BMJ open 2017 09 217(9) e016964 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016964
Acne vulgaris (acne) is a common adolescent skin condition. It is associated with negative psychological impacts and sufferers do not easily seek help, hence is undertreated.
We investigated the self-reported prevalence, severity and psychological sequelae of acne, together with assessing help-seeking behaviour and its barriers, in separate school and hospital samples. We explored opportunistic treatment by paediatricians.
Self-reported survey with participants drawn from: (1) 120 adolescents aged 13-18 in a London tertiary paediatric outpatient department and (2) 482 adolescents from two London schools, aged 11-18. Adolescents confidentially and anonymously completed a questionnaire (paper or online) and those with acne completed the Cardiff Acne Disability Index (CADI) questionnaire.
To explore if acne is being addressed opportunistically in outpatient appointments and the behaviours associated with seeking help and psychological implications of acne.
Acne prevalence was reported as 58.3% in the clinic and 42.3% in schools, with 34.3% and 20.6% of participants having moderate acne (MA) or severe acne (SA), respectively. The correlation between acne severity and CADI was significant (regression coefficient=4.86, p<0.005 (MA) and 9.08, p<0.005 (SA) in the hospital; 1.92, p<0.001 (MA) and 7.41, p<0.005 (SA) in schools). Severity of acne was associated with increased likelihood of seeing a doctor in both samples (OR=8.95, 2.79-28.70 (MA) in the clinic and 1.31, 1.30-2.90 (MA) and 3.89, 0.66-22.98 (SA) in the community). Barriers to help seeking included embarrassment and believing doctors were unapproachable. Doctors addressed acne opportunistically in 2.9% of the sample, although 16.7% of those with MA and SA wished their doctor had raised it. CONCLUSION
Acne is common and has negative psychological implications, correlating with severity. Young people often forego seeking help and hospital clinicians rarely address acne opportunistically. Further work is needed to investigate how to reduce barriers to help seeking for acne.