Young woman | teenage acne and depression

Teenage acne and depression: how to help

As a parent or carer, there is nothing more upsetting than seeing your child unhappy. 

Yet for many young people, the onset of teenage acne, combined with stresses such as exams, social pressures and fluctuating hormones make them very susceptible to anxiety and depression – even with the best family support, love and care.

So if you’re the mum, dad or carer of a teenager with acne, what can you do to help keep them feeling confident and happy in their own skin through those tricky teenage years?

About 80% of people aged between 11 to 30 are affected by acne, with the majority of sufferers being teenagers. Even though it is so common, young people with acne often say that it makes them feel lonely, and as if they are the only person to suffer. 

What causes teenage acne?

The exact causes of teenage acne are, medically speaking, still something of a mystery, although a great deal of research is discovering more about it. 

One of the underlying causes is due to increased levels of testosterone, in both boys and girls. Heightened levels of testosterone cause the skin’s tiny hair follicles to produce more of the skin’s natural oil or sebum. This oiliness means the follicles can easily become blocked with a mixture of sebum and dead skin, creating a perfect environment for infection to take hold, causing spots or more severe acne. 

Research suggests that heredity also plays a part, so if you or your child’s  other parent had acne, unfortunately, your young person is more likely to suffer too

The link between teen acne and depression

The first step to helping your young person is to understand the links between acne and depression or low mood. 

Acne will often take a toll on a young person’s emotional health. A recent report by the American Academy of Dermatology found that, “In study after study, people with acne can also develop depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor self-image, decreased quality of life and a feeling of being all alone.”

Conversely, some prescription treatments for acne have been linked to causing depression and low mood. The drug Accutane, usually branded Isotretinoin or Roaccutane in the UK, can still be prescribed for very severe acne, but in a minority of cases has been associated not only with serious physical side-effects but also emotional issues. 

The NHS website warns that patients should stop taking it immediately if they experience “anxiety, aggression and violence, changes in mood, or suicidal thoughts.”

How to reduce the severity of teenage acne

Beyond this type of very harsh prescription drug which is effective for around 4 out of 5 people, there is no absolute cure for acne. However, there are steps that young people can take to reduce the severity of their skin problems.

Here are some ways you can help your young person start improving their complexion and boost their confidence:


Teenagers who suffer from acne won’t respond well to being told to ‘wash their face’ – it’s often the type of jibe that school bullies come up with.

However, keeping hands clean is vitally important: we all touch our faces dozens of times a day, and if your skin is uncomfortable, you will probably subconsciously touch your face even more often, helping infection to spread.


Diet is also key. Anyone who has a teenager will know that getting them to eat five portions of fresh – preferably raw – fruit and veg a day is a challenge, so a dietary supplement may be a good idea.

Gut health

A good diet is about more than just getting the right vitamins and nutrients to support skin health. There is also a strong link between gut health and acne. Recent research suggests that the microbiome – the blend of good and bad bacteria that naturally live in the gut – could be a more significant factor in skin health than has been considered in the past.

One piece of meta-research published in July 2019 looks at the link between gut microbes, oral probiotics and diet to the severity of acne.  This research shows that this ‘gut-skin axis’ could also mean that low mood can exacerbate acne. The report says, ‘The emotions of stress (e.g., depression and anxiety), for instance, have been hypothesized to aggravate acne by altering the gut microbiota and increasing intestinal permeability, potentially contributing to skin inflammation.’ 

In other words, there is a perfect storm, where skin problems cause feelings of stress and depression, which in turn impairs the delicate balance of microbes in the gut, making acne worse.

It’s a nightmare.

This is precisely why we developed our new multivitamin, vegan skin complex, HRI Teen Skin.

It is the first supplement designed to target the causes of spots and acne in teenagers, as well as helping to improve energy, and balance hormone and blood glucose levels.

HRI Teen Skin is suitable for vegans and contains:

  • Live cultures of lactobacillus reuteri to support gut health
  • Antioxident-rich rapeseed extract, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Biotin and Zinc to help promote clear skin in teenagers
  • Vitamin B6 to help balance hormone levels
  • Chromium to help manage glucose levels and macronutrient breakdown
  • Vitamin B complex to regulate energy release and help combat tiredness and fatigue
  • Berry Extracts from Wild Blueberry, Wild Bilberry, Cranberry, Tart Cherry, Prune, Raspberry Seed and Strawberry – antioxidants which protect the cells from free radicals which can damage all cells, including the skin

So if you want to support your young person to have clearer skin, why not try helping them to improve their health from the inside with the vitamins and nutrients they need to improve gut and skin health.

For more information on natural health, follow us on Facebook @HRIherbal.

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