.” But for the popular, high-ranking members of society, any sign of skin imperfection can even cause status anxiety. Modern society often puts pressure on people to either retain their status or improve it, which is among the leading causes of stress and anxiety in people. This pressure is an underlying force behind social interactions with one’s perceived peers and superiors, but can come into the foreground with the onset of acne. As acne becomes manifest, concern over one’s physical appearance as a factor in one’s social standing grows. Once a certain point, which is different for each person, has been reached, status anxiety sets in as the person becomes increasingly worried about how the “infection” will affect his status within his social circle.
Perhaps among the more drastic effects of acne on the human psyche would be depression, though this is arguably more like a side effect of the previously mentioned issues. Typically, depression makes itself manifest if the acne has been prevalent for a prolonged period. As the social isolation continues, the patient also loses more and more confidence in his social skills and standing. This social anxiety, combined with worries over the perceived decline in his standing among his peers, can often make the situation seem hopeless for a person. The state of depression, which may only be perception and not an accurate reflection of the situation, can have dangerous consequences on a person’s mental health. The possible psychological fallout caused by prolonged depression can easily outlast even the worst acne outbreak, with the possibility of becoming worse if the patient develops acne again later in life.
The potential psychological fallout caused by acne should be a major concern for anyone who is fighting acne. As such, acne should be taken seriously and treated properly from the start. If over the counter medications are failing to alleviate the problem, then consult a professional for advice. Be sure to follow the instructions given for the acne medication, whether this is over-the-counter or prescribed, to minimize the chances of side effects occurring. While prescription acne treatments and acne scar removal surgery might seem expensive, they can prove to be worthwhile long-term investments when compared with the costs of therapy and anti-depressants.