Acne is a common skin condition that affects 95% of people in England at some point in their lives. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and are caused when tiny holes in the skin called hair follicles become blocked.
While most people suffer from acne in their teens and early twenties, about 3% of the population has acne after the age of 35. The disease is also linked to genetics and can be familial.
Although the type and severity of acne can vary, evidence suggests that any form of acne can cause psychological distress in a person. In some cases, this can be part of or contributing to a mental health disorder.
The new guideline is the first from NICE to treat acne vulgaris and offers recommendations on pharmacological and photodynamic therapies, which will help the majority of people with the disease.
The recommendations also stress the importance of supporting the mental health of people who experience significant psychological distress as a result. The guideline advises clinicians to consider referral to mental health services, where appropriate, particularly for people with a current or past history of depression or severe anxiety, bodily dysmorphic disorders, ideas suicide and self-harm.
Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the Center for Guidelines at NICE, said: “Acne affects most of us at some point in our lives, and while it is usually limited to a few facial spots during our teenage years, for some people it is more serious and can have an impact. on their self-esteem and mental health. Not all people with acne will experience high levels of psychological distress, but it is important that we find ways to support those who have it.
“With this new guideline, we hope that people whose acne affects their daily lives are offered the support they need to treat the disease, both physically and mentally.”
Professor Nick Levell, Chairman of the Therapy and Guidelines Subcommittee of the British Association of Dermatologists: “It’s great that NICE has chosen to work with the British Association of Dermatologists who have co-branded these evidence-based guidelines to help people with acne.
“We all hope this will improve care for adults and children, help reduce antibiotic resistance, highlight areas where more research is needed, and provide guidance to all those caring for people with this distressing condition. “
Access the full guide here.