“As a teenager, all my friends used to tell me that I have perfect skin, but when I turned 24 my acne started appearing… In the beginning there was just one red thing here and there, and gradually it became worse – it was so bad for my mental health” says Maria, a 29 years old young professional who was previously diagnosed with cystic acne.
Acne is a common skin disorder, affecting the majority of adolescents. But when it appears in your twenties it can impact self-confidence, add up substantial barriers to social relationships, or even affect people’s career progression in a lot of ways.
The lack of confidence, or the fear of being perceived as younger than you are, represent real struggles when you are just starting your career. Maria remembers that:
“To go to a job interview, or to work would be so uncomfortable- you’d feel like a teenager dealing with acne […] you’d feel that everyone looks at your acne, that everyone talks about it and pities you. It wasn’t nice.”
In these situations, support from family and friends comes in handy when dealing with acne, even as an adult. Opening up and discussing how the skin condition affects daily life can have a positive influence on people’s emotional wellbeing. Maria acknowledges that:
“… friends and family were very supportive – always minimizing how big this problem was, but I didn’t feel O.K with myself, uncomfortable and covered up a lot. I like to go out – but I always had this feeling, that I had to put on a lot of makeup.”
Often, covering up or deferring the attention from the face are among strategies that help dealing with acne when it comes to being social. Nevertheless, when being social or pursuing a romantic interest, this condition of the skin can trigger feelings of self-consciousness or embarrassment because of the spots or the scarring . The social withdrawal, together with the misconceptions about acne can affect, or reduce the chances of starting a romantic relationship with someone new.
When asked about her romantic life, Maria told us:
“My dermatologist diagnosed me with cystic acne. And I think it is the worst, because it hurts. You have these huge things on your face, under your skin that apart from not looking nice they hurt a lot too. I wouldn’t let anybody touch my face. I don’t think it is possible to date somebody new in that period. You don’t have that self-confidence…”
Learning about acne, and acknowledging its impacts on the emotional and social life of young adults can help improving the interpersonal relationships with the persons involved . Asking for support from a healthcare professional for handling acne has the potential of easing up the psychological and emotional effects of this skin condition.
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