Survey: Most Canadian acne patients have scarring

First ever survey of Canadian acne patients shows most have scarring and pigmentation changes

Almost all Canadian acne patients surveyed for a recent report said they have scarring (87%) and pigmentation changes (90%) due to their acne – significant, lasting and detrimental reminders of the skin condition.

The findings were published today in “Breaking Out: A report on the acne patient experience in Canada”, conducted by the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada (ARSC) and the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (CSPA). The full report is available here.

“This very high rate of acne scarring and hyperpigmentation – brown or red stains left after acne – among acne patients indicates a need for early, effective treatment to prevent these issues from developing,” Dr. Jerry Tan, Windsor, Ontario dermatologist and president of ARSC commented.

“Generally, the more intense the inflammation – redness, swelling, pus, pain – the greater the injury to the skin and risk for scarring. However, even people with mild acne reported scarring and pigmentation changes in the survey. Don’t delay getting treatment. Given that acne primarily affects teenagers, parents may have a role to play,” Dr. Tan added.

Other survey findings show most acne patients struggle to control the condition with the most common challenges being hiding acne, trying to identify triggers and out of pocket expenses.

Alberta acne patient Brittany Kuzemka (30), who experienced acne as a teen and still struggled with it as an adult, says the condition has affected her everyday life in various ways.

“I was willing to do and spend almost anything to achieve my goal of clear skin; this came with a hefty price tag. Acne has affected me negatively with not wanting to participate in certain social activities, due to being afraid of the judgement of my peers.”

“I would also obsess over my skin where I hyper focused on the imperfections and asked my family or friends if they could see my blemishes after applying makeup. I was under the impression that my acne looked worse to others, but that was my own insecurities and the effects it caused on my self-esteem,” she said.

The survey also revealed the emotional toll of having acne. Half of the respondents are often or always concerned their skin will never clear up while 44% often or always feel self-conscious due to their acne and one-quarter avoid social interactions.

“Acne is more than skin deep. This is a condition that impacts people’s emotional, social and mental health, going far beyond a cosmetic concern,” said Rachael Manion, executive director of the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance. “We must encourage people living with acne to talk to their doctor about how best to treat it and together, we must make sure that safe and effective treatments are available and affordable for everyone who needs them,” she added.

The report recommends increasing access to new treatments for acne patients in Canada, ensuring healthcare providers are aware of all new and existing treatments and evaluating every acne patient for depression and anxiety.

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