Acne affects more than 80% of adolescents and young adults, who most often develop acne scars. Supporting data on the effect of acne scars on patient’s health-related quality of life (HRQOL) are limited.
The aim was to determine how the severity of acne scars impacts the HRQOL of afflicted individuals.
In this population-based cross-sectional study, 723 adults with facial acne scars but without active acne lesions self-completed the Self-assessment of Clinical Acne-Related Scars (SCARS) questionnaire formulated to investigate degree of acne scarring. The Facial Acne Scar Quality of Life (FASQoL), Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI), and Dysmorphic Concern Questionnaire (DCQ) were completed to assess the attitude of these patients toward their scars and the impact of scarring on their HRQOL.
The mean (standard error) DLQI score for facial acne scars was 6.26 (0.22). Acne scars were considered a ‘very large’ or ‘extremely large’ concern by 19.3% of participants with mild scars as compared to 20.1% and 34.0% of participants with moderate and severe/very severe scars, respectively (P = 0.003). Higher FASQoL scores were associated with increased severity of scarring (P = 0.001). In total, 16.9% of participants had clinical features of dysmorphia (i.e., DCQ > 13). DCQ scores were significantly higher among participants with more severe scarring (mean DCQ score of 8.04 [0.28], 8.40 [0.18], and 10.13 [0.08] among participants with mild, moderate, and severe/very severe acne scars, respectively; P = 0.001). Most commonly reported signs of emotional distress were self-consciousness (68.0%) and worry about scars not going away (74.8%).
This study highlights the significant psychosocial impact of atrophic acne scars in the form of embarrassment and self-consciousness. Individuals with mild scars also expressed significant impact on quality of life that increased with aggravation of scar severity. Patient-reported outcomes provide an insight into the physical, functional, and psychological impact of acne scarring from the patient’s perspective.

© 2021. The Author(s).