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Is acne still a social stigma?

New study examines the problem and makes us think about the impact of acne on sufferers

Is acne still a social stigma? New study examines the problem and makes us think about the impact of acne on sufferers

Acne is a very common condition. Pimples, boils, and skin eruptions are absolutely normal. They particularly manifest on the face, but can appear in various areas of the body. Contrary to what one might think, it's not a skin problem limited only to teenagers but more and more adults find themselves having to deal with this condition. The causes, as well as the solutions, can be many and different depending on the cases. However, there is a characteristic that seems to be shared and reluctant to be eliminated: the social stigma that often causes discomfort and psychosocial difficulties for those who suffer from it, negatively impacting their quality of life. Unfortunately, the data confirm this.

Acne: women are more prone than men

Last February, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published the first study conducted globally on the epidemiology of acne. Presented by Pierre Fabre Laboratories, the project collected testimonies from over 50,000 adult subjects representative of the population of 20 countries on 5 continents with the aim of developing new prevention and treatment strategies for this chronic skin condition. Among the most important discoveries, it was found that acne affects 1 in 5 people globally, with a higher prevalence in adolescents/young adults (16-24 years old) at 28.3% and 19.3% among adults in the 25-39 age group. Furthermore, women are generally more prone to acne (23.6%) compared to men (17.5%).

More Insights into Adult Acne

A recent study presented at the congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology sheds light on the significant stigma associated with adult acne. The results revealed that faces with acne are perceived as significantly less attractive, less reliable, less successful, less confident, and less dominant. In particular, the results showed that female adult acne, concentrated around the U-zone, namely around the jawline, mouth, and chin, received the lowest scores in terms of attractiveness and was considered the most visually bothersome.

The Impact of Acne on Quality of Life

Reading these data, it is easy to imagine that acne has negative effects on those who have it, such as experiencing fatigue (50%) and sleep disturbances (41%). Additionally, acne patients report feeling excluded or rejected by others (31%), sensing that people avoid physical contact (27%) or approaching them (26%). It's not surprising that the consequences of this situation often include psychological discomfort, difficulty accepting pimples, low self-esteem, anxiety, social isolation, and depression.

Are Pimple Patches the Solution for Accepting Acne?

Celebrities like Adwoa Aboah, Kendall Jenner, Iris Law, Hailey Bieber casually display their pimple patches in public, even pairing them with outfits, as if they were a purse or a pair of earrings. Millie Bobby Brown even appeared as a guest on Drew Barrymore's show with a patch from her beauty brand, Florence by Mills, prominently displayed on her cheek! The fact that more people are going out with a star or a heart soaked in salicylic acid helps normalize seborrheic skin. It can contribute to changing the cultural approach and, along with online campaigns like #freethepimple, encourage people of all ages to accept and destigmatize acne. But it's not enough. There is a need to show, even in the mass media, people with different skin types, including those that are commonly referred to as imperfect. Thus, perhaps, thanks to visibility and an open and optimistic dialogue, fewer and fewer people will feel embarrassed and insecure in case of skin eruptions.

Destigmatizing Acne: Where Are We?

While on one hand, the movement for skin positivity is spreading, and the number of celebrities and influencers, from Iris Law to Aurora Ramazzotti, openly discussing it and showing themselves to followers with skin eruptions is increasing, on the other hand, the proliferation of aesthetics like glass skin and beauty filters imposes the dictate of having perfect skin, an exclusive club from which those dealing with breakouts, inflammations, and comedones are banned due to their inadequacy. These antithetical phenomena make those with acne feel confused to the point where words like "you don't have to be perfect to be beautiful" and "perfection doesn't exist" seem like truths spoken into the wind. The fact that pimple patches no longer have a medical appearance but are cute enough to be worn like makeup can help those who feel inadequate, as long as it's not just another beauty trend of the moment.