To describe the psychosocial impact of acne on adolescents, and, in particular, to assess whether self-concept is affected by medical treatment, we evaluated 39 teenagers presenting for care to a community-based dermatologist. Prior to and following treatment, subjects completed a self-assessment questionnaire, the Piers-Harris self-concept scale, and underwent an objective assessment of acne severity. Fifty-eight percent of subjects were dissatisfied with their facial appearance and this in turn was correlated with feelings of embarrassment and social inhibition (for each, r = 0.48, P less than or equal to 0.005). Subjects’ rating of acne severity, but not the dermatologist’s, was correlated with dissatisfaction with facial appearance (r = 0.45, P less than or equal to 0.005). Despite these findings, the mean Piers-Harris total t-score (55.4 +/- 7.4) was within the normal range. Fourteen subjects (36%) returned for follow-up and 71% of these were judged by both the dermatologist and themselves to have improved. Following therapy, significant reductions in the adverse consequences of acne were observed with 42% of subjects reporting that their facial appearance was more acceptable to peers, 50% being less embarrassed, and 58% feeling less socially inhibited. Minimal improvement in mean Piers-Harris total t-score was observed (54.6 to 57.4, P = 0.004, paired t-test). Our data demonstrate that acne is perceived by adolescents to have important negative personal and social consequences, and that improvement in these areas may accompany medical treatment.
Krowchuk DP, Stancin T, Keskinen R, Walker R, Bass J, Anglin TM