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Acne Is Not Always A Fair Game For Men

As usual, when it comes to the information about the skin and hair, there just aren’t many full articles dedicated to men. Acne is just as prevalent in adolescent males as females1. As adults though, more women tend to get acne than men. But that doesn’t mean men don’t suffer the same issues and heartache as women do in regards to this condition. There are sometimes different reasons men get acne and there are different types of treatments for them as well.

Man Squeezing Pimple
Men can get acne too.

A Man’s Take On Acne Treatment

As a man, acne is embarrassing and troublesome2. From personal relationships to personal care, acne get’s in the way. Men don’t usually wear makeup to cover blemishes or hide discolorations, so this isn’t a mainstream option for them. Scarring caused by adolescent acne is, most times, more severe in males and scarring becomes even more prominent with age.

So how can a man cover this? Men are typically not interested3 in taking the time to worry with cleanser and moisturizers, opting for shampoo, body wash and even bar soaps for their facial skin cleansing routines. However, men who shave tend to have smoother, softer and even healthier skin on the chin, cheeks and jawline than even women. That’s because shaving is exfoliating and some men do that daily! Shaving becomes a whole different ballgame when acne is present though4. The list of difference could go on and on but let’s take a look at what can cause acne for men that probably isn’t a factor in womens acne.

Types Of Acne Seen In Men

Of course, acne requires great hygiene5, a healthy diet and a lifestyle of overall healthy choices such as exercise and routine sleep schedule. With all that in place, men still can start to see acne well into there 30’s. Why is that?


Some people are literally genetically predisposed to acne. In the case of males, this disposition can mean disaster6. There’s pretty much nothing that can be done to prevent it. It might be mild. It might be cystic. No matter what though, it will be.

So why is it inevitable that men who carry this in their genes will develop some sort of acne? The simple answer is, well, because they’re male. The more definitive reason is because men have a hormone7 called dihydrotestosterone or DHT. When the sebaceous glands that make oil to keep our skin moist and protected come in contact with DHT they overproduce oil. This in turn creates an environment ripe for bacteria, which everyone has on their skin, to reproduce and thus become an infection8. These infections are called whiteheads. And there it is, acne. Hormonal acne.

Steroid Use

Another type of acne that is much more common among men is acne caused by the use of anabolic steroids9. These steroids are the kind use for strength and speed. Although mild to moderate acne can be seen in both men and women who use a prescribed systemic steroid10 for one or more of many ailments, acne caused by metabolic steroids is usually cystic and leaves behind deep scars and discolorations. Metabolic steroids imbalance the hormones , and among the many reversible and irreversible conditions, acne can be treated but often leaves behind the scars forever.

Folliculitis: Not Really Acne, But Worth Taking A Look At

Folliculitis is not acne11, but it creates the same effects as acne. Bacteria gathers in open pores and creates whiteheads and cysts. Unlike acne however, this is totally preventable by just adjusting how close a man is shaving. Too close of a shave will remove too many of the outer layers of the skin and leave pores unprotected. This causes ingrown hairs which also tend to get infected. Treating folliculitis like acne will help in healing but if the close shaving continues, so will the infections of the pores.

Skin Care-less

Sometimes men get acne because they’re just not taking proper care of their skin and they don’t even know it. If a males has a condition that causes dead skin cells to block pores or a job that that is in a very dirty or closed environment, more attention must be paid to skin care. Not aware that their face wash routine isn’t as effective as they think it is or even not being aware of the existence of a whole other skin disorder can lead to the problem of late and long term acne. This too is a simple fix but one has to be aware of the fact that something is wrong before it can be made right.


The best treatments for men with acne12 are of course to get to the root of the problem13 first. Once this is established, help isn’t far off. From male specific skin care lines and spot treatments to visits to the dermatologist now and then to pick up a prescription for a topical treatment, some acne treatments are quick and easy.

On the other hand, those with moderate to severe acne may need to integrate a light therapy in with their skin care products, look into Proactive reviews or see an esthetician for extracting blackheads. Men with deep scarring may consider laser therapy and besides, lasers are cool so why not have one used on your face! Of course, if buying things from the drugstore or shining light in your face for 20 minutes isn’t really his style, there’s always the option of at home remedies as well. There are tons of recipes online that address acne and it’s many effects.

The fact is, men today want options and there are options for them. It can be harder to find those options but they are out there. Call a local spa or massage clinic for advice. Talk to a barber about skin concerns. Surf the net and see what’s out there for men’s products, just don’t give up!


  1. Skroza N, Tolino E, Mambrin A, Zuber S, Balduzzi V, Marchesiello A, Bernardini N, Proietti I, Potenza C. Adult Acne Versus Adolescent Acne: A Retrospective Study of 1,167 Patients. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018 Jan;11(1):21-25.
  2. Isaacsson VC, Almeida HL Jr, Duquia RP, Breunig Jde A, Souza PR. Dissatisfaction and acne vulgaris in male adolescents and associated factors. An Bras Dermatol. 2014 Jul-Aug;89(4):576-9
  3. Rocha MA, Bagatin E. Adult-onset acne: prevalence, impact, and management challenges. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 Feb 1;11:59-69.
  4. Cowley K, Vanoosthuyze K. Insights into shaving and its impact on skin. Br J Dermatol. 2012 Mar;166 Suppl 1:6-12.
  5. Duquia RP, de Almeida HL Jr, Breunig JA, Souzat PR, Göellner CD. Most common patterns of acne in male adolescents: a population-based study. Int J Dermatol. 2013 May;52(5):550-3
  6. Elsaie ML. Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016 Sep 2;9:241-8.
  7. Shaw JC. Acne: effect of hormones on pathogenesis and management. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2002;3(8):571-8.
  8. Dekkers OM, Thio BH, Romijn JA, Smit JW. Acne vulgaris: endocrine aspects. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2006 Jun 10;150(23):1281-5.
  9. Kraus SL, Emmert S, Schön MP, Haenssle HA. The dark side of beauty: acne fulminans induced by anabolic steroids in a male bodybuilder. Arch Dermatol. 2012 Oct;148(10):1210-2.
  10. Motosko CC, Zakhem GA, Pomeranz MK, Hazen A. Acne: a side-effect of masculinizing hormonal therapy in transgender patients. Br J Dermatol. 2019 Jan;180(1):26-30. doi: 10.1111/bjd.17083. Epub 2018 Oct 14.
  11. Sun KL, Chang JM. Special types of folliculitis which should be differentiated from acne. Dermatoendocrinol. 2017 Sep 27;9(1):e1356519.
  12. McCarty M. Evaluation and Management of Refractory Acne Vulgaris in Adolescent and Adult Men. Dermatol Clin. 2016 Apr;34(2):203-6.
  13. Elsaie ML. Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016 Sep 2;9:241-8
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