Justin W. Marson, MD

Justin W. Marson, MD

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
Brooklyn, NY
2022 AARS Research Grant Recipient

Analysis of the Lived Experience of Acne Vulgaris: A Study of Adolescents and Their Guardians

While the most severe forms of acne vulgaris, acne fulminans (with or without systemic symptoms), is rare, acne vulgaris is strongly associated with psychological burden, reducing patients’ quality of life by diminishing their sense of pride and contorting their body image and can lead to psychiatric disturbances with population and longitudinal studies demonstrating increased odds of anxiety and depression with acne vulgaris and, in severe cases, suicide. These psychiatric effects may instigate or exacerbate body dysmorphia, not only due to potentially long-term disfiguring effects of post-acne sequalae (e.g., scarring, dyspigmentation), but also due to the highly visible nature of acne given its propensity for the face and trunk. Furthermore, the vast majority of individuals afflicted with acne are adolescents and young adults who are concurrently experiencing a critical timepoint for internal and interpersonal psychosocial development. Studies have shown that adolescents with acne vulgaris are more likely to have not only interference with sports and dating, but may also have repercussions for guardian-child relationships, and even future employment.

Recent studies of lived experiences of adult female patients with acne have highlighted persistent themes of ongoing mental health disturbances materially affecting professional and social lives, difficulties and frustration accessing necessary dermatologic care, as well as hesitancy with evidenced-based treatments. The purpose of this study is to similarly define the lived-experience of modern adolescents and their guardians and their interpersonal/familial relationship as it relates to the perception, stigma, and management of acne vulgaris with the goal of highlighting methods to improve communication and minimize negative impact of acne on patients and their families.