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Coping with acne: beliefs and perceptions in a sample of secondary school Greek pupils


*Corresponding author, Dermatology, University of Athens, ‘Andreas Syngros Hospital’, 5 Ionos Dragoumi str., 16121, Athens Greece, tel. +210 7265194; fax +210 7211122; E-mail:


Background  Information on the understanding of acne in adolescents has only occasionally been reported in the medical literature.

Objective  To evaluate the perceptions of Greek high school students regarding acne causation, exacerbating factors, sources of information, and effect on their daily life and school performance.

Patients and methods  Three-hundred and forty-seven students (aged 13–18) of four Athenian high schools completed a self-reported questionnaire.

Results  Self-reported acne was present in 59.2% (187/316). Popular sources of information were parents (31.6%), dermatologists (26.7%), magazines and television (17.5%), pharmacists (16.2%), friends (5.3%), beauticians (1.6%) and other doctors (1.1%). Fifty-two per cent considered the information received as inadequate. Reported causal or exacerbating acne factors included: diet (62.3%), hormones (55.1%), poor hygiene (42.4%), stress (31.9%), infection (14.9%) and genetics (5.7%). Reported ameliorating factors included frequent washing (80.7%), sunbathing (38.6%) and adequate hours of sleep (32%). These notions did not differ among pupils with and without acne or among pupils receiving information from different sources (P < 0.05 in all comparisons). Smoking habits, school performance, hours of sleep, sleep disturbances and self-assessment of stress status were not statistically significantly different between pupils with and without acne. Among pupils with acne 48.6% believed that acne was compromising interpersonal relations while 64.4% believed that acne was compromising their self-image. Fifteen per cent of adolescents reported pruritus associated with their acne lesions.

Conclusion  Beliefs of Greek adolescents about acne were shown to be similar to those of pupils in other developed countries.