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Body Dysmorphia and Acne: The Shocking Truth

May 16, 2018

Body Dysmorphia
by Samantha 

Body dysmorphiaisn't just a trending buzzword - it's a potentially debilitating anxiety disorder that affects roughly 5 out of every 1,000 people.


However, most people aren't aware that a subset ofbody dysmorphia,acne dysmorphia, is equally as devastating to the people who have it.


what are body dysmorphia and acne dysmorphia?


Body dysmorphia is a disorder that results in someone having a distorted view of how they look, leading to excessive worry about their appearance. Acne dysmorphia is a type ofbody dysmorphia in which aperson believes that their acne is much worse than it really is.Both conditions ultimately lead to (and can even stem from) anxiety.


Although we all go through periods where we may be unhappy with aspects of our appearance, this disordered way of thinking becomes constant and overwhelming.Someone withbody dysmorphiaor acne dysmorphia may be ruminating on a problem that doesn'texist.


Acne dysmorphia can occur in people:

  • little or no acne
  • mild/moderate acne
  • a previous history of acne
  • acne scarring


Whether you have acne or not, the psychological impacts don't necessarily clear up when your skin does.


Although genetics, life experience (teasing, social expectations), brain abnormalities and cultural experiences are potential causes ofbody dysmorphiaand acne dysmorphia, we still don't fully understand the disorder or why people get it.


However, many people with acne experience low self-esteem and negative treatment by othersbecause of their acne, so it should come as no surprise that this can result in internalization and distortions of these perspectives.



symptoms of acne dysmorphia


Whilebody dysmorphiaand acne dysmorphia will look a little different foreveryone, acne dysmorphia can take the form of:


  • a few small pimples exaggerated as a full-scale breakout
  • frequent and prolonged periods spent analyzing in front of the mirror
  • mirror avoidance
  • constant worry about your skin
  • going to extreme lengths to cover perceived skin imperfections
  • excessive use of makeup
  • refusing to go without makeup
  • avoiding social settings (including work and school) due to perceived skin imperfections
  • constant comparison to others
  • an awareness that others don't see your skin as bad as you do
  • the knowledge that your skin isn't bad, but an inability to change your own mind and habits
  • a constant fear that your acne will resurface (also known as phantom acne)




why are body dysmorphia and acne dysmorphia serious?


It's easy to write off excessive worry about one's appearance as vain and trivial, but that doesn't negate the very real and potentially serious effects. Constantly worrying about our skin, especially catastrophizing and exaggerating, can greatly affect our day-to-day lives.


Body dysmorphiaand acne dysmorphia are mental health disorders, and can even lead to depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. They canalsolead to other anxious behaviors and isolation from social situations.


what can you do?


Thankfully, as with many mental health disorders, bothbody dysmorphiaand acne dysmorphia are effectively treatable by identifying, challenging and changing our distorted thought patterns.


If you suspect that you suffer frombody dysmorphia,you should seek guidance from a qualified professional forcognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication.


You may also find these blog posts useful in gaining some insight:


The Secret to Being Truly Acne Free


9 Things I Wish I Knew When I Had Bad Acne


Sometimes just talking with someone about your acne can help you challenge your negative and distorted thoughts. You don't have to feel alone - reach out for help.



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