Teens with severe acne are more likely to suffer suicidal thoughts compared with their clear-skinned peers, and scientists behind a new study think the link has less to do with prescription acne medications -- which have long been associated with suicide risk -- and more to do with the embarrassing pimples themselves.
Acne-addled girls were twice as likely to contemplate suicide, and boys with acne faced triple the risk, according to a Norwegian survey of 3,775 teens, aged 18 and 19. Unlike previous studies on teen acne, this one polled participants in the general population rather than exclusively teens under a doctor's care for skin problems.
The study's results suggest that skin problems -- rather than their treatment -- are at the root of suicide risk. Concerns have persisted over a link between pharmaceuticals, like Acutane, and mental health problems.
Nearly one in five teenagers will suffer from serious acne at some point during adolescence, making the study's results even more troubling.
Teens with acne also reported more difficulty at school, fewer close friendships and fewer romantic relationships. That kind of social stress no doubt exacerbates the depression and anxiety found by researchers.
"There are hidden consequences to acne -- particularly severe acne," Dr. Jerry Tan, a Canadian dermatologist, told CNN, adding that acne often strikes at "a critical point in human development."