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Can Steroids Cause Rashes? (According to a Doctor)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 30, 2022

As a personal trainer, I often work with clients who either take prescribed steroid medication or they have resorted to taking steroids as a performance enhancer.

And while I don’t recommend that anyone take steroids without discussing it with a doctor first, I did have an interesting conversation with a physician recently about the side effects of different types of steroids.

It turns out that rashes can be common, but the surprising thing was how they might happen.

So, I decided to research some medical literature with a doctor to see what might be happening and how to deal with it.

Quick Summary

  • One of the most common side effects of oral, injected, and topical steroids are some form of a rash that can develop at different stages.
  • Doctors monitor for such rashes as they can be an early sign of other possible side effects or allergic reactions that might get worse.
  • Looking at where and when such rashes happen is vital to understanding how to deal with them.

Do Steroids Cause Rashes?

A person injecting steroids into a buff male

Yes, steroids can cause rashes, and they are a very common side effect. In fact, scientific studies have shown that some form of skin rash is the second most reported side effect of many different steroids [1].

But there are two ways this can happen.

Firstly, corticosteroid tablets like Prednisone have a rash as a known side effect [2].

This can happen almost immediately or with a delay of a few days or weeks.

But another common form of rash happens when people take topical steroids for a while and then go through a withdrawal phase [3].

This doesn’t seem to happen with oral or injected steroids as commonly, but you need to be aware of the different types of rashes depending on the type of steroid application.

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What Does a Steroid Rash Look Like?

A person scratching rashes

A steroid rash will typically look like reddening of the skin with the possibility of small bumps developing.

This can happen immediately or after a few weeks, and it’s important to look carefully for such signs [4].

Other studies have also found that predominantly topical steroids are the cause of rashes, and one in particular compared it to rosacea-like dermatitis [5].

What you would need to look out for is any combination of papules, pustules, and even inflamed blood vessels.

For oral steroids, it’s mainly Prednisone that has been known to cause rashes [6].

In most cases, these go away even during treatment, but it’s important to closely monitor any changes as it could be an early warning of more severe side effects. 

That’s why it’s always important to discuss these drugs with a medical doctor.

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What Can You Do When This Happens?

The first thing you need to do when you notice a steroid-related rash is talk to a medical doctor.

It may be the case that it’s a type of steroid withdrawal, as mentioned above, and in that case, it’s important not to start applying steroids again [7].

“Taking too much or stopping the steroids too quickly can cause rebound symptoms like burning, redness, and itchy skin.”

- ​​Stephanie S. Gardner, MD at WebMD.com

On the other hand, if a rash is the result of an oral, injectable, or topical steroid and becomes very severe, then it’s likely that a doctor will recommend a different treatment option.

FAQs

What Does an Allergic Reaction to Steroids Look Like?

An allergic reaction to steroids can look like a simple rash, nausea, or even muscle pain and vision problems. The list of side effects of different steroids is very long, and that’s why a steroid cycle should be monitored by medical professionals.

How Long Does It Take for a Steroid Rash to Go Away?

It usually takes about two to four weeks for a steroid rash and other side effects to go away [8]. This can vary from patient to patient, and it depends on other potential skin conditions and allergies.

Taking the Responsible Approach to Steroids

While steroid-related rashes are common, in most cases, they don’t tend to be severe.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore them or continue taking steroids without medical supervision.

The good news is that there are much better alternatives, and I would recommend that you consider taking only the best legal steroids on the market that is safe and natural.

These don’t contain any controlled substances and are generally based on minerals, vitamins, and herbs.

We’ve tested dozens of these products to come up with a list of those that actually work.

Try out one of these supplements and see how much of a difference it can make without any of the nasty side effects.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3936564/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/prednisone-oral-tablet
  3. https://www.buoyhealth.com/learn/topical-steroid-withdrawal#definition
  4. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/steroid-rosacea
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19445310/
  6. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/prednisone-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20075269?p=1
  7. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/topical-steroid-cream-withdrawal
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25592622/

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