59 per cent of young adults are affected by acne on a daily basis and while some grow out of it, for others acne is a skin condition that lingers for many years to come. Though most put acne down to the changing hormones that come with puberty, for anyone that’s experienced adult acne, such generalisations can be extremely harmful and do little to provide comfort in the fact that skin concerns should be normalised. Having acne doesn’t define you or your self-worth, and yet for those who have experienced it, acne can prove crippling, taking us away from social engagements and even work opportunities.
Now, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that people who suffer from severe acne should be offered mental health treatment, alongside any treatment they receive for their skin. The announcement is one we should applaud as for anyone that’s had to articulate what it’s like living with acne in vain to those who bemoan why you don’t socialise or go out anymore, it finally acknowledges just how big an impact conditions like acne have on your mental health and well-being.
The advice comes as Nice addresses acne in a guidance brief, which outlines that acne sufferers should receive therapies such as antibiotics and oral contraceptives (for women) as well as advising referrals to mental health services, especially for those with a history of experiencing depression and anxiety.
The news comes after reports revealed that young people tend to skip classes and social gatherings due to “bad skin”, which affects 59 per cent of 16 to 25 year olds on a daily basis, according to a survey by Biore x Ditch. It’s important to understand that acne is not a superficial issue. The British Journal of Dermatology found that there was a 63 per cent increased risk of depression in a person with acne compared to someone without. Previous research has also linked severe acne to suicidal behaviour.
As Dr Tanya Bleiker, president of the British Association of Dermatologists, explained to The Guardian, “This can be a challenging condition for people affected and for their families, carers and those treating them. Many long-term illnesses are linked to mental health problems like anxiety and depression.”
Bleiker added, “Acne has a particular effect on appearance, so in addition to depression and anxiety can be damaging to self-image, leading to isolation and sometimes to severe mental health disorders. This is often at times in life when people may feel vulnerable for many reasons.”