What effects do anabolic steroids have on the skin?
Steroids promote acne.(1,2) Anabolic steroids stimulate the production of oils in the skin, known medically as "sebum".(2) The oils or sebum produced is a fertile nutrient bath for several different types of bacteria. If an infection develops, there may be severe scarring and reactions from the body's immune system.(2) A 21-year-old steroid user developed severe acne after 4 weeks of anabolic steroid use.(1) His acne became infected with "Staph" and "Propionibacterium acnes." Toxic chemicals produced by these bacteria caused a severe immune reaction that sent him to the hospital for several weeks.(1) Drugs prescribed to treat acne (such as tetracycline and isotretinoin) may become toxic at normal doses if taken by a steroid abuser.(2) When the liver enzymes are occupied by anabolics, they are unable to deactivate these prescription drugs at a normal rate. The prescription drugs accumulate in the body, leading to toxic effects.(2) Male pattern baldness occurs in both male and female steroid abusers.(2-4) Some medical authorities state that hair growth returns when steroids are stopped.(2) Others say that hair loss is irreversible.(4)
1. Heydenreich G. Testosterone and anabolic steroids and acne
fulminans. Arch Dermatol 1989 Apr;125:571-2.
2. Johnson MD. Steroids. Adolescent Med 1991 Feb;2(1):79-93.
3. Yesalis CE, Wright JE, Bahrke MS. Epidemiological and policy
issues in the measurement of the long term health effects of
anabolic-androgenic steroids. Sports Medicine 1989
4. Wilson JD. Androgen abuse by athletes. Endocrine Reviews
by Trent Tschirgi, R. Ph.
(c) 1992 University of Maryland Office of Substance Abuse Studies.
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