• Clarke Kennedy

Acne: How it Can Impact a Teenager’s Development

Our teenage years can be an awkward time. Body image is often the most common thing teens worry about. Social media filters and edits have reinforced the idea that we need to appear flawless in order to be liked. For teens suffering from acne, there is added anxiety surrounding their body image. Wearing a mask, heavy makeup, and baggy clothes can all temporary hide our imperfections. But how do we teach each other the importance of embracing our imperfections?

Every person struggles with their own unique insecurities. However, feeling embarrassed about our skin is something which can be particularly difficult to cope with. Our face is often the first thing people focus on when meeting us. Having highly visible acne can cause us to withdraw from others and fear social interactions. Chronic acne can take a serious toll on a young person’s academic performance, peer relationships, and mental health.

Acne is incredibly common. John Hopkins University reports that around 85% of young people experience acne.[1]Teens who experience acne should know that this is a normal part of their development. Most people do not care if you have acne as they are probably more focused on their own insecurities.

Unfortunately, young people can still be ridiculed for their imperfections. To make matters worse, acne is something which we have little control over. Diets, creams, and antibiotics can sometimes help mitigate symptoms. However, these treatments do not address the impact acne has on a young person’s self-esteem and body image.

Research has shown that youth who have severe acne are more likely to suffer from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.[2] Clearly, the issue of acne is more than skin deep – it can have long-lasting effects on a teenager’s development. Bringing awareness to this issue requires us to not be embarrassed to talk about our insecurities.

Being open and honest about our flaws is liberating and cathartic. It is impossible to try and be perfect 24/7. The beauty standards portrayed in the media are designed to sell products and are not a realistic portrayal of real human beings. Life would be boring if we all had the same cookie-cutter appearance and characteristics.

If your acne is making you feel depressed and anxious – reach out to a counsellor who can help. Do not let acne hold you back from making lasting memories and achieving your dreams. Isolating yourself will only make your fears become worse. Our difficulties always become less scary when we share them with someone we trust.

[1] https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/ACH-News/General-News/Acne-in-Adolescents-and-Young-Adults [2] Halvorsen, J. A., Stern, R. S., Dalgard, F., Thoresen, M., Bjertness, E., & Lien, L. (2011). Suicidal ideation, mental health problems, and social impairment are increased in adolescents with acne: a population-based study. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 131(2), 363-370.

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