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23-09-2010 | Article

Severe acne linked to mental health problems


Free abstract

MedWire News: The risk for mental health problems may be increased in teenagers with substantial acne, researchers report.

The findings indicate that these unwanted effects, such as depression and suicidal thoughts, which have previously been associated with acne therapy, may in fact reflect the burden of severe acne rather than the effects of medication.

"Knowledge of the psychosocial problems related to acne is of importance in determining optimal health care," say Jon Halvorsen (University of Oslo, Norway) and team.

The researchers assessed the mental health and lifestyles of 3775 adolescents mainly aged 18-19 years, of whom 14% had substantial acne.

The adolescents with substantial acne were more likely to have had suicidal thoughts than adolescents with less or no acne. Indeed, twice as many girls and three times as many boys with substantial acne reported experiencing suicidal thoughts compared with their peers with little or no acne.

The study findings also showed a high degree of social impairment among adolescents with substantial acne.

"Acne almost certainly causes embarrassment, stigma, shame, guilt, and low self-esteem, which are likely to cause psychosocial problems," Dr Halvorsen and team write in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

"Acne may cause depression, which then results in impaired social functioning and suicidal ideation."

The researchers conclude: "These findings have public health implications because they underscore the need for appropriate health care for adolescent boys and girls in the community."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lucy Piper