Welcome to Derm Day, a regular column where we talk with the best dermatologists in the acne biz about all things breakouts - the good (but wait, is there anything good?), the bad and the ugly.
Today’s installment features Dr. Kopelson who is educating us on the link between acne and mental health, and sharing advice on how we can manage it.
What’s the connection between acne and mental health?
Anxiety, depression and stress have a definite effect on the skin. In response to stress our bodies produce more androgens, which are a type of hormone. These hormones stimulate the skin’s oil glands and hair follicles and cause acne to develop. Depression especially can lead to poor self care which can exacerbate acne. A cycle can form where acne causes stress and stress worsens acne.
Severe cases of acne sometimes require prescription medications that are strong and have side effects. Some prescription drugs can cause depression, moodiness, or even possibly suicidal thoughts.
Social media can have a direct effect on mental health and acne sometimes too, right?
Photo editing apps in filters create an unattainable image of beauty. Heavily edited pictures make one believe that what they see is the norm. This drives people into anger, depression, stress, and anxiety, even though what they're seeing is anatomically impossible.
What’s your advice for someone struggling with both mental health & acne?
A therapist is a good idea for anyone suffering from mental health issues. A dermatologist should be sought if one is having cystic acne, or acne that’s leaving scars or pigmentation abnormalities.
For mental health: There are a number of ways to help a friend, relative, or colleague with mental health issues. First, it is important not to wait. Talk to someone who's going through a hard time. Remind them that not only treatment, but help and support are out there. Offer to help them seek professional help from a doctor or from another friend or family member, but know your limits and when to ask for additional help.
For acne: Good self-care is essential when you're dealing with acne.Try not to squeeze pimples or blackheads, as this can worsen inflammation and cause scarring. Gently cleanse the skin twice-daily. Avoid excessive exfoliation, as this can cause dryness or irritation. Stay away from oily or greasy products on the hair or the skin. Apply acne treatments to the entire affected area, not just to individual pimples.
Seek immediate assistance if you think a friend or family member is in danger of harming themselves. You can call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Interested in visiting Dr. Kopelson IRL? Check out https://www.kopelsonclinic.com/about/.
About The Expert:
Dr. Kopelson is a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology, specializing in cosmetic procedures and laser treatments. He is licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the states of California and New York and has been in private practice in Beverly Hills, California since 1993.