Money and costs with acne

The financial cost of having acne was not a big concern for most people we spoke to. However, having to treat and cover up acne for years did have financial impacts for some. Costs associated with having acne included:

•    prescription costs for those who had to pay
•    cost of shop bought products (including face washes, moisturisers and make-up)
•    private clinic appointment fees and treatments
•    travel costs for attending medical appointments and treatments
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Most people had financial help from parents or grandparents to cover the costs associated with treating and covering up acne. Others paid these costs for themselves.
Prescription costs

Prescriptions costs were not a problem for everyone. Prescriptions for under 16s and for 16-18 year olds in full-time education are free and when people did have to pay for prescriptions, their parents often helped. Hester’s friend told her about the HC2 form, which allows people over 16 on a low income to get help with prescription costs. 

For those who paid for their prescriptions, the costs of treating acne could be significant. This was a worry for some given that there was no guarantee a prescribed cream or medication would work, and they could go through a lengthy and costly process of trying out different treatments. People had different opinions about whether the cost of paying for treatments was justifiable.
A few people who got their prescriptions free or whose parents paid felt guilty about the costs associated with treating their acne on the NHS. They felt socially it wasn’t seen as a serious problem. When Naomi was on her third round of isotretinoin someone told her that the treatment cost the NHS thousands of pounds and she felt guilty about using taxpayers’ money on clearing up her skin. 

Shop bought skincare and make-up products

While basic routines with soap, water and moisturiser didn’t have to be expensive, most people had tried a wide variety of over the counter skincare products to treat their acne. 

Skincare products (face washes, masks, cleansers, toners, moisturisers, sun creams) can vary in price. Although they were considered “not cheap”, some people were happy to pay if the product worked well and didn’t need to be bought too often. However, there are expensive products on the market and people could spend considerable amounts of money on a single product that worked for them. Fatima, Sarah, Alexandra and Emma and Becky use special skincare products that cost a lot per bottle but seem to work well with their skin. Quite a lot of the young people we spoke to wore make-up to cover their acne and some found the more expensive brands were better suited to their skin. Others, like Nina and Hester, had tried expensive branded concealers that didn’t work for their skin.
A few people mentioned ways in which they tried to save money but still get good quality products, such as finding cheaper products with the same core ingredients or buying branded products when they were on sale. Ish and Hester think trying out different products was a waste of money and that it’s better to get professional help.
Paying for private care

A few people had gone to private dermatology clinics for treatment. Some people paid for treatment to avoid long delays of months or more to see a dermatologist on the NHS. Abbie’s grandfather paid for her to see a dermatologist privately, which meant she was seen more quickly and got medicines only a dermatologist could prescribe. Alexandra paid for weekly and then monthly treatments at a private clinic in her home country. Fatima went to a clinic in her home country and, although she thought they seemed focused on making money, found their products worked well for her.
Travel costs

Travel costs were not an issue for most people, but some treatments required regular trips to the GP or dermatologist for check-ups and travel costs could mount up.


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