Spots, pimples, blackheads, call them what you like – if you suffer from acne, the well-known skin condition that arises when your hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, it can affect the way you feel as well as the way you look.
While acne usually occurs on the face, it can also present on the chest, shoulders and upper back, in fact, all the areas were the skin has the most sebaceous glands. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t only affect adolescents. People of all ages can suffer from acne.
At best, mild forms of acne are a passing problem of some annoyance but of no great long-term consequence. At worst, persistent severe acne has the potential to seriously jeopardise a person’s sense of self-worth. So, what can you do about it?
Seek medical attention
If you cannot get your acne under control with conventional skincare products, OTC medication, lifestyle and dietary changes, perhaps it is time to get professional help. Let your GP know that you are struggling to treat the condition; they may be able to prescribe something more potent.
If you are suffering from severe acne, a dermatologist can create a personalised treatment plan for your skin. Embarking on a targeted acne treatment regime means you’re actively engaged in improving your skin which, in turn, will also lift your mental state and increase confidence. In extreme cases, laser surgery may be the answer. “The inflammatory process in acne causes damage to the collagen scaffold of the skin resulting in pitted acne scars. In about 5% of cases acne results in overgrown raised scars,” explains a leading expert in the management of acne scarring.
Watch out for warning signs that your mental health may be compromised as a result of your acne. If you are continually agonising over your skin, if you are withdrawing from social engagements because your skin makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you are showing signs of depression, you should tell your doctor straight away.
In many cases, acne is more than skin deep. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that acne sufferers were at increased risk of depression. Research carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists found that over 20% of participants felt that their acne suffering had negatively impacted social interactions such as relationships, friendships and work.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to take attention off your skin and redeploy that energy in a more positive direction, helping to boost your self-esteem.
- Look after your body
Self-care starts with looking after your physical wellbeing. Are you getting enough good quality sleep? Are you eating a healthy diet? Are you getting plenty of fresh air and exercise? Focus your attention on prioritising your physical needs and it will help improve your overall outlook on life too.
- Do something you love
If your work and/or home life is hectic and stressful, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel depleted. Make sure that you schedule in some ‘me time’ every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Listen to music, read a book, do some gardening, and remind yourself how enjoyable these simple pleasures make your life, even with acne.
- Develop your unique talents
Focus on the skills you know you have and make them an important part of your life. Are you a talented painter or an accomplished cook? Do you have a passion for languages and travel, or a great sense of humour? Find an area in which you can shine to reaffirm to yourself that you are more than meets the eye.
- Give something back
Supporting others in the community who need your help is an excellent way to beat the blues. Whether you volunteer to play board games with care home residents or take part in a beach clean up, find a cause that resonates with you and get involved. You will feel valued, have some fun, maybe learn something and gain a fresh perspective.
- Spend time with positive people
Avoid giving your energy to people who make you feel bad. Instead, surround yourself with family, friends and acquaintances who are happy to accept, respect and love you just the way you are. Despite whatever imperfections you think you may have, you will feel appreciated for your positive qualities, not reminded of your failings.
- Focus on the good
The well-known phrase ‘where attention goes, energy flows’ describes the Law of Attraction that essentially says we create our own reality. So, don’t obsess about your appearance in front of the mirror or dwell on your imperfections. Instead, focus on the positive elements you like about yourself and the happy things in your life.