Acne is very often associated with the use of steroids, especially in bodybuilding, where overdoses are used to gain muscle mass. It seems that those who practice natural bodybuilding are less prone to acne.
Steroid users (and here I mean bodybuilders and other sports or amateurs, not for medical use) are more prone to acne because of changes in the skin, which creates an environment conducive to the development of the bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes, which causes acne. This discovery was made by bacteriologists from the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Iran. It seems that natural bodybuilders are not exposed to this risk.
About half of all people who use anabolic steroids have acne problems. Along with irritability and aggressiveness, acne is one of the three side effects most commonly seen in anabolic and androgen steroid users. But, not much is known about how steroids increase the chances of acne.
So far, it is only known that anabolic steroids increase the amount of sebum secreted by the skin cells. Sebum contains fatty acids. Fatty acids are toxic to most neutral skin bacteria, so they "cleanse" the skin, leaving harmful bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes, which resists fatty acids. In addition, these bacteria secrete the lipase enzyme, which breaks down fats into glycerol and fatty acids. As a result, golden staphylococcus and Propionibacterium acnes colonize the sebaceous glands, causing acne.
This is the theory. Iranian researchers have decided to compare the skin of 71 bodybuilders using steroids with those of 23 bodybuilders who did not use steroids, and that of 46 men who did not play sports, to see if the above theory is supported. It turned out to be half true. All subjects were men with a mean age of 24 years.
The researchers did not find a clear link between the use of anabolic steroids and the golden staph. Natural bodybuilders had golden staphylococcal skin as often as bodybuilders who used anabolic steroids. However, there has been a significant increase in Propionibacterium acnes bacterium in steroid users. The bacterium was present on the skin of 45% of subjects who used steroids. Only 17% of natural bodybuilders had this bacterium on the skin, and in smaller colonies.
It was also observed that those who practiced natural bodybuilding were more likely to have Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on their skin than those who did not play sports at all. However, natural bodybuilders had the cleanest and healthiest skin of all study participants.
So it remains for other studies to answer the question that arises naturally: is the lifestyle of natural bodybuilders what protects them against acne?