The other week I read in a major newspaper that we, as patients, are wasting billions of pounds on the NHS because we see our GPs with only ‘minor’ ailments. One of these ailments the article quoted was acne. As a dermatologist, I was shocked and outraged. Just because acne is so common – not only among teenagers but increasingly in women in their 30s and 40s, too – that doesn’t mean it should be accepted as inevitable. Acne is a distressing condition that can result in permanent scarring.
Can anyone give me another example of an often disfiguring disease affecting the face that would be tolerated without trying everything under the sun to resolve it? Frankly, I can’t think of one. So why is it that in the UK, acne is often accepted with stoical patience by so many patients who believe they must endure it without complaining? When I have mentioned their child’s truly dreadful outbreak, I’ve even heard a parent refer to it as ‘only acne.’
How tragically wrong that parent’s attitude was. In a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, Professor Gupta, MD and professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, found that even non-severe acne can cause profound emotional problems such as depression and even suicidal thoughts. Acne has also a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life.
I would always strongly encourage anybody suffering with breakouts to see a dermatologist to get started on treatment – before scaring occurs! There are now highly effective treatments available, one of which can even switch acne off for good in the majority of patients. Above all, please never feel you’re a time-waster. The only possible waste is the time you’ve spent feeling distressed.