How Acne Affects Your Self-Esteem

Acne can affect more than just your skin—it can impact your entire life in very real ways. Your family and friends may not fully understand just how acne influences your self-esteem. Even mild breakouts can make you feel less than confident.

Young man putting ointment on face
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Acne is often thought to be a trivial problem, especially when compared to other diseases. But some studies have shown that people with acne experienced social, psychological, and emotional ramifications at the same level as those with chronic health problems, like epilepsy, diabetes, and arthritis. Clearly, the emotional consequences of acne shouldn't be taken lightly.

The Link Between Depression and Anxiety

Having acne can make you feel depressed, angry, anxious, and overwhelmed. It doesn't matter if your acne is mild or more severe, your feelings are valid.

It also doesn't matter your age. Adults are just as likely as teens to feel that acne negatively affects their lives—regardless of how severe their acne is. This may be because their acne has been longer-lasting or resistant to treatment.

It is normal to feel down every now and then in you have acne. But if feelings of depression persist or interfere with your quality of life, do not hesitate to ask for a referral to a therapist who can offer counseling and support.

The Effect of Acne on Self-Esteem and Appearance

Our society puts a great emphasis on appearance. Everyone has something about themselves that they aren't too keen about—whether it's the shape of your nose or the size of your thighs. But because acne typically appears on your face, the part of yourself that you show to the world, it has even more impact.

Many people with acne feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about their skin. The prevalence of myths regarding why acne forms might even lead you to feel a sense of guilt or shame as if you are somehow responsible for your acne (don't worry, you're not).

These feelings can be so strong that they prevent people with acne from doing things they really want to do. You might not want to pose for family pictures at a reunion. You might decide not to go swimming so your back acne doesn't show.

Some people with acne have trouble looking others in the eye, while others completely avoid all social situations. If you feel this way, you're definitely not alone.

What You Can Do to Improve Your Acne and Quality of Life

Acne doesn't have to rule your life. The first step is to get help right away. The treatment itself can help bring about a more positive attitude, even if you've struggled with acne for years. Many people experience a significant improvement in self-esteem and quality of life with the improvement of acne.

Find a dermatologist who is sympathetic and willing to address the emotional issues that go along with acne. Be honest with your healthcare provider. Let her know if acne is considerably affecting your self-esteem, interfering with your social life, or making you feel depressed or anxious.

Ideally, your self-esteem will improve along with your clearing skin. But don't hesitate to get help if you need it.

Seek out a support system. Having a compassionate person, or group of people, who understand what you are going through can help dispel feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Having a friend with whom you can talk openly may be just what you need.

Acne support groups can often be found on Facebook, and there are a number of online forums that allow you to post questions or express concerns to others understand first hand what you are going through.

Be aware that many acne forums are outdated and offer advice that is no longer true. Some users may also market untested acne "cures" that are not only useless but potentially harmful.

A Word From Verywell

Taking steps to nurture yourself while treating your skin, can help bolster your self-image and buoy your self-esteem. Start by understanding what acne is and what treatments may be appropriate and beneficial to you as an individual. By working a certified dermatologist, you are most likely to achieve an improvement in your skin health as well as your emotional health.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hazarika N, Archana M. The psychosocial impact of acne vulgaris. Indian J Dermatol. 2016;61(5):515-20. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.190102

  2. Davern J, O'donnell AT. Stigma predicts health-related quality of life impairment, psychological distress, and somatic symptoms in acne sufferers. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(9):e0205009. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0205009

  3. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Health topics: acne. Reviewed September 26, 2016.

  4. Fabbrocini G, Cacciapuoti S, Monfrecola G. A qualitative investigation of the impact of acne on health-related quality of life (HRQL): Development of a conceptual model. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2018;8(1):85-99. doi:10.1007/s13555-018-0224-7

  5. Gallitano SM, Berson DS. How acne bumps cause the blues: the influence of acne vulgaris on self-esteem. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2018;4(1):12-17. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.10.004

Additional Reading

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.