Acne is the most common skin condition we treat in our office. It’s also the main reason patients see a dermatologist nationwide.

The various different types of acne have lead to extensive research. The relationship between acne and self-esteem, especially in teenagers, has also resulted in a vast amount of study. Even mild acne can impact the self-esteem and confidence. Teens, markedly, are sensitive to changes in their bodies and their appearance.

The psychological impact of acne has been researched for over half a century. Some studies suggest as many as 70-87% of teens suffer from acne, whether mild or severe. And 30-50% of teens experience psychological issues associated with their acne.

At the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, we don’t just treat acne. We ensure our patients receive the psychological care they need too. Whether you’re suffering from acne yourself, or you’re watching your teen struggle, this blog will help you understand the connection between acne and self-esteem.


When you’re suffering from acne, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions. You may feel that you’re the only person you know suffering from acne. This could cause you to feel lonely and isolated.

Feeling that you’re the only one suffering from acne can also lead to feelings of frustration and anger — “why me?” These feelings are common among teens. It’s not uncommon for the feelings to lead to depression, which is much more serious.

Symptoms of depression can vary — some are mild, and some are severe. And it’s perfectly normal for the symptoms to come and go, sometimes on a day-to-day basis. Below is a list of depression symptoms from the American Psychiatric Association.

We take symptoms of depression very seriously, and are able to make referrals to wonderful providers who can help. Many patients start to see the symptoms of depression lift as their acne improves; however, depending on the course of treatment, this can take a few months.

It’s important to ensure symptoms of depression are managed and that you receive the care you need. And don’t feel like you’re alone — studies from countries all over the world link depression to acne.


When you look in the mirror, all you see is your acne. It can feel impossible to look beyond the acne to your bright smile or unique eye color. Suffering from acne can feel unfair, especially if all your friends seemingly have clear skin.

It’s important to remember how powerful your self-talk is. Self-talk, or the things you say to yourself, can have as much impact on your self-esteem as the things others say to you. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you aren’t attractive because of your acne, or that people don’t like you because of it, that’s what you’ll start to believe — and it simply isn’t true.

True friends value you for more than your appearance and won’t reject you because of your acne. Chances are, they don’t look at you and instantly assess the severity of your acne — they see you.


We understand that this may sound sound silly, but as we said, self-talk is powerful. Take a moment to think about the things you do like about yourself.

Perhaps you’re muscular and athletic. Maybe you’re into fashion and have great style. Or, you are consistently at the top of your class academically.

When your acne is making you feel especially low, consider asking friends and family what your best personality trait is. We’re sure you’ll hear some wonderful things about yourself that may help boost your confidence.

It can also be beneficial to your self-esteem to focus on strengthening existing talents or picking up a new hobby. For example, if you already play an instrument, how could you expand that skill set? Perhaps you play acoustic guitar and could learn electric guitar, too. Or perhaps you could start a new sport to stay healthy, fit and meet new people.

While acne can feel like it controls your life, it’s important to remember that you can get the condition under control. That’s why it’s so important to stay active, involved and social. You can’t keep waiting for your acne to be gone to start living a fulfilling and joyful life — no matter how much you want to stay at home and hide.

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The first step toward clearing up teenage acne is to make an appointment. At your appointment, your dermatologist will do a thorough assessment to establish an appropriate course of treatment for your acne.

The assessment will determine the clinical type and severity of the acne, as well as your skin type, and the presence of any scarring or hyperpigmentation.

For females, your dermatologist may ask about your menstrual cycle history to assess the possibility of your acne being caused by an underlying hormonal disorder, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

You’ll also be asked about your current skin care regime and acne treatment history. It’s a good idea to bring any products (face washes, lotions, creams, foundations, etc.) you’ve been using to your appointment. Talking about your current skin care will help your dermatologist adjust your routine to ensure the best possible outcome.

You should also be prepared to talk about the psychological impact of your acne, as previously mentioned. While this can be uncomfortable, it’s important to remember that your dermatologist is there to help you. Be honest about how your acne is making you feel.

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