Acne Can Take An Emotional Toll On You. Here's How To Stop It

Dealing with acne can bring many challenges in both the physical and emotional realms. It is something that usually happens with puberty, affecting many people in their teenage years and beyond.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 73.3% of 1,013 participants aged 20 years and older reported having ever had acne. Women were found to report acne more than men, coming in at 50.9% experiencing acne in their 20s versus 42.5% of men. Percentages for women in their 30s with acne were 35.2% versus 20.1% of men. Some people in their 50s also reported having acne.


Acne is a skin condition that happens when hair follicles, or pores, become clogged and then form into pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads usually on the face. These bumps can come in many shapes and sizes, are often red in color, and can cause physical pain in the area they're present. It can also affect someone's appearance which can lead to more than just the physical pain of it all.

The emotional pain caused by acne

Unfortunately, acne can also be seen as a negative trait because some people don't think it fits beauty standards. This societal outlook can impact one's emotional response to their own acne. It can cause low self-esteem, insecurities, anxiety, and depression. If you experience these struggles, it may feel like it's an endless cycle dealing with the frustration and emotional toll it brings (via Patient).


"I wanted to be respected as a young professional, but my acne made me feel like I was not an adult," medical student Natalie Kretzing tells The New York Times, explaining that her social life was also affected by her acne. "I had to spend so much time on my appearance and makeup that it was exhausting, and I often ended up canceling plans. I couldn't be spontaneous because it would take me so long to get ready."

Many times, acne can also bring on a feeling of hopelessness. This can manifest through anger or frustration when people who have acne feel like they don't have control over it.

According to a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, acne can impair one's quality of life, regardless of whether the acne is considered severe or mild. If a person's quality of life is impaired, they may be more likely to develop anxiety or depression.


How to cope

A study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that acne treatment can improve quality of life. Treatment can include oral or topical medications or even a targeted skincare routine. Consulting a dermatologist could be helpful.


Otherwise, there are ways to shift your mindset into a better place. Jumping over the emotional hurdles of having acne is easier said than done, but it isn't impossible. Keep in mind that acne is very common, and it isn't a flaw and it doesn't make you any less worthy. You're beautiful the way you are. 

"Focusing on things that were beautiful about me [rather than my skin] helped boost my confidence... I danced ballet, so I would focus on how strong I was," Jacquelyn Klein tells Repeller. "My advice to my younger self: Don't touch your face. Let the pimples do what they do, leave them alone. Don't try to cover everything up because that always ends up making it worse. Just do enough to make yourself feel more secure. Know that your skin is not what people are focusing on, and if it is, then those are not the kind of people you should interact with."


Other women shared their experiences with Repeller, noting how they shifted their experiences with acne, emphasizing that there is nothing ugly about it.

Exercise, adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and meditation can benefit your mental health, notes WebMD. You may also find healthy friendships, therapy, and support groups to be helpful in your journey.