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The psychological and emotional impact of acne and the effect of treatment with isotretinoin.

Although knowledge concerning the dermatological treatment of chronic acne has grown considerably in recent years, relatively few studies have assessed the impact of effective physical intervention upon the psychoemotional functioning of patients. Hypotheses regarding the psychological impact of acne were developed using concepts drawn from evolutionary psychology. A sample of 34 patients (19 men and 15 women) with chronic acne were assessed for psychological, emotional and dermatological symptomatology using a variety of self-report questionnaires over four time-points during 16 weeks treatment with isotretinoin. Thirty-four patients completed the first assessment, 21 the second, 20 the third and 15 the fourth and final assessment. At the first assessment, prior to isotretinoin treatment, 15 patients (44%) reported clinically significant levels of anxiety, while six patients (18%) reported clinically significant depression. Women with acne were significantly more embarrassed than their male counterparts about their skin disease. Treatment with isotretinoin produced significant improvements across a wide variety of psychological functions, although the emotional status of patients appeared to be more resistant to change. Acne appears to be a condition which has the potential to damage, perhaps even in the long term, the emotional functioning of some patients.

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