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Birth Control Pills For Acne – Uses, Benefits & Side Effects


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Hormones are a tricky affair. They are responsible for all the amazing things that happen to your body and are the source of all the chaos too.

Men and women both produce estrogen and testosterone, and the production of these hormones vary all through your day. This is something you will have to make peace with, as this fluctuation lasts all your life.  That’s just not it! The body also sways along with the hormonal change, and overproduction of androgen, or sensitivity to androgen, can result in acne.

Nevertheless, the good news is our friendly hormone – estrogen can rescue us and help us inhibit hormonal acne. You cannot treat men with estrogen, but, for women, it is a different story altogether. Have you been prescribed birth control pills to treat acne and want to know if it will work for you? Read the following sections to know more.

How Does Birth Control Treat Acne?

If your body produces excess sebum, then this oil produced by the glands in your skin can clog your pores and contribute to the growth of bacteria, resulting in acne. And, production of this sebum is greatly influenced by androgens, as this stimulates your skin to produce more sebum.

Birth control pills contain estrogen and progesterone, which on consumption, lowers the amount of androgen in your body- The result being less sebum and hence less acne.

Also Read: Find The Best Dermatologist To Treat Pimples

Birth Control And Acne: What It Does To Your Skin?

  • Going “on the pill”
    Androgens are the main culprit behind severe acne, as they trigger excess production of sebum, which clogs pores and promotes breakouts. When you take birth control, like Yaz or Estrostep, it changes your skin drastically by regulating your hormones, which is crucial especially for young women who are still in the developing phase and getting used to their very first period.
    The pill contains estrogen and progestin, which override your body’s signals to ovulate, and consequently, lowers your body’s testosterone level, which to our benefit, can reduce acne.
    But, sometimes some pills backfire and cause flare-ups because of pseudo-testosterone effect, which can cause a surge in breakouts. Therefore, the rule of thumb is to wait for a few months before concluding if the birth control pills are a good/bad news for you and if your skin continues to retaliate, then talk to your dermatologist and try an alternative.
  • Going “off the pill”
    Staying on the pill your entire life isn’t a good deal for you for a plethora of reasons. Because tomorrow you might want to have kids or have had enough of the synthetic hormones. So what happens once you stop taking your pills?
    You must accept that birth control pills are not designed to cure acne and that it is a temporary treatment. Moreover, when you stop taking the pill, the acne is very likely to come back. In fact, post-pill acne is often worse than pre-pill acne and can be more challenging to avoid.
    After stopping the pills, your hormones will take time to regulate and normalize, and it could several months or even a few years before your hormones return to their pre-pill level. It is quite probable for your skin to break out into zits during this phase.

Also Read: How To Cure Acne – Treatments, Remedies & Tips

Types Of Birth Control Treat Acne In Women

  • Ortho Tri-Cycle uses estrogen in combination with a type of progestin that is called norgestimate (Progestin is an artificial form of progesterone).
    These pills come in different doses of progestin. According to a study in 1997, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology asserted that in a group of 247 women, 93.7% of women who consumed Ortho Tri-Cycle noticed improvements in their skin.
  • Estrostep uses estrogen in a combination with a progestin that is called norethindrone. You can find these pills with variance in the dosage level of estrogen. Other than preventing pregnancy, this pill also contributes to making your periods more regular and decreasing blood loss and painful periods.
  • YAZ uses estrogen combined with an artificial form of progestin that is called drospirenone. This pill not only is a measure to prevent pregnancy but it also treats moderate acne in women. Further, Yaz is also helpful in treating the symptoms of the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), such as anxiety, depression, irritability, trouble concentrating, lack of energy, sleep or appetite changes, breast tenderness, joint or muscle pain, headache, and weight gain.

Benefits Of Birth Control For Acne

According to a research on the effectiveness of contraceptive pills in the treatment of acne, it was found and concluded that all of the contraceptive pills can be used in reducing inflammatory and anti-inflammatory acne, as they all consisted of ethinylestradiol (a type of estrogen that is combined with other drugs).

Therefore, it is a fact that the hormones present in birth control pills can combat acne. Almost all kinds of contraceptive pills have proved to help your skin in its fight against acne, resulting in –

  • Decreased acne flare-ups
  • Fewer pimples
  • Less inflammation
  • Less severe acne

Also Read: Top Antibiotics For Treating Acne In India

Side Effects Of Birth Control Pills

Like all the medications available in the market, birth control pills have their own set of side effects, which are likely to fizzle off after two or three months.

The hormones in the pill have the power to change your level of sexual desire.  It is also probable that you experience bleeding between periods, sore breasts, headache, or nausea.

In general, birth control pills are not supposed to make you feel sick or uneasy, and occurrences of serious problems because of these pills are rare. But, if you continue to have side effects that are a hindrance to your day-to-day routine, then consult your dermatologist.

Birth Control For Acne – Results

Regulation of hormones is time taking, and hence it maybe three or four months before you actually see a difference in your skin. That is just the amount of time taken by the body to get accustomed to the medication and for it to impact the sebum production. Further, different women respond differently to the same kind of birth control pills.

It is also possible that these pills alone might not be sufficient in dealing with your acne, but an improvement in the condition is a given.  You may need to use skin creams or prescribed topical treatments along with the pill, to see an improvement in your skin.

Birth control pills that contain both progesterone and estrogen can help in dealing with acne and clearing up of the skin, although it is only after 3-4 months that the results are visible. Sometimes, you may need to combine these pills with topical treatments for the best result. But, keep in mind that these pills only offer a temporary solution, and you might end up getting back to your problem of zits once you are of these pills.

 

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About The Author

Kushneet Kukreja

Kushneet Kukreja

A postgraduate in Biotechnology from Kingston University and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition, Kushneet Kukreja is a passionate writer who works in close association with the dermatologists at our head office to generate valuable and scientifically accurate content for our blog.


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