Guest Author - Linda Steele
There is no single disease which causes more psychological trauma, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority than does acne, especially for teenagers. Adolescence is probably the most emotionally sensitive time of a person’s life. So many physical, emotional and social changes are taking place. Almost 75% of teenagers suffer from acne. At this age, acne can have a profound negative impact on confidence and esteem.
While known for quite some time, the psychosocial effects of acne have not been fully appreciated until recently. The reasons for this are many. After all, everyone gets acne to one degree or another. In most cases, it goes away on its own. While it's running its course, it is not a serious threat to anyone's overall physical health. In addition, until the last couple of decades, there was very little anyone could do to treat it.
Acne, nonetheless, has a significant impact on a teenager's outlook on life. Scientific studies conducted by researchers have detected that teens suffering from acne often demonstrate:
• Poor body image
• Feelings of failure
• Low Self confidence and esteem issues.
• Problems with dating or meet new people
These are triggered by the harmful effect acne has on looks and the resulting hesitation of negative reactions from others. Teens suffering from acne can end up living ongoing lives and fail in social interaction, jobs or at school.
So what causes acne?
Hormones are one of the most common causes of acne. Androgen, a sex hormone which is very active during puberty, stimulates the secretion of sebum or the skin’s natural oil. When the sebum mixes with bacteria, it induces the clogging of the follicle, trapping the oil and bacteria inside. This results in the swelling of the affected area of the skin which eventually leads to acne.
Stress, although not the primary cause, may cause acne. During stressful periods, we release cortisol which stimulates the production of sebum. I know that even as an adult, when I have been under extreme stress, I will have a fresh batch of acne pop up.
Although, not proven by scientific studies, some people testified that certain foods cause acne such as: chocolates, greasy fast food and sodas.
There are other causes of acne such as: wearing heavy make-up which can clog the pores; scrubbing your face with abrasive cleansers; and squeezing or picking. Acne can be also genetic.
So how does Acne Affect Self Confidence?
Low self esteem or lack of self confidence is often a problem with acne sufferers, especially those whose acne first appeared during their teen years. At this delicate juncture of our lives when we are defining a clearer sense of our own identity, we are most influenced by our peers. Our friends, or for that matter our enemies, opinions and thoughts tend to matter more.
Our society places a great emphasis on ideals of physical perfection. This ideal demonstrates not only a slim figure, but perfect skin. It is only natural that this is reflected, even if subconsciously, in the way we think about ourselves, and the way we believe others measure us.
Having acne, particularly moderate to severe cases, can have an effect on our confidence, and self belief. We can become so preoccupied with our own acne, imperfections, or shortcomings compared to what we perceive as ideal, that we come to judge ourselves as not worthy. When we encounter new situations or meet new people, especially of the opposite sex, we may hold ourselves back. Our body language and other mannerisms will reflect this lack of self belief. Others will pick up on these non-verbal cues, and subconsciously react to it often not giving us 'the time of day' creating feelings of unworthiness. A vicious cycle ensues as we get the impression of being right all along.
What can be done to maintain the self esteem levels or regain the self confidence?
Get yourself treated. Dermatologists are treating acne as the disease that it is and are able to help with various treatment plans. Next, go get a series of acne facials. An esthetician can help you with a cleansing program and using the proper products for your skin type. I know this was a major problem for me. My mom has very dry skin and I had just the opposite -- extremely oily. So when she would buy facial products for me, it would only make my acne worse. Skin is not created equal.
Change your thoughts on how you view yourself. Often, our thoughts and beliefs run on auto pilot. Something happens, we react. Notice what comments or situations, cause you to react. Over time, a pattern will emerge. Once you are more aware of your triggers, you can take action to change. Instead of letting the negative self-talk continue, say to yourself, 'Okay, this may not actually be true, no matter what my emotions are telling me right now.'
Look for things that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as spending time with your beloved animal or listening to your favorite songs on your iPod. The more we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, the more we can free ourselves from the gremlins that create havoc in our lives. We must learn to see beyond our skin which as we know changes as we get older, to our talents and other good qualities. When we do this, we will no longer define ourselves by what we feel is a limitation, or fault, but something that is temporary.