Psychosocial Impact of Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation in Patients with Acne Vulgaris

J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017 May;10(5):18-23. Epub 2017 May 1.


Background: Acne vulgaris is a common, often socially distressing skin condition primarily seen in young adults. Quality of life studies have shown that people with acne are more introverted with increased social setting anxiety compared to a control group. Unfortunately, patients with acne may have residual postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, amplifying impaired psychosocial effects. Objective: To quantify the impact of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation in patients with acne using a psychometric scale. Design: A clinic-based survey was conducted among US adults with facial acne and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Outcomes included age, race, gender, and acne-related quality of life. A board-certified dermatologist rated each patient's acne severity and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Setting: Dermatology clinic, Anheuser Busch Institute and Des Peres Hospital, Saint Louis, Missouri. Participants: 48 subjects (25 patients with acne and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation; 23 with acne only). Measurements: Acne Quality of Life survey, dermatologist rating of acne and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation severity. Results: Subjects with postinflammatory hyperpigmentation reported statistically significant poorer mean scores on the Acne Quality of Life survey than subjects with acne only. Sixty percent of patients with postinflammatory hyperpigmentation had a "very markedly" impact to at least one aspect of the Acne Quality of Life survey scale compared to none of the acne only patients. There was no association between provider-reported hyperpigmentation severity and psychosocial impact. No differences in psychosocial impact were noted between males and females. Conclusion: Patients with acne and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation had poorer quality-of-life scores compared to patients with only acne. Having postinflammatory hyperpigmentation with acne negatively impacted self-perceptions and social/emotional functioning, especially in groups.