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Which Birth Control Pill Helps Acne
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Birth Control Cleared My Acne
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This article was medically reviewed by Olivia P. Myrick, MD, clinical assistant professor with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone.
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When topical acne treatments fail, birth control is an option that can be effective for many acne sufferers.
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“Doctors have been prescribing birth control as a treatment for hormonal acne for years,” says Lavanya Krishnan, MD, FAAD, of Arya Derm in San Francisco. “This is one of the standard treatment options for patients with hormonal acne”.
A common cause of acne, especially for teenagers, is an imbalance of androgens. Androgens are a type of hormone that both men and women have, but some people can produce large amounts. A side effect of this is an increase in sebum, the type of oil that your skin produces.
Excess sebum can clog your pores, causing breakouts. That’s where birth control can help. Hormonal birth control regulates hormones in a way that reduces the production of androgens, thus reducing the production of sebum, and hopefully acne.
However, not all birth control pills are created equal when it comes to fighting acne. Although other pills can help, the FDA has approved only three types to treat acne: Yaz, Estrostep, and Orth-Tri-Cyclen. These three are prescribed for the type of hormones they contain:
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While these three types of birth control are most commonly prescribed for acne, doctors may prescribe other types that can also be used for some patients.
“Most birth control pills have an estrogen and progesterone component, and the type of estrogen and especially progesterone can vary greatly depending on the pill,” says Krishnan. “Every patient is very different and responds to various birth control options in different ways.”
Taking birth control is not without risk, and several factors must be considered. After your doctor decides that you are a good candidate for birth control, you will have to decide if the possibility of clear skin is worth the side effects and potential risks.
“Patients who do not have a personal or family history of clotting disorders or blood clots, are classified in a healthy BMI, do not smoke and are under the age of 35 are the best candidates,” he says Krishnan. “If side effects such as weight gain and mood changes are a concern, choosing an option that contains a little less of the estrogen component makes sense.”
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Also, birth control is not a surefire way to get rid of acne. It is possible that birth control can make your acne worse. And sometimes, your skin gets worse before it gets better when you start the pill.
The FDA has approved only three types of birth control to treat acne: Yaz, Estrostep, and Orth-Tri-Cyclen. But the doctor can write other types of prescriptions.
Unfortunately, it takes some work to find the right pill that will make your acne better with little or no side effects. There is no way to predict what will or will not work for you.
Ashley Laderer is a freelance writer from New York specializing in health and wellness. Follow her on Twitter @ashladere Although there are many types of acne with various causes, hormonal acne most often affects mature women. For some, taking birth control pills can help.
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Hormonal acne develops due to changes in the release of specific hormones, with the increase of androgens, such as testosterone, often responsible for this skin condition.
Women with hormonal acne may find that conventional acne treatments are ineffective. In this case, correcting the hormonal imbalance can clear up the breakouts. Birth control pills are medications that can help with this, and doctors often prescribe them to treat hormonal acne.
In this article, we provide answers to some of the most common questions about taking birth control pills for acne, including how birth control works to control acne, its effectiveness, and who can use it.
In a word, yes. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has specifically approved some forms of birth control pills to treat acne.
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Birth control pills are most appropriate when traditional and over-the-counter options have proven unsuccessful in managing acne. These options include cleansers, creams, and spot treatments.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that women with stubborn acne along the lower face, jawline, neck, chest and back may be particularly good candidates for hormonal treatment, especially if other treatments, such as topical or antibiotics, are unsuccessful.
Acne occurs as a result of several factors related to hormonal imbalance, including overproduction of natural oils called sebum in the skin and accumulation of dead skin cells in the hair follicles or pores.
In addition, some women have abnormally high levels of androgens, such as testosterone. High levels of androgens can stimulate sebum production and increase skin cell growth in both the skin and hair follicles.
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Many types of birth control pills are available, but the most effective type for acne is the combined pill, which contains forms of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Birth control pills work when a person takes them at the same time every day and as prescribed by the prescription. Sometimes, birth control pills are more effective in combination with other medications.
Different birth control pills contain different forms and concentrations of hormones, so it can be difficult to know which type of pill is most effective in treating acne.
A large-scale study by the Cochrane Collaboration offers some answers. This collaboration is an extensive network of thousands of physicians, researchers, and specialists who review available research to answer specific medical or clinical questions.
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In 2012, they reviewed the research on birth control pills as a treatment for acne. The team looked at a total of 31 studies that included 12,579 people.
The authors concluded that combined oral contraceptives containing chlormadinone acetate (CMA) or cyproterone acetate (CPA) appear to improve acne significantly more than those containing levonorgestrel (LNG). In addition, they suggested that birth control pills containing drospirenone (DRSP) may be more effective than those with norgestimate (NGM) or nomegestrol acetate (NOMAC / E2).
However, they state that there is limited evidence to confirm these results and that more research is needed.
Birth control pills are generally safe. However, side effects are common, and can range from mild to severe.
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The side effects should decrease or disappear completely after a few months of taking the pill. If not, and they are particularly annoying, it is important to talk to a doctor. The doctor may recommend that you switch to another pill.
Certain groups of people are more likely to experience side effects, so the pill is not suitable for everyone. For example, experts have linked taking the pill to serious health conditions in people with a history of migraines and auras. These conditions include blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and liver tumors.
Anyone experiencing any of the following should go to the nearest emergency room or contact a doctor immediately:
These signs and symptoms may be serious side effects of the pill that require immediate medical attention. It is best to check with your doctor about any health problems or changes after you start taking the pill.
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Stubborn acne can be frustrating, especially when treatments have not proven successful. Some women may find that birth control pills are effective in treating hormonal acne.
Although most people tolerate the pill, it may not be suitable for everyone. It is important to report any unusual side effects and always follow the instructions provided.
Medical News Today has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations. We do not use tertiary referrals. We combine primary sources – including studies, scientific references, and statistics – in each article and list them in the resources section below our article. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy. Pimples. A plague Spots. Whatever term you use to describe those persistent, painful bumps on your face or body, one fact remains: Acne is a common problem for many people—as many as 50 million Americans—well beyond the years of adolescence. According to a study published in
, adult acne
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