Mental Health Conditions Similar Among White and Skin of Color Acne Patients

Shot of an attractive young woman inspecting her face in the bathroom mirror
The differential effect of acne on mental health in patients with different racial and ethnic backgrounds is evaluated.

Skin of color (SOC) patients with acne had similar mental health outcomes as their White counterparts, according to research results published JAMA Dermatology.

In a nationwide, cross-sectional study, a total of 8,537,264 US patients (6,952,001 White and 1,585,263 SOC patients) with acne were compared using mental health outcomes reported during the 2004-2017 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). The researchers defined the SOC study population as, “patients who self-identified as Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or Multiple Races.” The mean ages of the White patients and SOC patients were 32.85 and 35.35 years, respectively.

According to the results acquired, there were no significant differences in the mental health of White and SOC patients with acne. The mean scores for psychological distress (K6) among White and SOC patients were 3.64 and 3.19 (P= 0.226), respectively. Depression (PHQ2) mean scores were 0.685 and 0.632 (P=0.65), respectively. Overall mental health (MCS) was 50.11 and 50.74 (P=0.474), respectively. Lastly, perceived mental health state (MNHTLH) was 1.91 and 1.83 (P=0.365), respectively.

The study was limited by the lack of information concerning acne severity or complications such as scarring or keloids, which could also affect mental health outcomes.

The researchers concluded, “Although our study did not uncover differences among mental health outcomes among different races and ethnicities, it is important for clinicians to recognize disparities in access to acne treatment between these groups.”

They added, “To mitigate healthcare disparities, clinicians must advocate for improved access for acne treatment for patients of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.”


Kohn AH, Pourali SP, Rajkumar JR, Hekmatjah J, Armstrong AW.  Mental health outcomes are similar in skin of color and white acne patients: a population-based study. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Published online June 12, 2021. doi: