Acne can be incredibly embarrassing for young people - and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s just a few spots or a face full of red, angry pimples.
It’s difficult enough adjusting to physical and emotional changes associated with puberty and the subsequent transition to adulthood, without also feeling self-conscious about troublesome skin.
The fact is that young people are sensitive about their appearance, especially as they start to experiment with relationships and enter the workforce for the first time.
And there is evidence from numerous studies around the world that acne makes a significant contribution to how young people feel and cope at this time in their lives.
Acne has been shown to reduce young people’s quality of life, self-esteem and mood. It has been associated with both anxiety and depression, and worryingly, with suicidal thoughts. Concerning signs of emotional distress might include less interaction with their peers or avoidance of social situations.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. Acne is a medical condition so if over-the-counter treatments from your pharmacist aren’t working, it’s time to see a GP.
There are many effective treatments for acne including topical creams and gels as well as oral medications to target the causes of acne including excessive oil production, blocked pores or skin bacteria.
All About Acne advises young people to start a daily skin care regimen based on gentle non-soap cleansers. Acne products, containing ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, are also a good start, inexpensive and widely available without a prescription.
Young people with acne that persists beyond eight weeks should consider a visit to the GP for further assessment and treatment. Untreated, moderate to severe acne can leave both physical and psychological scars.
Parents and friends can provide good quality advice by steering young people with acne to accurate and up to date information from credible resources such as All About Acne or from friendly health professionals including pharmacists and GPs.