Author: Richard G. Fried, MD, PH.D
The following review was contributed by: Helen Kaut: To read more of Helen Kaut’s Reviews Click HERE
If you only had acne as a teenager – you can consider yourself lucky. A large number of adults, including celebrities like Cameron Diaz suffer from this unpleasant skin condition, which can last into your 30s and even occur during your menopause. It is estimated that 40 to 50 million Americans suffer from acne.
Most self-help books about this condition focus mainly on teenage acne and its different treatments. Richard Fried’s approach is different, because he not only addresses the physical aspect of acne but also the effect on the patient’s psyche. Dr. Fried is an experienced dermatologist and clinical psychologist, who has treated many acne patients. According to him a clear link between acne and emotion exists. Acne sufferers get distressed about their appearance, their negative emotional response affects the condition of the skin in turn and a vicious cycle begins.
Dr. Fried’s book consists of 11 chapters. In the first five chapters he talks about the physical aspect of acne. In chapter one he explains the causes of acne and its effects on sufferers. He also describes different types of acne such as Acne Fulminans and Acne Rosacea. Dr. Fried also dispels various myths surrounding acne and clarifies that acne is almost always hormonal. The second chapter is dedicated to basic skin care while in chapter three Dr. Fried talks about acne triggers related to stress, diet and exercise. Questionnaires and daily logs to be filled in help the sufferer to identify his/her triggers.
Knowing what triggers outbreaks clearly helps preventing these by avoiding them. In chapter four he discusses types of over-the-counter and prescription treatments available for acne and scar reduction. He explains effectiveness and side effects of topical treatments such as salicylic acid, oral antibiotics and complementary therapies like herbal treatments. He also gives an overview on scar reduction treatments like laser and skin fillers. Chapter five helps the reader finding the right treatment. As every person reacts differently to different treatments there is no single treatment available that works for everybody. Finding a treatment that works for you is detective work and he recommends to fill in his acne monitoring chart, which is a daily log which prompts you to count the pimples each day of the week when on medication.
The remaining chapters address the psychological effects of acne. Stories of some of his patients illustrate his points and helpful questionnaires are included. He describes different psychological conditions associated with acne including obsessive-compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorder and depression. In chapter seven he invites the reader to pay attention to his/her own psyche and prompts him/her to write down whenever he/she feels a negative emotion. Chapter eight explores therapies helping patients suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. Suggested therapies include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, yoga, biofeedback and hypnosis. It also includes exercises. The remaining chapters focus on how the patient can get out of the vicious circle, how to change and enhance his/her social life and generally enjoy life again despite acne.The appendix lists useful addresses.
If you suffer from acne then Richard Fried’s practice oriented book might help you on your quest to better skin. Not only well researched and easy to understand for the layperson, the stories of his case studies are encouraging and the exercises, questionnaires and logs are very useful for managing your acne. The knowledge you gain about yourself, your triggers and the treatments available will also equip you with enough information for your next appointment with your GP.