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Acne And How It Can Affect Your Career

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Does acne negatively affect your career? Suffering from acne can be hard enough on your social life1. But if you have the feeling that it may be affecting your career too, new evidence says you may be right. Having acne can affect your career path in a variety of ways2. If acne makes you feel less-social at work3, it could be contributing to the fact that you keep getting passed over for that corner office. Evidence also shows that acne can make your job search more of a headache. So though you may be surprised to learn that many of our Facing Acne visitors are adults looking for Proactiv reviews and information on a variety of acne treatments, we aren’t.

Waiting for Job Interview
Any job interview can make you want to hide your face if you have acne.

The Job Interview

Preparing for a job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience in the best of times. When you add in the stress of worrying about your acne, a job interview can turn into an absolute nightmare4. Many sufferers have long commented that severe acne seems to have had a negative impact on their job search5. A study at Rice University and The University of Houston seems to indicate that these impressions may be correct.

The study found that interviewers tend to concentrate their gaze in a triangular pattern around the eyes and mouth. The more the interviewers concentrated on the people’s acne, the less they could remember about the person being interviewed. While the interviewer was certainly not deliberately discriminating against acne sufferers6, the results still ultimately favored candidates with clear skin. This is a reflection of what acne sufferers will have picked up on in many social or business environments, that people remember them for their acne above all else.

The Impact On The Job

The effect of acne goes far beyond just the physical. Suffering from acne can have a severe impact on the way you view yourself7. Many sufferers tend to have issues with self esteem, and some people with acne even suffer from depression. In less severe cases, it is common for people with acne to be more socially cautious and withdrawn8. Anyone who has skin problems knows what this feels like. It is hard to be your normal social self if you are constantly discouraged by the state of your face. It can also be daunting to try new social experiences, when you feel embarrassed by how you look9. Chances are you will be less likely to attend office events at a time when interoffice socializing is as important as ever in propelling your career forward. An employee suffering from severe acne would be less likely to accept an invitation to a company golf outing or an after-work happy hour. While not technically work-mandatory events, such situations where employees are put in social bonding situations are vital to increasing your standing in office politics.

Employees who perform well in social situations are more likely to be considered for the coveted corner office. When someone feels uncomfortable, they tend to avoid eye contact and keep to themselves. Both of these behaviors can be taken for antisocial, and are serious impediments to vertical movement in an organization.

It is also not lost on most severe acne sufferers that there are still many misconceptions about acne that are rampant. Some people believe that having severe acne is a hygiene problem. By simply being aware that some may have these misconceptions, sufferers at times feel embarrassed or emotionally withdraw10. Being adamant in not internalizing these biases is often the first step to making positive changes, especially when dealing with something as important as your career.


  1. Tanghetti EA, Kawata AK, Daniels SR, Yeomans K, Burk CT, Callender VD. Understanding the burden of adult female acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Feb;7(2):22-30.
  2. Dréno B, Tan J, Kang S, Rueda MJ, Torres Lozada V, Bettoli V, Layton AM. How People with Facial Acne Scars are Perceived in Society: an Online Survey. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 6(2):207-18.
  3. Timms RM. Moderate acne as a potential barrier to social relationships: myth or reality? Psychol Health Med. 2013;18(3):310-20.
  4. Heisig M, Reich A. Psychosocial aspects of rosacea with a focus on anxiety and depression. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 Mar 6;11:103-107.
  5. Hazarika N, Archana M. The Psychosocial Impact of Acne Vulgaris. Indian J Dermatol. 2016 Sep-Oct;61(5):515-20.
  6. Nguyen CM, Beroukhim K, Danesh MJ, Babikian A, Koo J, Leon A. The psychosocial impact of acne, vitiligo, and psoriasis: a review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016 Oct 20;9:383-392.
  7. Fabbrocini G, Cacciapuoti S, Monfrecola G. A Qualitative Investigation of the Impact of Acne on Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQL): Development of a Conceptual Model. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 8(1):85-99.
  8. Gallitano SM, Berson DS. How Acne Bumps Cause the Blues: The Influence of Acne Vulgaris on Self-Esteem. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2017 Dec 6;4(1):12-17.
  9. Bowe WP, Doyle AK, Crerand CE, Margolis DJ, Shalita AR. Body image disturbance in patients with acne vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011 Jul;4(7):35-41.
  10. Darji K, Varade R, West D, Armbrecht ES, Guo MA. Psychosocial Impact of Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation in Patients with Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017 May;10(5):18-23.
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