Teenage Acne – The Hidden Shadow of Mental Health

How we think and feel about our bodies

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 will take place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019.

The theme for 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies.

The relationship between teenage acne and mental health issues, such as depression, has been the subject of extensive research and more recently, media coverage. Additionally new, promising, novel treatments have been developed to help alleviate the condition.

What is happening to the skin on the outside can have a profound effect on mental health

“The impact of acne may appear minimal to an observer but may be significant to the young person involved. There may be psychological effects as well. Adolescence is a time of low self-esteem, high peer pressure, rebellion against authority, and struggles to establish independence. The young person who has concerns about appearance will frequently choose to miss school, work, or social events, thus increasing feelings of depression and isolation. “
Iris Woodard, BSN, ANP Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing e Journal.

Acne vulgaris appears in teens and pre-teens just before or during puberty. This is the time in their life when they are most sensitive to any changes or modification to their body or appearance. A time when they are undergoing the maximum amount of social and physiological change and are most psychologically vulnerable. 30-50% of teens experience serious psychological difficulties that are a result of acne. Some of these difficulties include a feeling of isolation, managing emotions regarding their social interactions, body image and even sexuality in relation to the acne. For the teenager’s experiencing these psychological difficulties it is important to share these feelings with someone they trust and if possible peer to peer. This “Sharing” can be the first step to recovery

PEER HELP – Social Media

Social Media has played significant role in taking these isolated teenagers into a world where they connect with their peers ,who have the same anxiety issues over their acne, resulting in depression and isolation. Support groups now exist, with, for instance Instagram# teenageacne

What is the cause of acne ?

Acne is caused when tiny holes in the skin, known as hair follicles, become blocked.

Sebaceous glands are tiny glands found near the surface of the skin. The glands are attached to hair follicles, which are small holes in the skin that an individual hair grows out of.

Sebaceous glands lubricate the hair and the skin to stop it drying out. They do this by producing an oily substance called sebum.
In acne, the glands begin to produce too much sebum. The excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells and both substances form a plug in the follicle.

If the plugged follicle is close to the surface of the skin, it bulges outwards, creating a whitehead. Alternatively, the plugged follicle can be open to the skin, creating a blackhead.

Normally harmless bacteria that live on the skin can then contaminate and infect the plugged follicles, causing papules, pustules, nodules or cysts.

Can Light Therapy Help ?

Depression doesn’t have a single definitive cause and we are not claiming that teenage acne is the leading cause of depression but it is a contributing factor to low self-esteem and negative body image, which can increases the risk of depression.

So, if there’s something we can do to help teens have higher self-esteem and to promote a positive self-image, we plan to do it!


“I think interest in light therapy is definitely increasing,” says Michael Hamblin, PhD, an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. “Instead of trekking to the doctor’s office to have light shined on them, consumers can now shine light on themselves at home. The light is basically the same, there are few safety issues, and it is a fraction of the cost.. And thanks to the recent availability of low-cost, heat-free (and thus safer) light-emitting diodes (LEDs), there are more do-it-yourself gadgets for treating acne, depression, and pain online.”

At Home Blue light therapy – a noninvasive Acne treatment

Blue light is used to kill certain bacteria on the skin.

Q: How does blue light technology work?
A: Blue light kills the acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes, or P acnes, which can cause inflammation. P acnes is sensitive to blue light. Using the blue light, eliminates the bacteria found in the oil glands in the skin. The added presence of infrared light (heat) in the home device causes the oil glands to shrink in size. The result is less oil in the skin and less bacteria, leading to the resolution of acne in the treated areas.

Q: Why is it effective?
A: Eliminating the bacteria from the skin with help from blue light decreases the inflammation associated with red pimples (papules) seen in acne. After a number of treatments, the blemishes disappear and skin regains its normal appearance.

Q: What are the benefits of at-home blue light treatments?
A: Home devices can be used at the convenience of the user, any time of the day or night and lead to significant skin improvements. The incredible advancements in at-home tools (LED Light Therapy Devices) allows for consumers to achieve efficacy on their own schedule.

Q: What results can be expected using blue light therapy?
A: Users of LED Blue Light Therapy have experienced a significant decrease in the number of acne lesions, both pimples and cysts, with a home device. Not only have they achieved better skin, there also has been a significant improvement in their self-confidence. Because most sufferers are young, the success of the treatment and reduction of their acne also helped their social life and interactions with others, both in a personal and a professional setting.

Q:What are the advantages of blue light therapy for acne ?
 Blue light therapy offers benefits over alternative acne treatments, as it is considered:

  • safe and gentle
  • painless
  • drug-free
  • appropriate for all areas of the body
  • suitable for use with most other acne therapies

Unlike photodynamic therapy, there is no requirement to avoid the sun following treatment. Blue light therapy does not cause any scarring.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology light therapies “show great promise in treating acne,” with many people experiencing a significant improvement in their skin health after a number of sessions.

Blue light therapy can be used to treat acne that is already present on the skin or to control the condition before an outbreak occurs.

Q:Why are “At Home” LED Light Therapy devices creating so much interest from consumers ?
A: Until quite recently, LED therapy was something that you could only really get at a dermatologist’s or esthetician’s clinic, but as LEDs have become easier to produce this has allowed the development of reasonably priced units for home use
Phototherapy or  light therapy, is used in different ways throughout skin care. Red LED frequency has been shown to stimulate collagen, while blue has been shown to kill acne-causing bacteria

More and more people are looking for natural treatments for acne and light therapy devices are a great addition .
In recent years, a growing number of blue light products have become available to treat acne at home.

Self-applied blue light treatment has been reported to be easy and safe to use.


LED Light Therapy is the only aesthetic device that has no known contra-indications of any kind. It is good for all skin types, colours and conditions.

It is safe, painless, relaxing and non invasive.

Largely ignored by drug companies, up to this point, is that cells have an immense capability to heal themselves. With LED Light Therapy devices, you can kick start the body to regenerate and revitalize its cells which then allows them to renew themselves.

This is energy based medicine versus pharmaceutical-based medicine with it many issues of toxicity and cost.