A face to die for : acne, dermatology, and the quest for perfect skin in Britain and the United States, c.1800–present

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2021
Thesis identifier
  • T15944
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201554709
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • Acne is a blight on the social and emotional lives of many adolescents, often leaving both physical and psychological scars. Acne also carries a financial burden, with chronic unemployment being endemic amongst sufferers, costing over 3 billion dollars per year in direct and indirect health care costs in the US alone. But how far have adolescents, physicians and pharmaceutical companies been willing to go in order to treat it? This project addresses this question by providing the first history of acne. Drawing on unpublished archival material, medical literature, media sources, drug advertisements and oral history interviews, it charts how acne became the subject of medical concern from the nineteenth century onwards and explores how physicians and patients understood its causes and treatments. It examines the way physicians and pharmaceutical companies turned to the perceived health needs of adolescent patients and analyses how the risks and benefits of teratogenic drugs like Accutane were perceived by patients and physicians. It promises to add to the emergent historiography of skin and adolescent health, as well as to our understanding of the lived experience of those with acne. Finally, the project will engage with ongoing debates in the UK about whether Accutane (Roaccutane) should be sold in the UK and how drug policy should be informed more generally.
Advisor / supervisor
  • McIvor, Arthur.
  • Smith, Matthew, 1973-
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2020
Embargo Note
  • This thesis is currently under moratorium due to 3rd party copyright issues. If you are the author of this thesis please contact the library to resolve this issue.