Does Prednisone Cause Acne

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Prednisone treats allergic reactions autoimmune diseases and in higher doses, it will treat cancer. But why do the drugs that have some of the worst side effects cause acne? Is prednisone one of those drugs? There is information that it can have really negative side effects and acne could be one of those effects. It is prescribed to treat inflammatory diseases and one of those diseases in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. So, this is strong medication and it may have a hand in acne proliferation. Let us look into this matter. It is a cheap medication prescribed by physicians to get an attack of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis under wraps. The bad thing about prednisone is that once it is started it cannot be stopped suddenly. This is due to the fact that there could be some bad side effects that accompany a quick termination of the drug.It can be taken in liquid form or by pills.

Getting a person off the drug has to be done slowly and in stages which could take weeks even months to get the patient completely off the drug. This steroid medication can cause what is known as “steroid acne” in some people. Acne breakouts may appear as trivial to some people but it really can wreck one’s self-image especially when their face is covered in red blotches of acne. We all want to get flare-ups under control as soon as possible.

Side Effects of Prednisone

Side Effects of Prednisone

Some of the side effects can really bother the people taking this drug. They can have eye problems be moody, and have anxiety attacks. It is recommended that anyone who is taking prednisone should get off it as soon as they can. The hungry and moody side effects are temporary but the eye problems are long-lasting. One very serious side effect of prednisone is it causes glaucoma in patients who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease and this eye disease can lead to permanent eye disease even blindness. It happens when patients take prednisone for a long time. This is a very serious side effect. And it is a permanent side effect. Other side effects of this steroid drug are steroid acne, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of sleep and sweating.


Symptoms of a Skin Infection

Steroid acne is a definite side effect of prednisone and it can happen in adults as well as adolescents. It is a known fact that acne can happen to anyone taking steroids no matter what their age is. But is more common in a teen than adults. The acne may show up on the face, chest, or back. Steroid acne so named because of its source a steroid pill. Acne can be treated while the patient is still taking the prednisone but the acne will stay on the body until the prednisone is stopped. Once the drug is tapered down and finally stopped then and only then will the acne begin to disappear.

Acne Vulgaris a very technical name for common acne. This a type of acne that shows up in conjunction with prednisone therapy. It is no comfort to people who are infected by it. It shows up in uniform lesions usually on the neck and face. It is stressful having lesions of acne anywhere on the body but especially on the face. You cannot hide it when it is on your face. But take comfort in the fact that it can be treated while a person is still taking the steroid.

Malassezia (pityrosporum) folliculitis is a type of unusual ace that starts in the hair follicle with yeast. Everyone has this yeast this is normal. But what is not normal is when the yeast overgrows and causes the acne. It usually occurs in the hair and on the trunk. It may flare up more severely on other body parts. It causes major itching.It can be treated with a good antifungal hair shampoo. It can also be treated with antifungal topical cleansers.

The treatments for the acne depend on certain factors such as the type of acne and what other medications are being taken by the patient. The severity of the case is taken into consideration as well. People with inflammatory bowel disease and are taking prednisone will not be given accutane because in rare cases it can cause rectal bleeding and diarrhea in these patients with inflammatory bowel disease. A better option is topical cleansers and anti-acne agents such as benzoyl peroxide. Oral antibiotics and antifungals are another choices of treatment. These are usually used in the first line of defense to treat acne.

Prednisone treats anti-inflammatory diseases such as asthma, arthritis maybe multiple sclerosis. It also fights overactive immune systems. If the immune system is too overactive then the patient may be treated with prednisone. Prednisone will calm the overactive system down because the immune system will not look at the steroid as a threat. The problem is that the steroid will weaken the immune system to the point that it will not be able to effectively fight diseases or infections. One of those infections is caused by acne carrying bacteria. The bacteria attack the body and the immune system ie powered to fight it. The result acne proliferation on different parts of the body.

There are other factors that prednisone can cause in the body to produce acne. It can act like the natural steroids in the human body and cause excess serum oil production which in turn will clog pores which can cause acne. It will raise the body temperature which causes increased production of sweat. If we sweat more than we are vulnerable to develop acne.

Acne Treatments

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It has been mentioned that prednisone can increase oil production leading to acne production. One way to deter this is to keep your face washed and cleansed continually.

If you are a female suffering from prednisone induced acne you can reduce the likelihood of acne. You can use water-based moisturizers that will not encourage excessive sebum oil production.

If you wear makeup or sunscreen thoroughly cleanse your face after removing either. Keeping your skin thoroughly cleansed will go a long way in keeping acne at bay. You may want to do a double washing from time to time like after a heavy workout. Don’t wash your face too many time at any washing session. You can make your skin irritated and dry and this could eventually result in acne manifestation.

You may want to consider increasing the zinc levels in your body. Zinc supplements will fill the shortage in your body. Low levels of zinc in the body have been linked to acne breakouts.

This is an obvious one but never let excessive sweat accumulate and sit on your face. The sweat can clog pores and invite acne to develop. By encouraging bacterial growth.

Talk with a health expert about acne option treatments. He may be able to suggest some you did not think about. If this is not contrary to your health you can try benzoyl peroxide to reduce the risk of acne flare-ups.

Remember you do not have to stop the prednisone therapy (you would be better off if you did though) because of acne. You can consult with your doctor to complement the steroid therapy with acne treatment. Never stop prednisone on your own. As it was mentioned before the steroid has to be stopped in a gradual and controlled reduction of the dosage amount. This is because the body needs to restore itself to the normal functions to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Talk with your doctor if the acne gets to be too severe for you.

The doctor may be able to prescribe other treatments and medication to fight the acne. He may refer you to a dermatologist who can give you a whole array of acne treatment options.

Real Life Acne Experiences from Prednisone

Real Life Acne Experiences from Prednisone   

The first review came from a person who took prednisone for about four months. They quit taking it on their own it sounded like and stopped abruptly. You should only quit this steroid under the supervision of your doctor. Anyway, after they stopped they developed deep cystic acne under the surface of their skin. It appeared on the chin and the bridge of the noes. The person said it was very painful and it would not go away. It kept coming back and they connected the outbreak to prednisone.

Another user experienced the same thing.They stopped prednisone and started breaking out with acne. This was still occurring even after they stop taking the prednisone 2 months earlier. Their skin is now damaged and they still have minor breakouts of steroid acne. Another case of prednisone activated acne. It sounded like their skin is permanently scarred or damaged.

Another user complained about the same thing. Only this user took prednisone for two years and quit taking it. A short time after they stopped the drug they noticed a bump underneath the skin. Then they started breaking out in red blotches of acne. The bump underneath the skin sounds like cystic acne. They were wondering how to break out in acne after stopping the medication? This is a very good question. They made another valid point you are supposed to break out in acne while using the drug not when you stop using it.

Another user only used the steroid for three weeks and now after a month, they are having severe acne. What is wrong with this picture?

It’s curious to note if one of the side effects listed for this steroid is breaking out in acne after you stop using it? If not it should because then people might think twice about using it in the first place.

Yet another user who had been taking prednisone off and on for three years noticed they developed acne as soon as they stopped taking the medication. It sounded like this was every time they stopped it the acne breakouts would start. But on a positive note they said for them personally it took a month for their body to normalize after stopping the steroid.

This user said they broke out in acne while she used prednisone. The acne would appear on the surface of the skin and underneath the skin. Apparently, it was severe enough they lowered her dose of the steroid drug. This person said they actually broke out with acne while using the drug. The acne was relentless and would not go away. They had to prescribe an acne medication for her.

This is an odd twist because this fifth grade teacher took prednisone for 3 months the first time and they had no acne breakout. Her face stayed as clear as could be. She had no breakouts after the first round of use either. So, she takes the drug again and this time either she broke out during the time she was taking the medication after she stopped. What is with this?

Another user reporting the same thing acne breakouts after using this steroid drug. But they started taking vitamin C and it cleared up the acne effectively. She gets cystic acne that takes a long time to heal. At the time of the writing, she still had damaged skin from acne.

A college student from Canada who was 21 years old. Reported acne breakout from the steroid drug. She said she also had really dry skin and it itches very badly in two different areas of the body.

Sadly this user took prednisone for a long time and developed a severe acne problem. So severe it left her skin scarred and pitted. This is an extremely hard side effect to suffer from this steroid drug. To have to scar and pitting from steroid induced acne.

Another user using prednisone had to scar from acne after quitting the drug.

There seems to be a pattern in these thread of comments. The pattern is that you can back out in some severe cases of acne after you stop using it. It definitely causes acne while you are using it.

The acne breakouts were not light little red patches here or there. They were not cases of one or two pimples showing up randomly every couple of weeks either. They were under the surface type acne and severe red blotches on the skin.

One user said they had boils on top of red blotches with liquid inside of them. The doctors never saw an acne reaction like this before to taking prednisone. This is a very severe case of acne breakout. Many users also said they experienced scarring from the acne. Another used the term “pitting”. Pitting goes beyond just leaving scars on your face. Pitting leaves holes in your face and it is very disturbing to the person who has to pit.

There is a clear indication that this steroid drug will cause severe acne reactions while a person takes it. The troubling thing is now it seems it will produce severe acne after a person stops using it. Usually, The side effects occur while the person is taking the medication The side effects are not supposed to happen after the medication is stopped.

This drug is a dangerous drug to be prescribed. Yes, it may help with inflammatory issues and immune system issues. But is it worth taking the chance of getting glaucoma from taking this medication? If a person develops this eye disease they will either lose some of their sight or all of it. This is a very severe side effect.

True acne is a minor side effect but still, it can be very troubling to the person who suffers with it. No One likes to have a face full of acne especially when you are an adult. It is much worse for teenagers. Another negative if a not traumatic point is some of the one left pitting and scarring on the people’s faces who took this drug.

One person who had scarring had to use industrial strength makeup to cover her scars. This is pretty drastic of a measure to have to take. The scarring resulted from the steroid-driven acne. This drug like it was mentioned before may do a lot of good in treating various health issues. But it sure has some damaging side effects as well.

There is something really wrong with medication that can possibly leave a person blind from glaucoma. And for people to consistently report bad breakouts of acne after stopping the drug is not normal.

Testosterone and Life Changes


We found out that definitely, prednisone will cause acne while it is being used. What was not a front and center fact was that it causes acne breakouts after the person stops using it. There were too many reviews of reporting the same symptoms of acne breakout after the patients stopped using prednisone. For this to be a trumped upside effect. It really seems better than a person should never take this drug in the first place. It can cause glaucoma as a side effect. They were not kidding when they said this drug can have some adverse effects on people.This is one dangerous steroid.

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.