Survey: Parents Extremely Worried About the Physical and Emotional Toll that Severe Acne Takes on Teens

April 7, 2021
Survey Parents Extremely Worried About the Physical and Emotional Toll that Severe Acne Takes on Teens image

Fully 93 percent of respondents worry that severe acne will leave their children's faces scarred, and nearly as many shared concern about the impact on their child's social life and mental health.

Parents are very worried about the effects of severe acne on their teens, according to a new survey sponsored by Sun Pharma, in collaboration with the American Acne and Rosacea Society (AARS).

The survey, which polled 250 parents of teenagers with severe nodular or cystic acne, showed that the vast majority of respondents – at least 9 in 10 - are worried about their child's physical, emotional, and social wellness, as well as how these factors affect family dynamics.

Fully 93 percent of respondents worry that severe acne will leave their children's faces scarred, and nearly as many (88%) shared concern about the impact on their child's social life and mental health. Fifty percent of parents also said they are worried about how their child's plight might impact the rest of the family, and 70 percent worry about their child's siblings getting severe acne. Although almost all respondents indicated they had taken their child to a dermatologist, or were planning to do so, more than half believed they should have seen a doctor sooner, and 70 percent said they sometimes feel guilty for not seeking earlier help. The survey was conducted online from October 29 through November 5, 2020 by Regina Corso Consulting.

"These survey results underscore the importance of teenagers with nodular or cystic acne seeing a dermatologist and starting effective treatment as soon as possible, to avoid the possibility of lifelong physical scars and emotional distress," says Hilary Baldwin, MD, medical director of the Acne Treatment and Research Center in Brooklyn, NY, and past president of the AARS, in a news release. "As a board-certified dermatologist, and as a parent of two children who have dealt with severe acne, I can honestly say parents cannot fully understand what their teenagers are going through. Timely intervention can help the child who is suffering from this condition, as well as minimize potential negative impact on their whole family," adds Dr. Baldwin, who is also a clinical associate professor of Dermatology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center.

The survey findings also show how the COVID-19 pandemic has had a mixed effect on the lives of teenagers and families affected by severe acne. On the one hand, three-quarters (67%) of parents agreed that the cessation of in-school learning has been great for their child, as that has helped them avoid the embarrassment that can result from interacting with peers in person. On the other hand, 53 percent of parents said online instruction was worse for their child because of the way remote learning platforms heighten the focus on participants' faces. Whereas one-third (32%) of parents said their child has been bullied in person because of their severe acne, almost one in five said their child has been cyber-bullied.

"These survey results also mean that the severity of a child's acne is not just based on a clinicians' assessment but of the patients own perception as well," says AARS President and Louisville KY-based dermatologist J. Mark Jackson, MD, FAAD. "Early appropriate intervention by dermatologists can prevent long-term sequalae. We are grateful to Sun Pharma for their commitment to patients and for supporting this survey highlighting the importance of taking this condition seriously." 

"Parents of teens with severe acne are encouraged  to be especially vigilant about maintaining their child's social and emotional health, especially now that the pandemic may have vastly limited in-person doctor visits and made telemedicine more common," notes Stacey Moore, AARS executive director. "This places a significant burden on parents and other family members, as doctors can't see what's going on behind the scenes, whether on screen or in their offices."

"We are grateful to be able to provide important insights to help people dealing with severe acne understand the impact of the condition on parents, teenagers, and families," adds Andy Nelson, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Sun Pharma." We thank the AARS and Dr. Baldwin for helping to inform on topics that would provide meaningful outputs and to the 250 parents from across the U.S. who participated in the survey."

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