Contraceptive Pills To Treat Acne

For women, acne, especially if it is severe, can lead to embarrassment, anxiety, social isolation, and permanent skin scarring.

Acne and hormonal imbalance
There is a clear relationship between hormones and acne. Some women experience premenstrual flare-ups of acne as their hormone levels shift during their cycle. For others, acne simply persists through the years, even after menopause.

Acne is triggered by an excess production of sebum, which is an oil made by glands in your skin. Along with skin cells, sebum can clog pores and promote the growth of bacteria that contribute to acne. Androgens, a group of hormones that includes testosterone, stimulate your skin to produce sebum. A woman’s ovaries and adrenal glands normally produce a low level of androgens. Higher levels of androgens can lead to excess sebum.

How do contraceptives treat acne?
Dermatologists have been prescribing birth control pills to treat acne in women for decades. In general, birth control to treat acne is often advised for healthy women who also need contraception. It is typically started after other acne treatments, such as topical creams and oral antibiotics, have failed to clear up the skin. Taking birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progesterone lowers the level of androgens in your body. This results in less sebum and less severe acne.

Three types of birth control pills have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for acne treatment. All three are “combination” oral contraceptives that contain both estrogen and progesterone; birth control pills that contain only progesterone can actually make acne worse. Each type of birth control pill used for acne contains a low dose of the same form of estrogen. But each one uses a different form of progesterone.

Contraceptives treat mild to severe acne
The three oral contraceptives have been approved for treating moderate acne in women who:

  • Are at least age 14 or 15 (depending on the brand)
  • Have already started menstruating
  • Need contraception

However, in actual practice, doctors prescribe birth control for the full spectrum of acne, from mild to severe. Several clinical trials have shown that taking combination birth control pills can result in decreased acne flare-ups, fewer pimples, less inflammation, and less severe acne.

Ask your doctor or your Watsons Pharmacist for more information on contraceptive pills for acne treatment. Click on this LINK to shop for pills, contraceptives, condoms, supplements, adult toys, vibrators, and sexual wellness essentials online.

Reference: Accessed 12 October 2023

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