It’s in those high stress moments, Carmichael explains, that people often want to zero in on the other person. They want to listen to their date speak, but intrusive thoughts often take center stage. For example: Are they staring at my acne right now? I wonder if my makeup is holding up. I hope my acne doesn’t gross them out.
These obsessive patterns aren’t easy to navigate away from, either. Carmichael often tells her clients to think of a few things they can redirect their thoughts to when these intrusive thoughts crop up, in order to help soothe their anxiety and be more present–but, of course, it’s easier said than done.
Adult acne seems to be especially frustrating in the professional world, Carmichael reports. Her clients struggling with adult acne often say their main concern is not being taken seriously, because they feel like they appear younger than they actually are. “If you’re going to a job interview [with acne], you may feel that you are not projecting a seasoned and mature physical appearance,” Carmichael echoes.
What’s more, living every day with the overarching urge to cover up in order to be socially accepted (like the scenario Suarez mentioned up top) can become traumatizing over time. “It can create a false sense of identity for some people,” Carmichael says.
And to bring everything full circle, this emotional distress can lead to worsening physical symptoms as well. “There can become a vicious circle where in our high-stress moments, we will have an acne flare up, which in turn causes more stress,” Carmichael explains.