Acne in Bodybuilding: Causes, Prevention & Treatments

Bodybuilding is a famous sport that involves rigorous training, proper nutrition, and a commitment to achieving a well-sculpted physique. However, for some bodybuilders, acnes can be an unwanted side effect of their intense workouts and supplement regimen. In this blog, I will discover the causes of acne in bodybuilding, methods to prevent its occurrence, and helpful treatments to manage and alleviate acne in the bodybuilding community.

What is acne? 

Acne is the condition of the skin that occurs when hair follicles become obstructed with dead skin cells and with oil. It typically pops up as pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, or nodules on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders. Acne can range from mild to severe. It is mostly associated with adolescence, but it can affect people of all ages.

Types of acne. 

There are certain types of acne. Some of them are discussed below. 


These are small, flesh-colored or white bumps that form when pores are clogged with oil and dead skin cells, remaining beneath the surface of your skin.


Blackheads are the same as whiteheads, but the surface of the pore is open, which allows the clogged material to oxidize and turn black.


These are small-sized, red, raised bumps without any prominent center or pus. They usually happen when the walls around the pores break down because of inflammation.


Nodules are bigger, painful, solid lumps underneath your skin’s surface. They occur due to bacterial accumulation, oil, and dead skin cells deep within the skin pores.


Cysts are painful, pus-filled lumps that form deep within the skin. They are a chronic form of acne and could cause scarring if not treated in a proper way. 

The most common causes of acne in bodybuilders. 

Acne due to hormonal imbalance. 

One of the main reasons for acne in bodybuilders is the fluctuation in hormones that occur due to intense training. Weightlifting and exercise can enhance the levels of testosterone and other androgens, which may activate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, which may lead to clogged pores and acne.

Use of anabolic steroids. 

Some bodybuilders use anabolic steroids to increase muscle growth and performance. These synthetic hormones may significantly disorganize the hormonal balance in your body, which triggers severe acnes breakouts.

Skin friction and sweating. 

Bodybuilders often engage in intense exercise that may cause a lot of sweating. When sweat mixes with bacteria and dead skin cells, it can clog pores and contribute to the development of acne. Also, friction from tight workout attire and gym equipment can irritate the skin, which exacerbates acne.

Food and supplements. 

Various foods and dietary supplements may aggravate acne-prone skin. High-glycemic foods, dairy products, and whey protein supplements have been associated with acnes in some individuals. 

How To Prevent Acne in Body Building. 

Maintaining good hygiene. 

After your intense exercise session, take a shower regularly, to wash away sweat, dirt, and bacteria from your skin. Use a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser in order to prevent pore blockage.

Avoid touching your face. 

During your workout session, refrain from touching the face in order to minimize the transfer of sweat and bacteria from your hands to your skin.

Wearing appropriate clothes. 

Change out sweaty workout clothes after your exercise session and wash them after each use. Bacteria and sweat buildup on clothing are also major causes of body acne. Also, try to wear loose-fitted clothes to overcome friction and rubbing.  Breathable fabrics such as cotton help to reduce friction and irritation on the skin.

Exfoliate your skin regularly. 

Gently exfoliating your skin is helping in removing dead skin cells. Try to use an exfoliating scrub or any other product with salicylic acid once or twice a week.

Focus on a healthy diet. 

Some studies revealed that a diet high in processed foods and dairy may contribute to the formation of acne. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods is beneficial for your skin. Also, drinking enough water helps to keep your skin hydrated and can aid in preventing your acne.

Consult a dermatologist. 

If you have persistent acne or acnes that is severe, consider consulting your dermatologist. They can also help to provide you with advice and, if necessary, prescribe treatments such as topical or oral medications.

Remember that everyone’s skin is different, and what works for one individual may not work for another. so be patient and consistent with your skincare routine, and if you observe any sort of adverse reactions or worsening of acne, seek professional advice.

Manage your stress level. 

Increased levels of stress can trigger hormonal fluctuations. Incorporate stress-reducing practices such as meditation or yoga into your daily workout routine.

Treatment Of Acne 

Topical treatment. 

Over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription acne creams which contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can help to unclog pores and overcome inflammation.

Intake of oral medications. 

In severe acne cases, a dermatologist would prescribe oral antibiotics or other medications for controlling acne. Antibiotics such as tetracycline or doxycycline can help in controlling the bacteria that contribute to acne. Oral contraceptives may be prescribed for female bodybuilders in order to regulate the hormonal fluctuations that trigger acne. Isotretinoin, a potent oral retinoid, is reserved for severe, persistent acnes that gives no response to other treatments.

Chemical peeling process. 

Chemical peels involve applying a solution to the skin for exfoliating the top layer, promoting the growth of new, and healthier skin. They can also help to improve acne-prone skin by reducing pore blockages and improving your skin texture.

Avoid Squeezing or Popping. 

Picking at acnes lesions can make the inflammation worse and could lead to scarring. so, try to avoid squeezing or popping pimples.

Cortisone injection administration. 

For bigger, painful cystic acnes lesions, cortisone injections can be administered to reduce inflammation, and soreness and also help to promote healing.

Bottom line. 

Remember that while these treatments could be effective in managing acne, results may vary depending on the individual’s skin type, the intensity of acne, and other underlying factors. Along with that, consistency and patience are key when it comes to acnes treatment. Because it may take several weeks to see noteworthy improvements.