Acne

Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin to secrete an oily substance called sebum, which is made of fats and the remnants of dead fat-producing cells. Excess stimulation, as with steroid abuse, may also cause a significant increase in the size of the sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are found at the base of the hair follicles in all haircontaining areas of the skin. If the androgen level becomes too high and the sebaceous glands become overactive, the hair follicles may begin to clog with sebum and dead skin cells, resulting in acne. Acne vulgaris (common acne) is frequent in steroid users, especially when the drugs are taken in supratherapeutic levels. This often includes acne lesions on the face, back, shoulders, and/or chest.

A mild incidence of acne vulgaris is usually addressed with topical over-the-counter acne medications and a rigorous skin cleaning routine that removes excess oil and dirt. More serious acne may develop in sensitive individuals, including acne conglobata (severe acne with connected nodules under the skin) or acne fulminans (highly destructive inflammatory acne). Such incidences may require medical intervention, which usually involves treatment with isotretinoin. Topical anti-androgen drugs are also under investigation for the treatment of severe acne, and have shown a great deal of promise in early trials. Acne is typically resolved with the cessation of steroid use, although the overproduction of sebum may persist until the sebaceous glands have had time to atrophy back to original size. Serious forms of acne may produce lasting scars.

Acne
Acne on the chest caused by steroid use

References

Wlliam Llewellyn (2011) - Anabolics

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