My acne is depressing me – can anything help?

A recent Swedish study has confirmed that there is an association between depression and suicide with acne. Especially when acne is severe, it can interfere with everyday functioning. A Norwegian study recently showed that the presence of acne is associated with a low attachment to friends, not thriving in school, and an impairment of romantic relationships. Treating acne can help. There are various acne medications available, ranging from topical creams to medications to take by mouth. The earlier you treat your acne, the lower the risk of developing scars, which are permanent. Some patients may suffer from depression totall separate from their acne, so treating the acne may not necessarily be a cure. It is important for parents, friends, teachers, and doctors all to work together to help improve patients' acne and monitor patients for depression. 

Yes, there are many effective treatments for acne! Your observation about its impact on your emotions is not unusual, according to scientific studies. But please be aware that acne care alone isn't always the answer to depression. It's a good idea to seek mental health counseling while you're waiting for your skin to clear up.

When acne is serious enough to cause depression, it probably should be treated by a dermatologist, because doctors in this specialty have the most experience with acne. Treatments that work well include topical antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, retinoids (such as tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene), and oral antibiotics. If these are not effective enough, your doctor may treat you with an antibiotic by mouth, or with a birth control pill if you're a young woman.  

Patients with very severe acne that doesn't respond to these medications may be candidates for the oral drug isotretinoin. This medicine works extremely well, but when there is a history of depression, it's important to tell your dermatologist and to consult with a mental health professional before considering whether or not to take isotretinoin.   



Studies confirm that acne that resists treatment can often cause mild or moderate depression. In addition to topical cleansers and treatment creams, which typically include benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid, retinoids and sulfur, doctors will sometimes prescribe oral contraceptives and antibiotics. If you have one bothersome inflamed pimple, the dermatologist will sometimes inject it with a cortisone shot.
Painful persistent acne can also be treated with new lasers and photodynamic therapy or PDT, which also helps to treat bacteria associated with acne. Talk to a dermatologist in order to create a personalized acne prevention and treatment plan.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.