Acne is awful. There’s no possible way to sugar-coat it.
Whether you’re prone to the odd breakout or suffer what feels like an eternal struggle with aggressive acne, it really is one of the most challenging skin conditions, both mentally and physically.
When we see patients that have suffered from years of acne, the first thing we look at is their mental state. Acne causes serious distress on the mental health of our patients and as dermal therapists it’s our job to assess that damage as seriously as we do the damage on your skin.
The interplay between anxiety and acne is very important to consider as part of your treatment plan. While anxiety alone won’t directly cause acne to develop it certainly plays a part in why it occurs and it plays an even bigger part in the severity of breakouts.
To understand their relationship, we need to first understand what acne and anxiety are.
Acne is bacteria in the skin. It is an inflammation or infection of your sebaceous glands.
Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress.
While you might have developed acne because of a hormonal imbalance (common in teenagers and young adults) and/or because of a poor choice in diet, acne is greatly enhanced by the onset of stress related (anxiety) hormones.
During our skin assessment for all new clients, our dermal therapists will commonly ask, does your bad skin bother you? The answer is almost always YES! How can it not, especially when it is directly on your face. Acne not only looks bad but can also be painful and cause sensitivity to the surrounding skin.
It is hard to disguise with makeup and often can further irritate and spread the bacteria causing a vicious cycle of even more acne and anxiety.
So how do we stop being anxious about our skin?
Step 1. Devise a treatment plan
At Face Plus a typical acne treatment plan involves a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes, meticulous at home skincare and in clinic facials, laser and light therapy.
Once our clients understand that there is a process to ensure progress, they already start to feel more at ease. Anxiety is largely dealing with uncertainty, which a treatment plan hopes to settle.
Step 2. Be Patient
The next step is to learn patience. Just a single pimple can take a while to form on the skin so you need to be realistic with your recovery time. Clients need to remember to take their treatment plan day by day.
It is often helpful to keep a selfie or photo journal to track your progress.
Step 3. Acceptance
Accepting that sometimes it might get worse, before it gets better. This is a hard one to swallow, and I speak from personal experience.
Often after an acne extraction, herbal peel or SGA treatment, the skin is even more inflamed than when you walked in. The skin is a living organ and the treatments are designed to provoke a reaction. While we do offer healing light therapy to calm the skin, don’t expect to walk out of an acne treatment with blemish free skin.
Step 4. Celebrate Milestones
A very important part of the treatment plan is to celebrate the victories, however, small they are. This can mean going a week without the breakout inducing dairy or saturated fat from your diet.
Or saying YAY because you woke up without your usual cyclops pimple on your forehead. Forward is forward and by learning to embrace the wins, you’ll find yourself believing a bit more in the process which in turn will help settle your anxiety.
Step 5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Acne, is one of the most common skin afflictions. 90% of people suffer from it at one point in time. Whatever you’re going through, take comfort knowing that someone else is fighting the exact same battle.
Make sure to discuss your feelings with family, friends and of course your dermal therapist.