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How Does Acne Affect the Adult Woman?


A study published in JAMA Dermatology investigated the strain acne puts on the lives of adult women.

A qualitative study published in JAMA Dermatology examined the question, “What is the lived experience of acne among adult women?” and aimed to find an answer.1

To gather data on this question, researchers conducted a qualitative analysis from free listing and open-ended, semi structured interviews of patients at the public health care system of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the private practice of the Dermatologists of Southwest Ohio. In total, 50 women ages 18 to 40 years with moderate to severe acne participated in interviews from August 30, 2019, through December 31, 2020.

The free listing data from the interviews were used to calculate the Smith S, the measure of importance for each item on the list and the interviews were also examined to derive themes about patient perspectives about their acne and their treatments.

The patients, who had a mean age of 28 years and 48% of the 50 patients were White, described how their acne caused them to have concerns about their appearance and in return affected their social, professional, and personal lives because many changed their behavior regarding these areas. 

Commonly reported issues included depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Patients defined successful acne treatment as having completely clear skin over time of a manageable number of blemishes. Many patients reported having frustration with finding a dermatologist that they were comfortable with and also identified effective acne treatments. 

These results suggests that women with acne have concerns about appearance, experience mental and emotional health consequences, and disruption of their personal and professional lives, according to the authors. There are also challenges for many patients to attain adequate care and treatment for their conditions. 

The authors concluded that future trials are needed to understand the best treatment approaches for women with acne and are needed to improve outcomes in their position.


1, Barbieri JS, Fulton R, Neergaard R, Nelson MN, Barg FK, Margolis DJ. Patient perspectives on the lived experience of acne and its treatment among adult women with acne: a qualitative study. JAMA Dermatology. Published online July 28, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2021.2185

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