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Steroid Acne in Men: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention


               Naturally, about everyone has some form of acne, some small, some big. Steroid acne is a result of using anabolic steroids for a long. Or it could be your body is just sensitive to a particular compound present in anabolic steroids. First, it is important to note that this kind of acne is very normal, only that it may appear bigger than normal. Also, keep in mind that it is no disease, just a reaction.

Steroid Acne

             Normally, acne is caused by a change in hormones which triggers the production of fat. The fat clogs the pores on the skin, resulting in a lump which is referred to as acne. It is not clear what causes steroid acne but it is believed to be a result of individual compounds found in a particular steroid. Whether the steroids are prescribed or those used in bodybuilding, steroid acne affects the skin in a way that makes someone feel uncomfortable.

Types of Steroid Acne

             Steroid acne occurs in two main kinds. The most dominant is fungal acne. Also known as Malassezia folliculitis, this kind of acne is due to infection of the hair follicles. Acne Vulgaris is another type of steroid acne that affects most steroid users. It occurs whenever one uses an injected steroid, although it also occurs naturally. Steroid acne is mostly seen in adolescence but can also occur in other groups of people. It is important to note that most chemicals found in steroids are naturally occurring, and that’s why steroid acne is seen in people who don’t use steroids as well.

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How to Identify Steroid Acne?

            A bodybuilder may blame steroids for acne on their skin, yet it could just be any natural kind of acne. As mentioned earlier, steroid acne is not very different from normal acne. However, there are a few details that make steroid acne a bit different. Some outstanding features include:

  • Open and closed blackheads that are normally bigger and darker than normal acne.
  • Small red lumps. The lumps may increase in size, become redder, and more painful as one continues using the drug
  • Lumps that look like a cyst. They may be painless in the beginning but becomes very painful when scratched or when pressure is applied.
  • Inflammation of oil glands on the skin and around the hair gland area.

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What Causes Steroid Acne?

              It is known what causes steroid acne for sure, but theories have been advanced to try and explain its origin. Fungal acne is caused by the proliferation of Malassezia yeast. It is normally experienced by the bodybuilder around the chest and upper back area. Steroid acne presents itself as some itchy papules on the skin surface. Malassezia acne induced by steroids is of the same size and appearance. All kinds of steroid acne are a result of inhalation, ingestion, or injection of steroids into one’s system. The main cause of steroid acne is the use of certain types of steroids which increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

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            Corticosteroids such as prednisone are prescription steroids that are normally given to people who are undergoing organ transplants. The objective is to prevent organ rejection by the person’s system. However, corticosteroids can also be used for fitness purposes, specifically for bodybuilding.

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         The drug has been found to aggravate the occurrence of acne to a higher degree. However, acne caused by this drug does not occur immediately. It is normally seen long after someone starts using it. It also doesn’t affect people who have not used the drug for long. Steroid acne in corticosteroid users is prevalent in people under the age of 30 but is generally found among all age groups that use it.

              How does acne occur on steroid users exactly? Research, though not conclusive, shows that steroids trigger the production of immune system receptors. The receptors are known as TLR2 and together with bacteria residing in the human body cause acne in specific parts of the body. They do this by creating more oils than normal in the body which cause clogging of pores in the back and chest regions. It is the closest researchers have gotten to finding the cause of steroid acne, but more studies are still ongoing.

            It has also revealed that acne has some inheritance characteristics. Men whose fathers have had close acne will likely have it as well. It is more of a hormonal trait and not necessarily caused by steroid use. Steroid acne is made worse by sweating. That means breakouts normally happen when the weather is hot and when someone is doing regular anabolic exercises. When mixed with sweat, the acne becomes very itchy and painful. Steroid acne is harder to control, unlike the one that appears on your face.

Treating Steroid Acne

First, steroid acne affects different parts of the body, namely:

  • The face
  • Upper back
  • Chest region

           Treatment sometimes depends on the part of the body with the most outbreak. Treatment is also dependent on the kind of acne. Sometimes the acne becomes very stubborn and defies several treatment measures. Such kind of acne will require more complicated medical procedures to get rid of completely. But you don’t need to go through all that trouble as the condition is not fatal.

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            Steroid acne, like any other kind of acne, can be treated at home if it is not causing you extreme discomfort. Medical attention becomes necessary when the condition starts becoming a serious health issue. That normally happens when you scratch or press the spot hard and leave an open won’t. The wound can get infected when you apply skin creams or when it comes into contact with any other foreign substance. While most people prefer to treat acne with antibodies, it is always a good idea to treat it with Topicals. The following treatment strategies have been found to reduce steroid acne significantly. Sometimes the condition even disappears completely.

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Ingested Antibiotics

             Severe and moderate cases of steroid acne by taking tetracycline antibiotics orally. Oral antibiotics of this group have been found to contain chemicals that kill the bacteria that causes acne. Even if the acne doesn’t go away completely, the drugs will cure you of all inflammation. Children normally have a different prescription of oral antibiotics for the treatment of acne.

          Be informed that oral antibiotics don’t cure steroid acne overnight. It takes up to ten weeks of regularly using the drugs to see positive results. The good part is it is unlikely that the condition will come back after treatment. Your body sort of develops immunity to the condition even as you continue using steroids.

           Antibiotics as a treatment method for steroid acne is most preferred by people of color due to its effectiveness in eliminating acne scars. The reason is that that group of people are more susceptible to acne outbreak than the rest of the population.

Apple Cider Vinegar

           Made by fermenting apple cider, this compound can be applied to the area where steroid acne has broken out. It kills the bacteria or fungi that are causing the condition faster than you think.

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         Apply the mixture once or twice a day for better results. The technique is purely natural and can be done at the comfort of your home. Applying apple cider vinegar may only treat mild cases of steroid acne. Seek a stronger treatment if the condition is severe.

Benzoyl Peroxide

            Studies have shown that Benzoyl Peroxide is the most effective antiseptic to get rid of steroid acne. The compound kills the bacteria that causes acne through oxidation. It is the bacteria that is responsible for inflammation and reddening of the affected area. The effectiveness of Benzoyl Peroxide can be enhanced by combining it with oral antibiotics. The treatment method works best for mild cases.

          Steroid acne treatment with Benzoyl Peroxide is most popular because the compound is easily accessible. You only need to pay a visit to a regular chemist or pharmacy to get it. Most manufacturers mix it with salicylic acid to make it safer to use.

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            You should practice caution when using the product to treat acne as it may aggravate the outbreak. There is bound to be some irritation when Benzoyl Peroxide comes into contact with the wound. You should not scratch the spot no matter how much it gets itchy. The itchy feeling will go away after some time, paving way for the acne to heal and disappear. Acnes are not only the ones you can see. Some are too small to notice with the naked eye. Always apply the mixture to your entire, not to spots you can see only.


              Although this treatment method is still being studied, some people have been healed of steroid acne through phototherapy. The treatment involves directing light at the spot of acne. Blue and red-blue light is mostly used for this purpose.

      The technique is not very popular among bodybuilders due to the long process of treatment. It is also expensive compared to other treatment methods. Besides, there may be severe side effects if the procedure is not carried out properly.

Home Treatment

            Not every case of steroid acne requires the attention of the doctor. You can manage the condition just fine with a few tips. You can learn how to prepare some kinds of Topicals to use them at home. A topical that goes by the name retinoid has been found to treat mild cases. The compound is found in specific creams, gels, and lotions. It is made from vitamins and does not have any side effects.

Steroid Acne Prevention

              Steroid acne is difficult to prevent unless you’re planning to halt the use of steroids entirely. But this is not an option if you’re a bodybuilder who has developed a dependence on steroids. All hope is not lost, though. We have prepared strategies for you that have a high likelihood of preventing steroid acne as well as reducing the severity of the symptoms.

Avoid Misusing Steroids

               You wonder why steroid acne does not affect everyone that is using steroids. Well, the condition is a direct result of misusing steroids. What constitutes steroid misuse? Prescribed steroids must not have treated differently from any other medication. Only take the required doses at the given intervals. Overdosing steroids will cause your body to react, steroid acne is one such reaction.

Stop using Steroids Altogether

            This is not a viable option but you have no other choice if the condition is very severe and is life-threatening. It is up to you to decide whether to stop using a particular steroid altogether for the sake of your health. Stopping the use of steroids comes with a lot of sacrifices, especially if it can potentially lead to career loss.

Use Topicals

            Topicals retinoids are not used to treat steroid acne only. They can also be used to prevent their appearance. The compound works best when combined with other dermatological products. Topicals should also be used regularly if you want to prevent acne completely.

Avoid Fatty Foods

          Acne would not form if there was no fat clogging your pores. It has been discovered that acne inflammation is a result of pressure put on the skin tissue by clogged fat on the pores. Reducing the intake of foods with a lot of fat and oil reduces the likelihood of steroid acne appearing. Or at least it will not make them big and painful. There is an anti-acne diet that you can take to reduce the likelihood of developing acne. An anti-acne diet is low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals.


             Steroid acne is something you should learn to live with. The reason is simple; the benefits of using steroids, whether prescribed or for bodybuilding purposes are more than the downsides. However, your life is not something to gamble with. If steroid acne is bothering you physically or psychologically, don’t wait until it’s too late. You can always start with home remedies, if they don’t work, consider seeing a doctor. Most importantly, find alternatives that do not cause acne. Steroid acne is one condition that is best treated with conventional techniques with no side effects. A little bit of irritation may be all you will experience.

What do you think?

Written by Steroid News


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