Steroid ACNE

By | June 10, 2022

Steroid acne is a result of certain medications. However, before switching medications, it makes sense to weigh up the medical costs and benefits.

What is steroid acne?

Steroid acne is a form of acne, i.e. an inflammatory disease that can be observed in the hair follicles, among other things. Steroid acne owes its name to the fact that the form of acne is usually the result of a specific medication. For what is bse used for, please visit

It is true that the term steroid acne is also occasionally used in everyday usage for acne that follows abuse of steroids (such as the male sex hormone testosterone); medically, however, this is not correct.

The most common symptom of steroid acne is the appearance of red papules (nodules on the skin). More rarely, so-called papulopustules can also form; these are purulent papules.

If steroid acne has existed for a few months, blackheads can also form as part of the disease. The skin changes caused by steroid acne are particularly evident on the shoulders and back.


Steroid acne can be caused both by drugs that are applied locally (e.g. in the form of ointments) and by those that are used systemically (e.g. in the form of tablets, i.e. affecting the entire organism).

However, steroid acne caused by local drug administration is comparatively rare. The drugs that can cause steroid acne include glucocorticoids (also known as cortisone ).

The latter are used, inter alia, for the treatment of asthma or autoimmune diseases ; Glucocorticoids are also occasionally used in organ transplants. In addition to cortisone, various antibiotics or sleeping pills can also lead to steroid acne.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A steroid acne manifests itself primarily through skin changes such as pustules and papules. After two to three months, so-called comedones can form, large, usually very painful skin changes that are typically localized in the back and shoulders. The skin changes develop slowly and do not cause any noticeable symptoms at the beginning.

Itching, redness and pain only occur as the disease progresses. In the further course, sensory disturbances and even partial paralysis can occur. The symptoms often represent a significant burden for those affected. The constant itching can lead to sleep disorders and discomfort, which can result in further problems.

Some patients also suffer emotionally from the skin changes. This can lead to social anxiety, inferiority complexes or depressive moods. The psychological symptoms usually subside once the steroid acne has been resolved. If the acne persists for a longer period of time, the mental suffering can solidify.

Scars, pigment disorders and other permanent skin changes can also occur. In addition, steroid acne causes the typical symptoms of steroid abuse. These can include gastrointestinal complaints, cardiovascular problems and a variety of hormonal disorders.

Diagnosis & History

A steroid acne can be diagnosed on the basis of the existing symptoms and a patient interview: If a patient has typical symptoms (such as papules) of a form of acne and it turns out that the patient is currently being treated with medication that can cause steroid acne, the corresponding diagnosis is usually made placed.

The course of steroid acne depends, among other things, on the individual patient and the treatment measures that are taken. If it is possible to stop taking the medication that presumably triggered the steroid acne, the disease often subsides on its own after a few weeks. Long-term consequences of steroid acne can be scars that appear on the areas of the skin that were affected by lesions.


In the case of steroid acne, those affected suffer from the usual symptoms of acne. As a rule, this leads to the formation of pimples or blackheads. These complaints can be very uncomfortable, especially on the face or other visible areas, and have a very negative effect on the quality of life and aesthetics of the person concerned.

Most patients feel uncomfortable with the symptoms and suffer from inferiority complexes or a significantly reduced sense of self-esteem. Bullying or teasing can also occur. Likewise, steroid acne can lead to pustules or papules. If the steroid acne occurs over a longer period of time, it can also lead to scars on the face.

In many cases, these can no longer be treated directly and remain on the face. When treating steroid acne, the triggering substance must be stopped first. In many cases, the symptoms then go away on their own. Complications usually do not arise. Treatment with ointments or creams is only necessary in rare cases. The steroid acne does not negatively affect the life expectancy of the patient.

When should you go to the doctor?

A doctor should always be consulted for steroid acne. This disease must be treated by a doctor as it cannot heal itself. If steroid acne is not treated, the symptoms usually get worse.

A doctor should be consulted if the affected person suffers from the formation of papules and pustules. In most cases, these appear on the face of the affected person, but they can also cover the entire body. Especially after taking steroids, these symptoms should be checked by a doctor. Most patients also show redness or severe itching, which can also lead to sleeping problems or sensitivity disorders. If these symptoms do not go away on their own, a doctor must be consulted.

Steroid acne can be treated well by a dermatologist or by a general practitioner. The further course depends on the exact cause. Since steroid acne can also lead to depression or mental upset, psychological help should also be sought. Usually, steroid acne does not reduce the life expectancy of the sufferer.

Treatment & Therapy

The therapy of steroid acne is initially related to factors such as the severity of the symptoms that occur and the cause of the corresponding skin changes. Whenever possible, a first-line treatment step is to stop (or at least reduce) the drug treatment that has led to the steroid acne.

Before this step, however, a detailed discussion with the doctor treating you is necessary; the advantages and disadvantages of reducing a previous dose of medication must be weighed against each other in order to be able to make a responsible decision. However, a change in medication does not lead to spontaneous healing of the steroid acne in all cases.

In cases in which a change in medication is not possible for medical reasons, or in which a change in medication has not brought about the desired success, the steroid acne is then often treated symptomatically. One possible method of symptomatic therapy for steroid acne is the so-called dermabrasion; Here, skin layers of the changed skin areas are removed with the help of a medical grinding head.

The skin symptoms of steroid acne can also be combated by applying so-called retinoids (chemical substances) locally. Cryosurgery, for example, is one of the surgical procedures used to treat steroid acne: as part of this procedure, altered skin tissue is surgically removed using very strong cold. In so-called cauterization, altered skin tissue from steroid acne can also be surgically removed, for example using high heat or chemical agents.


Steroid acne can be prevented, for example, by reducing risky medications (if medically advisable) or replacing them with alternative medications. If such a measure is not medically justifiable and steroid acne has already occurred, methods of symptomatic treatment of steroid acne can be used to prevent the symptoms from worsening.


The steroid acne is primarily to be regarded as a serious side effect of dedicated medication intake. In principle, the decisive measure consists in stopping the triggering preparation or doping substance. In this way, the symptoms can be alleviated in the long term. The skin changes themselves can be treated with typical home remedies and care products.

In addition to the classic skin care products, there are also some natural remedies that are easy to get in the drugstore. The latter in particular are characterized by positive effects on the skin. It is, for example, infusions with herbal tea as well as essential oils. In order to avoid scarring, contact with bothersome pimples should be avoided if possible.

A treatment of the skin with cooling impacts appears to be recommended. Cold helps relieve pain and reduce itching. On the other hand, moisture opens the pores. Only when the steroid acne does not subside or even worsens is the trip to the dermatologist unavoidable.

It cannot be completely ruled out that in some cases an intolerance or an allergy causes the steroid acne. This needs to be clarified. Since steroid acne often promotes depression or psychological upsets, the person concerned should not be afraid to seek psychological help if necessary. In the end, any bullying can be countered effectively and follow-up care can be carried out in a goal-oriented manner.

You can do that yourself

First and foremost, steroid acne is a serious side effect of drug intake. The most important measure is to stop taking the drug or doping that caused it. This can alleviate the symptoms in the long term.

The skin changes themselves can be treated with typical home remedies and care products. In addition to the classic skin care products from the drugstore, which should only be taken in consultation with a doctor due to aggressive ingredients, there is a whole range of natural remedies that have positive effects on the skin. These include infusions with herbal tea or essential oils. In order to avoid the formation of scars, contact with the pimples should be avoided as much as possible. It is advisable to treat the skin with cooling impacts. Cold soothes pain and reduces itching, while moisture opens pores.

If the steroid acne does not subside or even worsens, a dermatologist must be consulted. Occasionally, the disease is based on an intolerance or an allergy that needs to be clarified. For this purpose, patients should consult a doctor at an early stage, who can initiate these steps and, if necessary, directly suggest a therapy.

Steroid ACNE