Problems with Acne Can Be More Than Skin Deep

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Swearingen

Nursed to Health is an occasional feature in which Jacksonville University School of Nursing faculty discuss symptoms, diagnoses and treatments based on composites of patient cases handled by instructors, students and alumni of JU's local training programs. Today's column is by Laura Swearingen, graduate of JU's Family Nurse Practitioner Program, a JU adjunct faculty member for its RN-BSN program and a nurse practitioner for the Dermatology and Laser Center in Orange Park.

There is more to acne than just a pimple or "zit."

Acne can have life-altering psychosocial effects, especially for your adolescent. These may not only influence a youth now but also could have impact in the long term, when it comes to body image and social skills development.

After working in dermatology for more than 10 years, I found this was true of some of our acne patients. With more than 1,000 visits a year in our office just for acne cases alone, I knew I needed to make sure I brought this information to the forefront, not only in the medical community but also to parents.

While not every patient affected with acne has psychosocial effects, there is still a need to screen for it and make sure treatments are effective.

In 2010, I conducted research asking family practice, pediatric and dermatology professionals what they did when assessing acne in adolescents. Most spent the time during a visit assessing the physical aspects of the acne; only rarely did they assess the psychosocial effects, such as depression, social anxiety and body image disturbances.

Additionally, more than 90 percent of the medical providers surveyed found it important to discuss the physical effects such as scarring, but fewer than half found it important to discuss the psychological effects.

Having uncontrolled acne is detrimental to some teens when body image, self-esteem and social development become central to their development physically and socially. Many studies have found that patients with "bad" acne have even contemplated suicide.

It's apparent that everyone needs to be more diligent in promptly seeking care for those who suffer with uncontrolled acne.

Some of the symptoms to watch for in your adolescent are withdrawal from social and peer activities or events; diminished eye contact when communicating; and constant negative comments about body image. …