Nearly everyone would have had some experience of acne throughout their lives, especially during puberty and in our early 20s. However, around 3% of the population will experience persistent acne that can endure past the age of 35. The condition is linked to genetics and diet.

The type and severity of acne can vary, though evidence suggests that any form of acne can cause psychological distress, and in some cases, even contribute to a mental health disorder.

‘Changing how you feel about your skin’

Psychological distress can manifest itself as dermatological symptoms, and skin issues can, in turn, trigger a mental health condition. That is why the British Association of Dermatologists has previously launched a website dedicated to ‘psychodermatology' – the treatment of skin disease using psychological therapies and techniques, such as mindfulness and habit reversal.

In the first of its kind guidelines on acne, NICE has recommended that medical professionals refer people with acne vulgaris for mental health support if they are distressed, especially for those with a current or past history of depression, anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, suicidal ideation, and self-harm.

NICE's recommendation more clearly associating mental health and dermatological issues than has been done previously. Therefore, the guideline authors said they hoped that more holistic multidisciplinary support is offered for those in need.

In light of the announcement, Doctor Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, commented: “Acne affects most of us at some point in our lives, and while it is usually limited to a few facial spots in our teenage years, for some people it is more severe and can impact on their self-esteem and mental health. Not everyone with acne will experience high levels of psychological distress, but it’s important that we find ways to support those who do.”

"With this new guideline, it is our hope that people whose acne affects their everyday lives are offered the support they need to treat the condition, both physically and mentally."