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New Study Highlights Acne’s Impact on Women’s Quality of Life

Posted on: August 25th, 2021 by Kristen Chang

Feeling anxious about returning to the classroom or the office this fall? That’s perfectly natural. But it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and assess what really may be going on. Is it possible that acne is pushing your anxiety to higher levels? If so, you are far from alone. New scientific data confirms that acne can take a toll on women’s mental health and quality of life.

Almost half of women with moderate or severe acne who participated in a new study reported a level of self-consciousness that affected their social, professional, and personal lives.

More than 50% of women in their 20s struggle with acne

Although the study was small in size with a total of 50 women volunteer participants, it is one of the first U.S. studies to focus on how women’s mental health can be affected by acne. Plus, it corroborates larger international studies on this subject. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dermatology edition.

The study reported that 24 of the 50 women who ranged in age from 18 to 40, expressed anxiety and stress about their acne. They said that their acne made them embarrassed and worried about how other people perceived their appearance. This, in turn, prompted some of them to limit their daily activities and interaction with others.

“The results of this qualitative study highlight that acne has multifaceted quality-of-life consequences in women,” the authors stated. “Although acne is often viewed as a disease of adolescence, more than 50% of women experience acne in their 20s and more than 35% in their 30s.” For many women, these are the key years for building their careers and meeting potential life partners.

Women report not leaving their house when acne flares up

Acne is actually the eighth most prevalent disease worldwide, and its negative health-related quality-of-life consequences are seen across all ages. Yet, it is often thought of as a problem of adolescence.

Many studies have documented the challenging quality-of-life effects of acne on adolescents. Far fewer have explored the real-world experience of acne in adults. Because acne often continues into adulthood, assessing adult women’s viewpoints on acne and acne treatment can help guide clinical management.

Admittedly, adult acne affects men as well as women. But women in our culture may feel under greater pressure to look attractive. Some studies have found that women dislike open office plans because they perceive themselves constantly being viewed, judged and evaluated on their appearance. In the present study on adult acne in women, some participants told the researchers that they seldom leave their house or only leave their house wearing makeup when their acne flares up.

However, a recent commissioned survey of 2,000 Americans found that regardless of age or gender, half of survey responders admitted turning off the camera for Zoom meetings when they had a blemish or acne flareup.

Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) reported skipping a party, while others have missed school (21%), or a day out with friends (20%) because of a breakout or blemishes.

Although the survey was privately commissioned by an acne medication company which makes the findings not exactly scientific, the numbers reported seem plausible.

From both sets of data, we can conclude that acne causes many people to suffer anxiety to the point of canceling plans but that women are twice as likely to isolate themselves during an acne flareup.

Study Highlights the Importance of a Dermatologist Who Listens to You

Another facet revealed by the Dermatology study was that some of the women voiced frustration with trying to find a dermatologist who made them feel comfortable and happy with their treatment plans.

“In contrast, those who thought their dermatologist listened to their concerns and individualized their treatment plan reported higher levels of satisfaction,” the study authors reported.

That’s us. The board-certified dermatologists at California Skin Institute take great pride in their patient-centered approach. We consider each patient’s input, lifestyle factors, preferences and feedback a vital part of developing and maintaining a customized treatment plan for acne.

Our vast network of over 40 California locations staffed with more than 90 providers allows us to offer each patient a unique acne treatment plan that can include a combination of our medical and cosmetic procedures. Our company’s size gives us the resources to keep up with the latest medical scientific developments and technology, such as state-of-the-art lasers for expert skin resurfacing with minimal downtime. Call today for an appointment. Teledermatology appointments also available.

Also, as we mask up again in many situations, here’s how to prevent “maskne.”


“Acne Takes a Toll on Women’s Mental Health, Quality of Life,” MedPage Today, July 28, 2021,

“Nearly half of Americans turn camera off during Zoom meetings over appearance insecurities,” StudyFinds. August 12, 2021,

“Patient Perspectives on the Lived Experience of Acne and Its Treatment Among Adult Women With Acne,” Jama Dermatology, July 28, 2021,

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