Acne and your Psychological Well-being

by Dr Wan Chee Kwang
May 23, 2023

Acne can be painful to live with. Your complexion is ruined by inflamed red bumps that take weeks to heal and scars that take months to fade. 

In severe cases, you may experience new breakouts even before the last ones have cleared. It may feel like you’re in a never-ending cycle of bad skin.

It is no surprise then that up to 40% of acne sufferers also experience anxiety and depression. Acne is clearly more than skin deep. Let's explore just how acne can impact your psychological well-being and the available treatments in Singapore, like acne scar removal.

What is acne

Acne is a common skin condition where the pores in your skin become clogged. Each pore contains a hair follicle and a sebaceous gland that produces sebum. Bacterial buildup, through the accumulation of sebum and dead skin cells, forms a plug that may grow into blackheads, whiteheads, or large, inflamed acne.

When the wall of your clogged pore breaks down, germs, dead skin cells and sebum spread into the surrounding skin. That is when you experience more redness, swelling and pain. Acne also damages the top layers of your skin, leaving a scar behind as it heals. 

Aggravating factors in the development of scars include picking at skin around the pimple and leaving acne untreated. Acne can affect men and women of all ages. The scarring it often leaves behind can be permanent or take a long time to fade away.  Acne scars come in various forms, such as: 

  1. Rolling scars
  2. Ice pick scars
  3. Boxcar scars
  4. Papular scars
  5. Post inflammatory erythema
  6. Hypertrophic and keloid scars

What research shows about acne and mental health

Acne can have a significant impact on your quality of life and you may feel inferior, ashamed and embarrassed because of it. Research has shown a strong association between acne and mental health. 

A cohort study by the British Journal of Dermatology found that individuals with acne were more likely to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress compared to those without the condition. The study was conducted on a database, identifying 134,437 patients with acne and 1,731,608 patients without acne.

Acne can exert an emotional toll, as you become withdrawn and isolated. Furthermore, the physical pain and discomfort associated with acne, such as itching and burning, can lead to anger and frustration, worsening your mental state.

Acne dysmorphic disorder

Having acne can also cause you to be consumed by thoughts about how bad your acne is. This is a symptom of a mental health condition known as acne dysmorphic disorder or acne dysmorphia.

Acne dysmorphic disorder is a type of body dysmorphia that is characterised by a fixation on your perceived imperfections and appearance due to acne, to the point where it impairs your daily functioning. Some of its symptoms include:

  1. A strong belief that your imperfections make you ugly
  2. Repeatedly checking the mirror
  3. Always comparing your appearance to others
  4. Constantly wanting to hide your imperfections
  5. Believing that others perceive you negatively due to the appearance of your skin

Patients suffering from acne dysmorphia are usually distant and do not share their distress about acne easily with others. 

Signs acne and its scars are affecting your quality of life

If you experience any of these, it may be a sign that acne and its scars are affecting your quality of life.

  1. Excessive worry and preoccupation

You find yourself constantly thinking about your acne and its appearance, to the point where it affects your daily activities and routines.

  1. Low self-esteem and shame

Feeling shame, embarrassment and low self-esteem, particularly when it comes to relationships. These feelings interfere with the bonds you form between family members, friends and significant others.

  1. Avoidance of social situations

You avoid social situations or activities that you once enjoyed because of fear of being judged for the appearance of your skin.

Treatment options

We hope everything we have shared so far shows the importance of recognising the impact acne and its scars can have on your mental health. This will allow you to take the steps you need to treat acne and improve the appearance of your scars.

While we are not trained to provide psychological or psychiatric help, we know how important it is to listen to our clients to understand their aesthetic and health goals before providing treatment

At 1Aesthetics, we help our clients regain their confidence by offering evidence-based solutions to various skin conditions. Our treatments can aid you in controlling your acne and controlling your acne and removing acne scars.

Some of our acne scar removal treatments include:

  1. Fractional laser

Fractional laser is used to produce thousands of pixelated patterns of microscopic laser wounds in the skin. This process stimulates the natural production of collagen and healthy skin cells, leading to the gradual improvement of skin texture and tone. There are two types of fractional laser therapy.

  • Ablative

Ablative fractional laser uses high-energy light to remove the outer layers of skin and stimulate collagen production in the inner layers.

  • Non-ablative

Non-ablative fractional laser uses heat to spark collagen production in the inner layers of skin.

  1. Fractional microneedle radiofrequency

Fractional microneedle radio frequency combines the benefits of both microneedling and radiofrequency energy to rejuvenate the skin from the inside out. This method precisely delivers radiofrequency radiation deep into the skin without damaging the top layer of the skin, resulting in safe and fast recovery.

Acne and scarring are complex, with inflammation responses varying among individuals. That’s why, at 1Aesthetics, we feel it’s important to combine treatments, where necessary, for the best results. 

To ensure that the scar removal is effective, we also prescribe medications and advice, based on your individual health needs and lifestyle. 

Feel better about your skin with acne scar removal

It is hard enough to deal with acne, but it can be worse when you also have to confront the scars they leave behind. They can be blemishes not only on your skin but your mind.

That’s why at 1Aesthetics we prioritise giving the right treatment to each person. Your skin type, acne type and depth of scar will be analysed before we proceed with any scar removal procedure. 

Contact us today for a consultation.


  1. Molla A, Al Rizqi H, Al Harbi E. (2021). Assessment of anxiety and depression in patients with acne. Dove Press.
  1. I.A. Vallerand, R.T. Lewinson, L.M. Parsons. (2018). Risk of depression among patients with acne. British Journal of Dermatology.
  1. Aleksandra Kobusiewicz, Lucia Tomas-Aragones, Servando E. Marron. (2022). Body dysmorphic disorder in patients with acne. PubMed Central.

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