Oral contraceptives, also referred to as birth control pills, are an effective treatment for acne in some women. Birth control pills are typically prescribed to women when their acne does not respond to other treatments or if they are in need of birth control anyways. While doctors have been using birth control pills for acne management as an off-label treatment for many years, today there are several oral contraceptives approved by the FDA to use as an acne treatment. These include birth control acne medications, such as Estrostep, Yaz, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen. For the best results, birth control pills, acne treatments and other procedures should be used in combination.
Birth Control for Acne Basics
Birth control pills for acne work by decreasing the amount of oil, known as sebum, which is created on your skin. Acne can occur due to the buildup of sebum and dead cells on your skin. Bacteria on the skin can also trigger inflammation and infection. Since birth control for acne only targets one cause of acne – excess sebum – it’s helpful to use a secondary acne product, such as a medicated cream containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
How Birth Control for Acne Works
Birth control pills are made up of a combination of estrogen and progestin. They have the ability to change the natural hormone patterns and reproductive cycle of a female. How does birth control help acne? Oral contraceptives use ethinyl etradoil as an estrogen ingredient, which reduces the amount of testosterone in the body. When testosterone is suppressed, hormone-based acne breakouts improve due to the reduction of oil in sebaceous glands.
Birth control for acne can also help women with polycystic ovarian syndrome PCOS, and the acne brought on by the condition. Certain birth control for acne, such as Yasmin and Yaz, contain a progesterone that can manage the amount of androgen hormones, thus limiting breakouts. Birth control acne pills can also help other symptoms associated with PCOS, including excessive hair growth. Use caution when selecting birth control pills for acne as some oral contraceptives may raise testosterone levels and make acne worsen. Consult your doctor if you wish to reduce breakouts so he or she can prescribe the best birth control pill for acne for your individual case.
How to Take Birth Control Pills for Acne
Birth control pills for acne should be taken daily, preferably at the same time each day. For most types of oral contraceptives, three weeks of “active” pills are taken by mouth, followed by one week of placebo pills which remind you to keep taking the birth control acne pills. During the week you take the placebo pills, you menstruation should occur. It can take up to three months to see any improvements in your acne after you begin taking birth control pills and acne may get worse before it gets better.
Best Birth Control Pill for Acne as an Adult
Does birth control help acne in adults? It can but it’s important to pinpoint the cause of acne to ensure that there are no underlying issues. Extra androgen production is one of the major causes of acne in adults and may make it difficult to manage your skin condition. There are several clues that your doctor can look for to help determine if your acne is caused by a hormonal issue.
- Acne that appears for the first time as an adult
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Acne breakouts that occur after your menstrual cycle
- Elevated amounts of androgens in your blood
- Hirsutism, or excessive hair growth or hair in unusual places
If any of the above applies to you, the reason for your acne may be due to a hormonal imbalance. Your doctor may recommend a course of hormone therapy. There are several different treatment options for women affected by hormone imbalance, including medications or specific treatment regimens. Consult your doctor to determine the best birth control pill for acne for your specific case.
Anti-androgens, Birth Control and Acne
In addition to your oral contraceptives, your doctor may have you take an anti-androgen medication. This type of drug manages androgen production in your adrenal glands and ovaries. Finding the best birth control for acne that works efficiently in addition to other medications can be tricky, and may require you to switch brands until you have found a combination that works with your birth control pills. Acne can be controlled by Spironolactone, a blood pressure medication, contains anti-androgenic properties that have been proven effective in clearing acne from the skin.
Corticosteroids, Birth Control and Acne
Finding the best birth control for acne takes time and may not work on its own. Birth control pills and acne medications can be used in combination with corticosteroids. Small injections of corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone and prednisone, can reduce inflammation and lower production of androgens. Birth control and acne medications have been proven highly effective when used with corticosteroids.
Birth Control Pills and Acne Tips
Does birth control help acne? It has been proven that oral contraceptives can be a tool for managing acne in some women. Finding the best birth control for acne is best left up to your doctor who will prescribe you an oral remedy, according to your past history and needs for birth control. It will take time for your skin to fully recover and heal after a troublesome bout of acne. With consistency and the proper treatment, you can achieve clear skin.