Dermatologists on the Look Out for Steroid Users

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The use of anabolic steroids can lead to an increase in acne, particularly on the back, in some users. The fact that this particular steroid side effect manifests itself in the skin has led one dermatologist to recommend the investigation of athletic patients who present with clinical signs of acne, rosacea, seborrhea, alopecia or hirsutism.

Michael Scott M.D., an associate professor of dermatology at the Western University of Health Sciences, believes detecting anabolic steroid use in patients gives clinicians an opportunity to teach them about the dangers of steroids and teach them about the relationship between steroids and acne.

“Since many of the side effects of anabolic steroids are manifested in the skin, dermatologists are in a unique and favorable position to detect their use, if they are aware of such clinical signs,” according to Scott. “Once alerted to this possibility during a dermatological examination, the dermatologist has an excellent opportunity to make users aware of the potential hazards and dangers of taking such drugs.”

However, not all dermatologists believe that acne, even back acne, is an effective method of profiling steroid users. Dr. Jennifer Goldwasser, a dermatologist at the Central Westchester Dermatology, reports that only about 10% of her “back acne” patients use steroids; in other words, the overwhelming majority of patients with back acne do not use steroids.

Dr. Eric Schweiger, a Manhattan dermatologist, admits that athletes are more likely than the general population to experience back acne but it is not because of their steroid use. Athletes are more likely to sweat excessively due to their sports participation. Increased activity leads to increased sweating which in turn makes it more likely that the individual will have clogged pores and acne.

Do you think dermatologists should attempt to profile steroid users based on the manifestation of acne?



Petrau, Ilya. (August 1, 2008). Anabolic androgenic steroid use, abuse on the rise. Retrieved July 27, 2011 from http://www.modernmedicine.com/modernmedicine/Modern+Medicine+Now/Anabolic-androgenic-steroid-use-abuse-on-the-rise/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/732701?contextCategoryId=40153

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