CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Australian Journal of Primary Health   
Australian Journal of Primary Health
  The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Board
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Instructions to Authors
Submit Article
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our email Early Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with CP
blank image
facebook twitter youtube


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 17(2)

‘Perfect skin’, the media and patients with skin disease: a qualitative study of patients with acne, psoriasis and atopic eczema

Parker Magin A D , Jon Adams B , Gaynor Heading C and Dimity Pond A

A Discipline of General Practice, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2008, Australia.
B Discipline of Social Science, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.
C Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: parker.magin@newcastle.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 17(2) 181-185 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY10047
Submitted: 16 August 2010  Accepted: 10 December 2010   Published: 7 June 2011

PDF (110 KB) $25
 Export Citation

The relationship of skin disease with societal ideals of beauty, and the role of the media in this relationship, has not previously been researched. The overall objective of this study was to explore the psychological effects of skin disease. The theme of the ideal of perfect skin and the role of the media in generating this ideal arose via an inductive study methodology and was explored in the context of respondents’ psychological morbidity. A qualitative study, 62 semi-structured interviews were conducted with respondents with acne, eczema or psoriasis recruited from both general practice and specialist dermatology practice in an Australian regional city. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis employing a process of constant comparison in which data collection and analysis were cumulative and concurrent. The themes of perfect skin, societal ideals and media influence emerged from this iterative process. Respondents identified a societal ideal of flawless skin, largely mediated by media portrayals of perfection. Failure to meet this ideal precipitated psychological morbidity in female, but not male, respondents. An appreciation of the pervasive pressures of society and media upon females with skin disease may inform management strategies, particularly psychological management strategies, in patients with skin disease.

Additional keywords: acne vulgaris, mass media.


Britt H, Miller G, Knox S, Charles J, Valenti L, Henderson J (2002) ‘General practice activity in Australia 2001–2002.’ General Practice Series No. 10. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Canberra)

Carney T, Louw J (2006) Eating disordered behaviors and media exposure. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 41, 957–966.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Chan J, Rohr J (2000) Acne vulgaris: yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Australasian Journal of Dermatology 41, S69–S72.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Dittmar H, Howard S (2004) Professional hazards? The impact of models’ body size on advertising effectiveness and women’s body-focused anxiety in professions that do and do not emphasize the cultural ideal of thinness. The British Journal of Social Psychology 43, 477–497.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Durkin SJ, Paxton SJ (2002) Predictors of vulnerability to reduced body image satisfaction and psychological wellbeing in response to exposure to idealized female media images in adolescent girls. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 53, 995–1005.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Eagly A, Ashmore R, Makhijani M, Longo L (1991) What is beautiful is good, but...: a meta-analytic review of research on the physical attractiveness stereotype. Psychological Bulletin 110, 109–128.
CrossRef |

Fouts G (2000) Television situation comedies: female weight, male negative comments and audience reactions. Sex Roles 42, 925–932.
CrossRef |

Gupta MA, Gupta AK (1998) Depression and suicidal ideation in dermatology patients with acne, alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. The British Journal of Dermatology 139, 846–850.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Gupta MA, Gupta AK (2003) Psychiatric and psychological co-morbidity in patients with dermatologic disorders: epidemiology and management. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 4, 833–842.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Halioua B, Beumont MG, Lunel F (2000) Quality of life in dermatology. International Journal of Dermatology 39, 801–806.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Haughton N (2004) Perceptions of beauty in Renaissance art. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 3, 229–233.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Koblenzer CS (2003) Psychosocial aspects of beauty: how and why to look good. Clinics in Dermatology 21, 473–475.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Latner JD, Rosewall JK, Simmonds MB (2007) Childhood obesity stigma: association with television, videogame, and magazine exposure. Body Image 4, 147–155.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Magin P, Pond D, Smith W, Watson A (2005) A systematic review of the evidence for ‘myths and misconceptions’ in acne management: diet, face-washing and sunlight. Family Practice 22, 62–70.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Magin P, Adams J, Heading G, Pond D, Smith W (2006a) Psychological sequelae of acne vulgaris: results of a qualitative study. Canadian Family Physician Medecin de Famille Canadien 52, 978–979.

Magin P, Adams J, Heading G, Pond D, Smith W (2006b) The causes of acne: a qualitative study of patient perceptions of acne causation and their implications for acne care. Dermatology Nursing 18, 344–349.

Magin P, Adams J, Heading G, Pond D, Smith W (2009a) The psychological sequelae of psoriasis: results of a qualitative study. Psychology Health and Medicine 14, 150–161.
CrossRef |

Magin PJ, Pond CD, Smith WT, Watson AB, Goode SM (2008) A cross-sectional study of psychological morbidity in patients with acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis in specialist dermatology and general practices. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 22, 1435–1444.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Magin PJ, Adams J, Heading GS, Pond CD (2009b) Patients with skin disease and their relationships with their doctors: a qualitative study of patients with acne, psoriasis and eczema. The Medical Journal of Australia 190, 62–64.

McKenzie-Green B, Giddings LS, Buttle L, Tahana K (2009) Older peoples’ perceptions of oral health: ‘it’s just not that simple’. International Journal of Dental Hygiene 7, 31–38.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Pinhas L, Toner BB, Ali A, Garfinkel PE, Stuckless N (1999) The effects of the ideal of female beauty on mood and body satisfaction. The International Journal of Eating Disorders 25, 223–226.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Plunkett A, Marks R (1998) A review of the epidemiology of psoriasis vulgaris in the community. The Australasian Journal of Dermatology 39, 225–232.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Robertson CF, Dalton MF, Peat JK, Haby MM, Bauman A, Kennedy JD, Landau LI (1998) Asthma and other atopic diseases in Australian children. Australian arm of the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood. The Medical Journal of Australia 168, 434–438.

Wegner BS, Hartmann AM, Geist CR (2000) Effect of exposure to photographs of thin models on self-consciousness in female college students. Psychological Reports 86, 1149–1154.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2014