Does Creatine Cause Acne?

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Your skin is your main line of defence from the elements. Think about what it has to withstand on a daily basis; sun, wind, pollution, and chemicals from products you use. So, how can you keep skin in optimum health so it can do its job?

Tips for Healthy Skin

Tips for Healthy Skin

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Keeping Your Skin Clean and Clear

One of the most damaging and ageing things for your skin is sun exposure. Over a lifetime, it can cause wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancers. Always use a sunscreen when you are outside. Wear at least an SPF 15 and at least SPF 30 if you are in a hot climate. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every 2 hours, especially if you are swimming or sweating heavily.

Try and avoid being out in the sun when it’s at its hottest, between 10 and 2pm, but if you must be outside, wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts or long trousers, and of course, a hat to protect your hair and scalp.

Avoid Smoking

Avoid Smoking  

Smoking is another very damaging thing you can do to your skin. It makes your skin look older and it causes wrinkles. It decreases the blood flow to the skin which deprives it of oxygen and nutrients that it needs to stay healthy.

Smoking also damages collagen and elastin which are what gives the skin its strength and elasticity.

Treat Your Skin with Care

Treat Your Skin with Care   

Don’t take hot baths or showers as this can deplete moisture from the skin. Avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers for the same reason, and pat skin dry rather than rubbing it. Always use a moisturiser, ideally one with an SPF.    

Eat Well

Eat Well

Eating a healthy diet will help you look and feel your best. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Current research suggests that a diet rich in vitamin C and low in unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates can make your skin look younger.

Say Goodbye to Stress

Say Goodbye to Stress

Stress can make your skin more sensitive and can trigger breakouts and other skin problems. Try to live a more balanced lifestyle and try to do things that you enjoy.

Not All Skin Is Equal

Not All Skin Is Equal

The thickness of your skin varies depending on where it is on your body. Some parts of your body are subject to more wear and tear than others, so it figures that the skin needs to be thicker to protect these parts, for example, the soles of your feet. Here’s how to adapt your skincare routine to meet your skin’s needs:



Just as skin thickness varies, so does the number of hair follicles, sweat and oil glands in different areas of the body. These protect your skin and keep it healthy.

Areas of the skin where there are more oil glands and hair follicles can potentially heal more quickly from injury than places such as the neck and chest where there are very few glands or follicles.

Splash your face with lukewarm water, then massage your cleanser all over your face using your fingers. Do this for about a minute to make sure the product is given time to work, rinse thoroughly and pat the skin dry with a towel. Don’t rub the facial skin as it’s a lot thinner than the skin on the body. And don’t cleanse too much or use harsh products as this will cause the skin to produce too much oil to compensate for stripping its natural oils away.



Just as you should use hair care products for your hair type, you should use the right products for your skin type on your face.

In general, use richer formulations for dry skin, or dry areas like the elbows and knees, and use an oil-free moisturiser if your skin is oilier. Look for ‘non-comedogenic’ on the label, which means that it won’t clog pores and cause breakouts.

Steer clear of fragranced formulas if you have sensitive skin as they can cause irritation.

The Problem of Acne

The Problem of Acne

Breakouts on areas of the body such as the back may be hard to treat, as they are hard to reach, and they might be exposed to sweat more after a workout, for example. Bacteria can then build up in the hair follicles and cause breakouts.

If body acne only occurs occasionally, such as in the summer, use a body wash which contains ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Use it every day and avoid scrubbing the skin, as this can cause irritation and can make acne worse.

Protection from the Sun

Protection from the Sun

It’s also important to use a daily moisturiser with sun protection all year-round on any exposed areas of skin to keep it healthy, glowing and to minimise damage. Keeping the skin well-hydrated and using a sunscreen will help to protect the skin from ageing and disease-causing free radicals.



Acne is a common skin condition that affects many people at some point in their lives. It causes spots, oily skin and sometimes skin that’s hot or painful to touch, if it becomes infected. Acne most commonly develops on the face, back, and chest.

What Causes Acne?

What Causes Acne

Acne is most often caused by changes in hormone levels during puberty, but it can start at any age.

Certain hormones, particularly testosterone, cause the skin’s oil-producing glands next to hair follicles in the skin to produce larger amounts of oil.

The excessive oil changes the activity of a skin bacterium called P. acnes, which becomes more aggressive and causes inflammation and pus.

The hormones also thicken the lining of the hair follicle, which blocks the pores and causes breakouts.

Acne is also thought to run in families. If your mother and father had acne, it’s more likely that you’ll also have acne.

Hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy, can also lead to the development of acne in women.

Who Gets Acne?

Who Gets Acne

Acne is very common in teenagers and younger adults, due to hormonal fluctuations. As much as 80% of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by acne. Acne is most common in girls from the ages of 14 to 17, and in boys from the ages of 16 to 19.

Most people have acne flare ups for several years before their symptoms start to improve as they get older. Acne often disappears on its own when a person is in their mid-twenties.

In some less common cases, acne can continue into adult life. About 5% of women and 1% of men have acne over the age of 25.

Types of Spots Caused by Acne

Types of spots caused by acne

There are 6 types of spots that are caused by acne:

Blackheads: These are small black bumps that develop on the skin; the black is not caused by dirt, but by the appearance of the inner lining of the hair follicle which produces pigmentation.

Whiteheads: These have a similar appearance to blackheads, but they tend to be firmer and won’t burst when squeezed

Papules: These are small red bumps that may feel tender or sore

Pustules: These are bumps which have a white tip, caused by a buildup of pus under the skin

Nodules: These are large hard lumps that build up under the surface of the skin and can be painful

Cysts: These are the most severe type of spot caused by acne; they’re large pus-filled lumps that look like boils and can cause scarring if they burst.

Self-Help for Acne

Self-Help for Acne

Don’t wash the affected areas of skin more than twice per day. If you wash the skin too frequently, this can cause irritation and makes acne worse.

Wash the affected area of skin with a mild soap or cleanser and warm water, not hot or cold water, as this can make acne worse.

Don’t squeeze spots. This can cause irritation and infection, and cause permanent scarring.

Avoid wearing too much makeup or other cosmetics. This may be tempting, as you will want to try and cover spots up, but it can clog pores and make breakouts worse. Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic on the label. This means that the product will not block your pores.

Always remove makeup before you go to bed.

Shower as soon as possible after exercise to ensure that bacteria on the skin won’t clog pores and cause breakouts.

Treatment for Acne

Treatment for Acne

There is no cute for acne, but it can be controlled with creams, lotions, and gels. If you develop acne, you will most likely need to use a product containing benzoyl peroxide. This can be effective, but be aware that it can bleach clothing.

If your acne is severe or it appears on your chest and back, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or stronger creams that are only available on prescription from your doctor.

When to See Your Doctor

When to See Your Doctor

Even mild cases of acne can be distressing for a suffer. If your acne is making you feel very unhappy or medication is not working for you, speak to your doctor.

If you develop nodules or cysts, they need to be treated properly to avoid scarring, so speak to your doctor about options. If you pick or squeeze them yourself, they can cause permanent scarring. Stronger treatments can take around 3 months to work, but they are usually effective.



You are what you eat, and what you put in your body can affect your skin, so what is creatine and does it cause or worsen acne?

Creatine was first discovered by a French scientist in 1835. Its name comes from the Greek word ‘Kreas’, which means flesh.

What Is Creatine?

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid that’s found in meat and fish, although the body also makes it, in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.

It is converted into creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine in the body, and 95% of the body’s phosphocreatine is stored in the muscles where it’s used for energy. The remaining 5% is deposited in the brain, kidneys and liver.

Phosphocreatine is converted into an energy source for the body called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is used for fuel during high-intensity and short-duration physical activity.

Natural Sources of Creatine

Natural Sources of Creatine

You can increase your body’s creatine stores by getting it from natural sources via your diet. Grass fed beef and other meats are rich in creatine, as are grass fed chicken and turkey breast, lamb, venison and ostrich. Fish such as herring, wild salmon and tuna are also good sources of creatine.

What Are the Benefits of Creatine?

What Are the Benefits of Creatine

It increases muscle mass and boosts athletic performance

Creatine can enable a person to train harder for longer, which can lead to improved athletic performance, strength, and muscle growth.

It can reduce fatigue and tiredness   

Studies have found that creatine can boost energy and increase stamina.

It can improve brain function

Creatine boosts the levels of ATP in the brain, which gives it a vital energy boost. Several studies have also looked at also creatine’s potential in boosting brain function, and protecting it from neurological disease related to ageing.

Animal studies assessed creatine’s potential to improve the brain function in mice with Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Ischemic stroke, epilepsy and brain or spinal cord injuries. There is a need for further research, especially to assess the potential effect on humans.

It can reduce age-related muscle loss

As we get older, the fast-twitch fibres in our muscles and the levels of an anabolic hormone called IGF-1 in the body start to deteriorate.

Taking creatine can lower the risk age-related muscle wasting, since it boosts the number of fast twitch muscle fibres and levels of IGF-1.

It can reduce blood triglycerides

Studies have indicated that creatine has the potential to reduce triglyceride levels in men and women with high concentrations of these unhealthy fats in their blood.

It can lower the body’s levels of homocysteine  

Creatine apparently helps to reduce the body’s levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid that’s linked to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

It can promote strong bones

Creatine can be beneficial for bone development and maintenance. A Swiss study found that creatine may be useful for fracture healing or as an osteoporosis treatment.

Side Effects of Creatine

Side Effects of Creatine

The side effects associated with creatine include:

  • Weight gain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach upsets
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Kidney damage

More severe effects can include:

  • Allergic reaction,  hives, swelling or trouble breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Feeling dehydrated
  • Seizures or fainting
  • Dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, or confusion
  • Stop taking creatine immediately if you get any of these symptoms.


People with kidney or liver disease or high blood pressure should not take creatine without speaking to a doctor.

Speak to your doctor if you are taking any of these medications as creatine may interact with them:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Cimetidine and drugs that affect the kidneys: Taking creatine supplements alongside these medications can increase the risk of kidney damage.

Caffeine: This can make it difficult for the body to use creatine and it can increase the risk of dehydration. A combination of creatine, caffeine, and ephedrine (a banned stimulant) can cause a stroke.

Diuretics: The risk of dehydration and kidney damage increases if you take creatine alongside these drugs.

Creatine is not recommended for children, or women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding, because there is currently not enough available evidence about safety.

Creatine and Acne

Everybody has different body chemistry, and reacts to supplements differently, but there have been some noted links between creatine and acne. The link is thought to stem from an increased production of hormones which may affect the skin.

If you already have acne, it is likely that your acne will increase while you are taking creatine.

Why Does Creatine Cause Acne?

Why does creatine cause acne?

As well as increasing the amount of hormones in the body, creatine can cause dehydration, which leads to dry skin. Dry skin is more prone to acne.

Some creatine brands recommend that you take the creatine with a sports drink or fruit juice to make it more palatable. However, the amount of sugars that are consumed with the fruit juices or sports drinks trigger insulin production in the body. This further increase in hormones will encourage acne to develop in some people.

Because creatine helps you to work out harder, you’ll sweat more, and trapped bacteria on the skin can lead to outbreaks of acne.

How Can You Prevent Acne Breakouts from Using Creatine?

Take the creatine with water. It might not be the best tasting thing in the world, but this will eliminate the sugar you would take in from taking it with a fruit juice or similar. The water will help to prevent dehydration and dry skin too. Eat a healthy diet while you are taking creatine as this will help to keep the skin healthy

If you already have acne or you get it when using creating, ensure you take your medication as it will help to combat the effects of the creatine which might only be an issue when you start taking the supplement. Any sudden increases in hormones or dehydration will normally settle after a while or it can be remedied in other ways.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.