Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
August 04, 2021
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Acne affects personal, professional lives of adult women

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Women with acne reported concerns about health and appearance, as well as disruptions to their personal and professional lives, according to a study.

“Nearly 50% of women experience acne in their 20s, and 35% experience acne in their 30s. While several qualitative studies have examined acne in adolescence, the lived experience of adult female acne has not been explored in detail,” John S. Barbieri, MD, MBA, of the department of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, told Healio. “As a result, we conducted a series of semi-structured interviews among 50 adult women with acne to examine the lived experience of adult acne and its treatment.”

Women with acne reported concerns about health and appearance, as well as disruptions to their personal and professional lives.

A qualitative analysis was conducted based on the data gathered from free-listing and open-ended interviews, which included women aged 18 to 40 years old with moderate to severe acne.

Subjects were asked about how acne had affected their lives, mental health and emotional health and about everyday consequences of living with acne.

Many respondents described feeling less confident at work due to their acne, as well as how their appearance affected both their personal and professional lives.

“Themes of depression, anxiety and social isolation were common,” Barbieri said. “Some described feeling that their acne made them appear younger or less professional, trustworthy or qualified at work.”

Achieving successful treatment, defined as having completely clear skin over time or a manageable number of blemishes, proved to be a frustrating factor as some described difficulty finding a dermatologist they were comfortable with. Many individuals also expressed interest in non-antibiotic acne treatments, according to Barbieri. In addition, while isotretinoin proved effective for many subjects, its side effects were cause for concern.

“Adult women with acne describe significant impacts on their lived experience, including concerns about appearance, mental and emotional health consequences, and disruption to their personal and professional lives,” Barbieri said. “Acne should not be viewed as a cosmetic problem given these significant life impacts. Clinicians should make sure to discuss these themes with patients to fully understand the patient’s lived experience of acne.”