Anabolic Steroids and Acne
Anabolic Steroids are generally used in Testosterone Replacement Therapy and for aesthetic purposes for men and women as well as used by sports enthusiasts. Anabolic Steroids should not be confused with Corticosteroid injections which treat acne, Anabolic Steroids cause or worsend acne symptoms. There are various risks and side effects of Anabolic Steroid (AAS) use such as hormone imbalance, male pattern balding, gyno and more but the major side effect that affects many users is acne vulgaris. The higher and more frequent the dose of AAS the more frequent and severe side effects of acne vulgaris occurs. The human body is full of androgen receptors and when the androgen hormone is detected it stimulates a change in gene expression and metabolism. As androgen receptors are not the same across the body and the androgen hormone can cause some positive effects or negative effects on the receptor, one negative is the susceptibility to acne vulgaris mostly on the face chest or back.
The acne vulgaris is caused by the increased activity of the sebaceous glands due to the elevated androgen hormone, the higher the concentration of Testosterone can not only increase muscle it can increase the size and growth rate of the sebaceous glands which produces in high levels in sebum production and the clogging of pores. This induced the growth of acne causing bacteria, as the bacteria uses the sebum as a source of nutrition to grow. This increase in sebum leads to increased inflammation, worsening existing acne, damaging tissue and increasing the risk of acne scaring.
The treatment of Anabolic Steroid induced acne is not identical in all cases and even stopping the use of steroids might not resolve the acne issues caused by the steroid cycle. This is due to the persistent infection of P. Acnes bacteria inside the hair follicle. Once it is established it may persist in your body for a long time even long after stopping any steroid cycle. Treatment for Steroid acne can be Retinoids, Antibiotics, Androgen Inhibitors or over the counter medications.
Retinoids: Retinoids are Oral and Topical which can decrease the sebaceous gland activity and improve acne symptoms. Topical retinoids are less effective then oral treatment for inflammatory, nodular and cystic forms of acne. Steroid Induced Acne is inflammatory as such most steroid users resort to taking Accutane or isotretinoin.
Antibiotics: There are a wide range of antibiotics that have been shown to be effective in treating steroid induced acne. Some antibiotics have both antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties.
Androgen Inhibitors: While many who are using steroids would not want to inhibit androgen, many who suffer from acne in general do go on an androgen inhibitor. Topical androgen inhibitors target specific areas.
Over The Counter (OTC) Acne Treatments: Most of these include a low dose of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or other antibacterial or Keratolytic compound and can be effective with mild non inflammatory acne.