Does Creatine Cause Acne?
Supplements are the leading group of products purchased in the fitness world. Even if a gym go-er is “average” or if they’re a seasoned bodybuilder, everyone uses supplements these days. A newbie will gladly purchase supplements over something that costs just as much, such as a few days a week with a personal trainer.
A big reason for this is the perception that supplements give you gains or help you lose body fat overnight or within days. A personal trainer trains you for weeks and you probably won’t start to see results until months later (but your results will be incredible with the right trainer).
This isn’t to say supplements aren’t effective.
In fact, if you take the right supplements you really can see some changes within a few days. Supplements like branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), whey protein powder, and various vitamins have all been studied and tested by time as effective products. Number one among the truly useful supplements is creatine.
Creatine is one of the most studied supplements ever. It’s been used by bodybuilders for years also, which only helps build up the scientific evidence.
Unfortunately, not many people do the research required for something they willingly put into their bodies. This causes a lot of misconceptions about products that may or may not be true.
Creatine is one of those supplements. People who take it and people who don’t sometimes talk about creatine as if it were an anabolic steroid. Although it’s a great supplement, it’s often the source of exaggeration.
One frequently asked question is:
Does Creatine Cause Acne?
This is a good and common question we will answer soon. First, take a look at what “creatine” really is, and where it falls among supplemental effects.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance found in humans and other animals.
When taken as a supplement, it’s usually taken in the form of creatine monohydrate or creatine HCI. It is very similar acting to amino acids. When taken in supplemental form it’s converted to energy to either be used by your muscles, organs, and brain, or stored for future energy use.
The main difference between the different forms of creatine range from being quicker and easier to digest, to simply being a cheaper form of creatine (tip: if you’re buying creatine never buy creatine ethyl ester. Stick with creatine monohydrate or creatine HCI).
Although it’s a naturally occurring organic substance, many take it in supplement form for added benefits.
Different Ways to Take Creatine
The most commonly used and researched form of creatine is called creatine monohydrate.
As said before, creatine is created naturally in the human body. The kidneys and liver primarily make the creatine found in your body. Since you can find it in the human body, it makes sense you can find creatine in food too. Meat and fish are great sources of creatine in food.
When it comes to a supplement version, you have a few options. The most common is a powder form. The powder is typically the most affordable because it’s such a large quantity. It tends to mix well in shakes and smoothies.
Next most commonly used would be in a pill form (which has the powder in it too).
Then there’s liquid creatine as well. But this isn’t as common and tends to be more expensive than the powder or capsule forms.
Why Would You Take Creatine As a Supplement?
Creatine is one of the most commonly used supplements around. But do you know what benefits it actually gives you?
For starters, creatine will:
- Improves overall strength
- Stronger blood flow
- Increases muscle mass
- Increases bone density
In addition, creatine has been shown to help improve cognitive functions (thinking, reasoning, high-level cognitive functions).
These effects are a bodybuilder’s dream. Creatine helps you power through tough workouts by reducing muscle fatigue and supplying your muscles with plenty of oxygen thanks to increased blood flow.
Increased strength obviously transfers to heavier weights being used.
The improved blood flow is actually a big component to making all the other effects happen. Without a stronger flow of blood, your muscles wouldn’t get a bigger pump or get the oxygen needed for heavier sets. The nutrients and vitamins that help make your muscles bigger and stronger are all thrown in to your muscles at an improved rate.
As for improving your brain functions, creatine is shown to also help prevent the development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.
Does Creatine Really Cause You To Develop Acne
Now, onto the question you’ve all been waiting for:
Does creatine cause acne?
The simple answer is both No, and Maybe. In a way, creatine can cause acne indirectly.
Creatine does cause your hormones to increase and fluctuate. So, if you’re prone to acne genetically the change in your hormones could cause adverse reactions like acne development.
Otherwise, using creatine is actually very safe. Creatine has one of the highest safety levels of a supplement, and tons of research in scientific studies to back up the information. The worst side effect of creatine (aside from possible acne formation in acne prone people) is possible stomach bloating and the accompanying abdominal pain. This is easy to avoid by properly mixing the creatine and not taking too much at one time.
Science Behind Creatine and Acne
The studies behind creatine have shown the supplement to increase the levels of certain hormones in your body. These hormones will sound pretty familiar:
- Insulin-like growth factor (or IGF-1).
- Dihydrotestosterone (or DHT)
Numerous institutions such as the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, and the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found long-term (over four weeks) creatine consumption increased each of these hormone levels significantly.
Testosterone and IGF-1 for example, were both increased by a little over 20% over 10 and 8 weeks periods of daily creatine consumption, respectively.
An increase in DHT was seen in a three week long study on creatine consumption.
What’s interesting to keep in mind is these hormones are all directly linked to acne formation.
Think about puberty. For young men during puberty their various hormones fluctuate, and acne is very common because of the hormone activity.
If you think you’re developing acne due to creatine supplementation, you should first ask yourself if you’ve always been prone to acne breakouts, and if not, see if these other common acne builders are something you have in your lifestyle.
Other Ways You Might Really Develop Acne on Your Skin
Acne as many causes you should be aware of. Especially as an active individual, it’s easy to see acne pop up on your skin.
The following are some ways you might really develop acne on your skin, when you might be blaming creatine:
- Sugars in your diet: whether it’s sports drinks, soft drinks, or alcohol, a lot of people who would consider themselves “in shape” consume a lot of sugar every day. Sugar is a leading cause of acne. This is because sugar is a primary food source of acne-causing bacteria.
- Dehydration: Creatine can cause minor dehydration if you aren’t drinking enough water when supplementing with it. The dehydration combined with dry skin is a combination that causes acne to form.
- Sweat from working out: Leaving sweat on your body is a major way to develop acne. Most people don’t shower as soon as they’re done working out. The sweat and dirt from daily life make the skin dry and chafe, which allows bacteria to enter and create acne as a result.
Some additional causes could be other dietary issues, such as too much red meat or dairy. Other reasons could be too much stress and not enough rest from working out and just living your daily life.
Reevaluate Your Body
A great way to prevent acne caused by creatine or otherwise is by becoming more aware of your body. Begin to track what you eat, how your workouts go, and all the supplements you take. Track the days you take creatine and compare how your skin reacts to the days you don’t take any creatine at all. It may take a while for any results to change, but you might figure out your skin faster this way.
Some Tips To Preventing Acne Breakouts Caused By Working Out
To help calm down any fears of acne you might have, here are some tips to prevent or get rid of acne along with your fears:
- Monitor what you eat and drink: What we put into our bodies should always be the first thing you consider when attempting to figure out a health concern like acne. Maybe you need to stop eating a certain food or drink (like alcohol), or at least severely limit said food and drink to special occasions.
- Cut back on the caffeine and alcohol: alcohol and caffeine dehydrate your body. A better alternative is limiting your alcohol use, and decaffeinated or low caffeine beverages.
- Experiment with supplement dose: Creatine is very safe to take in higher doses, even though the benefits won’t really increase by doing so. But, sometimes the recommended dose is too high and is sending your body into chaos. Change it up and see what happens.
- Stay hydrated: Everyone should be doing this anyway, but by staying hydrated you make sure your body is getting all the good nutrients it needs to function.
- Shower as soon as you can after the gym: If you have a long way to drive home after the gym use the locker room shower if available. You will get clean faster and not have to sit in smelly, sweaty clothes that allow bacteria to breed.
- Relax more: do things that make you happy and get more sleep. Decreasing the amount of stress in your life is an easy fix that might help get rid of your acne for good.
Try out a few of these tips and see if your acne situation improves. If you’re looking for the best prevention, these methods work great too.
Proper Dose for Creatine
The best doses for creatine depend on your gender and body size. Men are recommended to take 5-10g a day, and women can take up to 2-5g a day. Of course, you can take more and see if it works for you. But, those are the optimal doses.
Most importantly, ALWAYS drink a lot of water with your creatine. This not only keeps you hydrated and better absorbs the creatine, but you will reduce the chance of abdominal bloating and pain.
Does creatine cause acne? It could possibly if you break out in acne easily. For most people, creatine is a very safe and relatively side-effect free supplement.
It’s also extremely effective at increasing strength and muscle mass, among other great benefits.
When taken in safe amounts creatine is awesome at giving you these benefits.
At the end of the day, it will be difficult to find a better supplement that gives these awesome benefits with so little downside. Always do your research. Consult a trusted medical professional before trying any new supplements.
If you liked this article, check out our other articles on creatine.
Here’s one article on one of the best forms of creatine: creatine monohydrate and its benefits as a supplement by itself and compared to other forms of creatine.
Another article here is a primer on creatine loading, which can help supercharge your gains.
Alex Rogers is a supplement manufacturing expert. He has been formulating, consulting, & manufacturing dietary supplements since 1998. Alex invented protein customization in 1998 & was the first company to allow consumers to create their own protein blends. He helped create the first supplement to contain natural follistatin, invented whey protein with egg lecithin, & recently imported the world’s first 100% hydrolyzed whey.