Help for problematic skin

To anyone who regularly suffers from blemishes and breakouts, it’s clear that problematic skin can affect us more than physically. Although acne is a common skin condition that affects many people at some point in their lives, long-term and severe cases are increasingly being recognised for the psychological impact they can have.  

Last year, The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) recommended mental health support for people who are severely affected by their acne for the first time. This marked a big step in support for those suffering with problematic skin and the psychological distress that can occur as a result.  

Although not everyone with problematic skin experiences emotional distress, for some people it can impact on self-esteem and mental health. The new guideline is the first by NICE to address acne vulgaris, with recommendations emphasing the importance of supporting the mental health of those experiencing significant psychological distress. The guideline advises clinicians to consider referring patients to mental health services where appropriate, especially for those with a current or history of severe depression or anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, suicidal ideation and self-harm. 

If you are feeling low or anxious because of your skin, it’s important to speak to your GP for help and support, but what else can you do? 

  • Remember you are not alone. Some people may take comfort in the fact that it is increasingly common to feel down because of a skin concern or condition and many others are going through similar experiences. Acne and related feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem are also not restricted to teenagers. Studies have found that adults are just as likely to feel that acne has a negative impact on their lives as adolescents.* 
  • If you haven’t already, get your skin assessed by a medical professional. If acne is diagnosed medically, your doctor will be able to tell you what type you have and can recommend a treatment plan. They may also refer you to a dermatologist if your case is severe. 
  • Do your research to find a dermatologist or psychodermatologist you can trust. Finding a practitioner that you can be honest with can set you on the right path to addressing any emotional issues you have. 


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*Davern J, O'donnell AT. Stigma predicts health-related quality of life impairment, psychological distress, and somatic symptoms in acne sufferers. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(9) 

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