Background The reported prevalence of acne in adolescence is variable; improved treatment may have modified its prevalence and severity; acne has been related to psychiatric morbidity for many years.
Methods Two thousand six hundred and fifty-seven high school students were examined, and adolescents with acne were interviewed about the subject of acne vulgaris. The severity of acne was graded using the Global Acne Grading System (GAGS). The Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale was evaluated for one of every two subjects with acne (n = 308) and for the same number of sex-matched control subjects (n = 308) to determine the prevalence of depression and anxiety.
Results Six hundred and fifteen of the subjects (23.1%) were determined to have acne. Acne prevalence in girls and boys was 16.1% and 29.2%, respectively (P < 0.001). Two hundred and twenty-five (15.8%) of 1424 boys and only 109 (8.8%) of 1233 girls had moderate or severe/very severe acne (P < 0.001), but the GAGS scores in the groups of boys and girls with acne were not significantly different. The acne and control groups showed no significant differences in the HAD anxiety and depression subscale scores. The HAD anxiety subscale scores of girls were significantly higher than those of boys in the acne group. The severity of acne was not correlated with the HAD anxiety or depression subscale scores.
Conclusions Acne results in higher anxiety in adolescent girls. Although acne and moderate/severe acne are more common in adolescent boys, the severity of acne was found to be similar in boys and girls with acne. Adolescent girls are more vulnerable than boys to the negative psychological effects of acne.