One of the most commonly reported side effects associated with the use of anabolics is steroid acne. Fortunately, you can take some steps to minimize oily skin and the development of blemishes both during and after your anabolic steroid cycles. The acne caused by steroids is an androgenic effect, much like the worsening of male pattern baldness or the conversion to estrogen. Your genetics play a significant role in the ways in which these androgenic side effects will affect you.
For example, if you have no male pattern baldness in your family, then the odds of developing it are slim to none. Along those same lines, if you did not struggle with acne during puberty or at any time in your adult life, the odds of developing severe acne because of anabolic steroid use are also slim.
Causes and Symptoms of Acne during Steroid Use
The androgenic effects of anabolic steroids cause the sebaceous glands in the skin to secrete more oils than normal. This also occurs in puberty for much the same reason; additional hormones during puberty cause oilier skin. However, in athletes, it is important to consider that working out also increases oil production, which causes acne to worsen very quickly. Most steroid users notice oily skin followed by blemishes on their backs, shoulders, and faces.
Steroid Acne Prevention
The absolute best way to prevent blemishes is to keep your skin clean at all times. Shower twice daily using a product that contains no additional oils. The best products are those labeled “non-comedogenic” and “water-based”, as these will not clog pores any further. Keep your blood sugar levels at the low end of normal, too. High blood sugar may contribute to worsening acne. Finally, studies suggest that incorporating a zinc supplement into your diet (30mg twice per day) can reduce the effects of acne. There is a common wives’ tale that certain foods can lead to acne, but this is a myth. The truth is that the food you eat has nothing to do with your skin. If you have heard that eating greasy foods leads to acne, this may be true – but only if the grease from the food gets into your pores directly.
Your skin will not absorb oils from the foods you eat. There is some relatively new information suggesting that foods high on the glycemic index can lead to acne, as well. These foods increase insulin production, which has a pronounced effect on some of the hormones that can eventually lead to acne. Eating a low-glycemic diet may help you treat or even prevent steroid acne, at least to a degree.
Treating Severe Cases of Steroid Acne
Sometimes, as acne progresses, bacteria can build up in the clogged pores and worsen the situation. For mild acne treatment, try a medicated cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, but remember that these are sometimes harsh on sensitive skin. For moderate to severe acne, you may need to visit your physician and get a prescription for antibiotics to kill the bacteria in your pores.
Another option is a topical medication containing a retinoid, which also requires a prescription. These not only treat your existing acne, but they also prevent new acne from forming. Of course, there are many ways to treat acne, and the treatment you should select depends primarily on the severity of your acne. Using a harsh product on skin that doesn’t require it may actually lead to more breakouts. The chart below gives you some options based on your skin.
Acne Severity Option 1 Option 2
Prevent and Treat Steroid Acne with Homeopathy and Herbs
In today’s day and age, more and more people are interested in staying away from harsh chemicals and pharmaceutical solutions, even when it comes to acne. Fortunately, there are several different products that have been shown effective. Bear in mind that these are most effective at preventing acne in the first place; if you have moderate to severe acne, a stronger product may be the best choice.
- Borax – Borax, which is a common laundry additive in many countries around the world, has been shown especially effective at treating acne on the nose and along the edges of the lips.
- Eugenia – This is a great all-around homeopathic treatment for mild to moderate acne.
- Sepia – Sepia is thought to be an excellent treatment for steroid acne because it has been used for centuries to prevent pre-menstrual acne, which is caused by hormones in much the same way as steroid acne.
- Dandelion – Dandelion is a common go-to herbal supplement for those who have kidney and liver problems, and many homeopathic physicians agree that a healthy liver is the key to clear skin. It is also antibacterial, which can help kill bacterial colonies before they have the opportunity to settle in your pores.
- Selenium – New research shows that people who are prone to acne are also deficient in selenium, a very powerful antioxidant. A supplement of 45mcg per day can help.
- Chromium – Another trace mineral like selenium, it is believed that chromium can improve your insulin sensitivity. Look for a supplement of 150mcg per day of chelated chromium for the best results.
What Not to Do
Remember that the consumption of oily or fatty foods does not cause acne, nor will it make it worse. No studies – scientific or otherwise – have ever linked the two. Many bodybuilders also believe that tanning beds keep acne under control by “drying” the skin, but this is not the case. A tanning bed actually saps moisture from your skin and leaves the oils behind, and over time, tanning can cause skin cancer. Finally, using antibacterial soap to wash your skin can cause certain strains of bacteria to become resistant to the anti-bacterial agent, which can have a significant impact on your health.
Acne is one of the most obnoxious and embarrassing side effects of anabolic steroid use, and the bad news is that it is also one of the most common. However, by preventing acne before it starts and treating it when it does, you can minimize its impact on your appearance. Whether you choose a herb, a mineral supplement, or even a prescription treatment, it is possible to look your best and avoid the worst of steroid acne.