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Acne Treatments for Men

Acne in men is on the rise, but acne treatments are better than ever

Acne treatment continued...

If these products don’t help, a dermatologist can prescribe several other treatments:

  • Antibiotics taken orally or rubbed into the skin help control bacteria.
  • Vitamin A derivatives, known as retinoids, help unclog pores and keep them unclogged.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications known as corticosteroids can be injected directly into an inflamed cyst or pustule by a doctor to subdue severe eruptions.

One word of caution: Some supplements designed to quell acne can actually cause other problems. “If you take too much zinc to treat acne, it can cause anemia,” says Dr. David Rahimi, a privately practicing dermatologist in Los Angeles. “It can bring your white cell count down and lead to severe infection. Too much vitamin A in the form of Accutane can cause a host of problems from liver toxicity to hair loss — all sorts of problems.” Rahimi says these products should be used moderately, if at all, and preferably under a doctor’s supervision.

Adult acne and anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids, used by athletes and bodybuilders to build muscle mass, are one well-known cause of acne in men. Studies indicate that about one-third of men who use steroids get acne, and about 50% of the men who get it develop a severe form known as cystic acne.

“With some patients, I can tell from the kind of acne they have that they are using anabolic steroids,” says Jeffrey Dover, MD, a dermatologist at Skin Care Physicians of Chestnut Hill in Massachusetts. “The acne usually is on the back and on the chest, but it can be anywhere. Treating them involves getting them to acknowledge that they’re taking these performance-enhancing drugs. It is very difficult to treat because it’s intensely resistant to typical treatments.”

Such acne usually goes away gradually if the man stops taking the steroids.

Acne-like problems

Men also can develop an acne-like disorder known as folliculitis, Rahimi tells WebMD. Frequently, this comes from the tiny nicks caused by shaving too closely. Bacteria enter the follicles and cause infection.

“One way to distinguish a follicular pimple from acne is that with a follicular pimple you often can see the hair shaft at the center of the lesion,” Rahimi says. “The pimples sometimes contain pus, and they may crust over or become surrounded by an area that’s red and inflamed. The infection may itch or be somewhat tender, but it usually isn’t painful.” Deep folliculitis, however, which affects the entire hair follicle, can cause large, painful, pus-filled bumps that may leave scars, he adds.

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