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Birth control pills and acne treatment

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Acne is one of the most bothering problems for women. Severe acne flare up renders an unsightly look to the skin and calls for treatment. Under such circumstance, birth controls pills prove quite effective in healing the pimples.


How do birth control pills help in acne treatment?

You must have observed that women those are taking the contraceptive pills have smooth and clear skin. Therefore the relation between acne and birth control pills is quite established.

Acne pops up on the face due to excess production of sebum, which blocks the skin pores and creates a favourable zone for bacterial growth. This subsequently results in acne. Women who have high levels of androgen are most likely to face acne problems because androgen stimulates sebum secretion.

Birth control pills that contain combination of estrogen and progesterone are capable of lowering androgen levels and your acne is cleared off within a few months done the line.


Which birth control pills are used to treat acne?

Not all birth control pills bring about the same effect. Only progesterone pills or androgen based progestin pills rather promote acne. There are 3 types of FDA approved contraceptives used in acne treatment:

Estrostep – It’s combination of norethindrone acetate and ethinyl estradiol suggested to females who have reached 15 years of age or started their periods. The combination pills should be continued for at least 6 months.

YAZ- First consider checking the side effects of YAZ with your doctor as drospirenone, the synthetic progestin contained in the pills is linked with clotting of blood. Minimum age is 14 years old for menstruating girls.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen- The mode of action is same as the aforementioned birth control pills. However it contains norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol and is quite effective.

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Who can take birth control pills for acne treatment?

Doctor suggests birth control pills for women only if they are not planning for pregnancy. The minimum age is 14 years as girls start menstruating; the age limit further differs for the type of pill being prescribed.


Who cannot take birth control pills for acne treatment?

Not everyone is the right candidate for resorting to contraceptives to get rid of acne. Your doctor would not recommend under the following circumstances: 

  • If you are planning for pregnancy, pregnant or are breastfeeding
  • You are over 35 years of age and a smoker
  • History of heart disease, liver problems, diabetes
  • With high blood pressure, hormonal problems
  • Have regular migraine headaches
  • Have cancer or undergoing cancer treatment
  • Have blood disorders – like blood clots in legs, lungs, etc. 


Are there any side effects associated with it?  

Birth control pills definitely have side effects. But as your body gets used to the dose, the side effects should disappear.

You would be experiencing the following symptoms: 

  • Acne flare up before they start healing
  • Weight gain
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Change in appetite
  • Sore and tender breasts
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in bowel

Some serious long term risks could be formation of tumours in liver or breasts, and chances of stroke and heart attack


What is the recommended dosage?

The dosage and duration will depend on the type of pill and the severity of your acne. However, you need to take a pill everyday minimum for 3 months. Your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic along with the birth control pill.


How effective are birth control pills in treating acne?

There are reports where many women have been benefitted from this measure. To receive best results, listen to your doctor’s advice and complete the dose. 

Note: Let your doctor know if you have a pre-existing medical problem and taking any medicines, supplements or undergoing any treatment.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: April 06, 2014

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