Evaluation of adolescents diagnosed with acne vulgaris for psychosocial challenges

Beginning treatment of acne vulgaris as soon as possible may prevent psychological difficulties associated with the disease

Acne has a significant effect on adolescents' quality of life and affects them psychosocially as well, a Turkish study shows.


Another important finding is that worsening in quality of life is not affected by factors such as duration, severity of acne and age. Even mild acne in adolescents may affect quality of life and cause psychosocial challenges.


Beginning treatment of acne vulgaris as soon as possible may prevent psychological difficulties associated with the disease and help adolescents move forward in a healthy way.


Results from the study were published in Indian Journal of Dermatology.


The present study included 164 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years who were referred to the dermatology outpatient clinic. These individuals had been diagnosed with acne vulgaris but never referred to any doctor or treated for acne before. Adolescents with acne excoriee, other dermatological diseases or chronic medical and mental diseases were excluded from the study. The control group consisted of 188 healthy adolescents who did not have any acne on the body, had not been referred to a child and adolescent psychiatry department before and who were without any chronic medical and/or mental disease.

Acne severity of the patients was evaluated by the global acne grading system (GAGS).

Since acne appears on the face and during adolescence, adolescents may have difficulty establishing social relations during this period, when so much importance is placed on external appearance. 


Prosocial behavior may be defined as positive relations between individuals. Consequently, the issues identified with this type of behavior remind us that adolescents may have social difficulties due to acne. Such difficulties affect peer relations negatively. Higher total difficulty and emotional symptom scores suggest that general stress levels also increase. Significantly, lower peer problems scores from SDQ subscales, as compared to the control group, show that acne affects friend relations, which is one of the most important functionality fields during adolescence, the study finds.


When it is considered that peer victimization is frequently associated with external appearance, adolescents with acne – particularly those with lesions on their face – may be exposed to peer victimization, and this may cause internalizing symptoms. Higher behavioral problem scores in the case group were taken as indicative of adolescents diagnosed with acne vulgaris presenting the psychological load as externalizing problems.