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Acne and Self-Esteem Issues

“There is no single disease which causes more psychic trauma, more maladjustment between parents and children, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority and greater sums of psychic suffering than does acne vulgaris.” –Sulzberger & Zaldems, 1948

According to board certified psychiatrist and dermatologist John Koo, MD, acne affects more that just skin it affects self-confidence, self-esteem and body-image. Those suffering from chronic acne may withdraw socially, embarrass easily, manifest their anger outward/inward, suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings of inadequacy and frustration.

Dr. Koo’s article “The psychosocial impact of acne: Patients’ perceptions” published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, (1995, Vol. 32, p. 26–30) examines how real people are affected by acne – these are actual responses to open-ended questions [Ed. Note: Emphasis Added in Bold] :

“I think that if I had more self-esteem about the way I looked, I think I would have been more outgoing. I would have gone to more parties. I probably would have been more outspoken in class and would not have felt so insecure about going up and speaking in front of a group of classmates.”

It has been many years since I have looked in a mirror. I comb my hair using a silhouette on the wall to show the outline of my head. I have not looked myself in the eyes in years, and that is painful to not be able to do that, and that is a direct result of acne.

When my acne got more severe, I began to really examine more things, become more aware of social norms, what is acceptable, what is attractive. That is when I began to have lower self-esteem; it made me become more of an introvert. It made me want to avoid certain occasions. ‘Ask her out? Well, maybe not. She won’t be interested because of how I look.

It is really humiliating to feel like I have no control over my acne. I hold my head down and I am ashamed to look at: people, embarrassed. I am 25 years old and to be acting this way is very frustrating.

It’s associated with being dirty, and I hate that, because it’s not at all like that. I inherited it from my mother, and she is always telling me that she had the exact same thing, and that it will go away. I am mad that I inherited it from her. My dad makes me feel bad because he never had bad skin when he was younger, so he doesn’t understand.

My mother doesn’t know what she has done to hurt me. If I ate fatty foods, she would criticize. If I ate spicy food — which Thai food is, they are all spicy — she would say that because I ate spicy food, that was why I had pimples. She kept telling me how ugly my face was, and no one was going to marry me if I had bad-looking skin. And that really hurts me.

I know I am so insecure in this way — but if I go into a store, I won’t buy candy, even if I really want it. I think in my mind that people are looking at what I am buying, and thinking, ‘Oh, she eats junk. No wonder she has so many zits on her face.

Submitted by Ms. distressedDERMA on Wednesday, 26 March 2008


One Response to “Acne and Self-Esteem Issues”

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    Adult Acne: The Physical and Psychological Costs | distressedDERMA Says:

    […] we published an article on acne’s effect on self-esteem. From that article we reprint one of the most accurate quotes – a quote that many suffering from […]