Young adults with acne, especially individuals who are sexual minorities, are at increased risk for depression and suicidal ideation, according to the results of a cross-sectional study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Publicly available data from Wave III of the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent to Adult Health (2000-2001) were used to evaluate 4094 heterosexual and 564 sexual minority US adults between age 18 and 28. In this study, acne was defined as the use of a prescription acne medication over the previous 12 months. Prevalence rates and odds ratios were calculated for all primary outcomes, including a history of depression and recent clinical depression, suicidal ideation, antidepressant use, and psychological counseling.

Overall, acne was linked to significantly increased odds of reporting a history of depression (P =.003) and suicidal ideation (P =.04). Moreover, in individuals with and without acne, sexual minorities exhibited increased odds compared with heterosexuals of reporting all primary outcomes. The relative increased odds of suicidal ideation in sexual minorities vs heterosexuals was significantly higher in individuals with acne (35.4% vs 7.8%, respectively; adjusted odd ratio [OR] 8.05; P <.001) vs individuals without acne (15.3% vs 5.3%; adjusted OR 2.97; P <.001).

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The findings demonstrated that sexual minorities with acne are a group at particularly high risk for depression and suicidal ideation, with more than one-third of these individuals noting a history. Additional prospective studies are warranted to further explore the relationship between acne, sexual orientation, and mental health status.

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Gao Y, Wei EK, Arron ST, Linos E, Margolis DJ, Mansh MD. Acne, sexual orientation, and mental health among young adults in the United States: A population-based, cross-sectional study. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017;77(5):971-973.