Birth Control & Acne Medicine
For teenage girls and young women who are in their 20s and 30s, there are many causes for acne, such as imbalanced and fluctuating hormones. You may try over-the-counter remedies and even some birth control pills to help reduce or clear acne. Only a few brands of birth control pills have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat acne; however, this does not mean these are the only ones that treat acne effectively.
What Is Acne?
Outbreaks of acne and skin lesions, commonly referred to as pimples, are skin disorders that affect both genders. Acne is produced by excess sebum, or oil, which often leads to clogged pores. Rapid production of bacteria on your skin can also be another leading cause of acne breakouts. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Women's Health website, acne is the most common skin disease. Acne can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most commonly found on the face, back, neck, shoulders and chest. While acne is not life threatening, if severe enough, acne can lead to permanent scarring and disfiguration.
Different Types of Acne
Comedo is the medical term for blackheads and whiteheads, which are the most common form of acne. A closed comedo is when the pore is clogged under the skin, which forms a whitehead. Open comedos are blackheads, which open up and appear black on the surface of your skin. Blackheads are not black due to dirt, they are black because of the way the air reacts with the excess oil. Postules is the medical term for acne that contains pus and has a red base. Nodules are more serious acne lesions. Nodules tend to lodge deep into the skin and are painful. Nodules can also cause scarring. Cysts are similar to nodules. Cysts are lesions that form deep into the skin, fill with pus and are very painful. Cysts also cause scarring.
According to the Women's Health website, stress, chocolate and poor hygiene are not contributing factors to acne. Acne may cause stress due to the embarrassment of emotional and social impact. Womens Health also states that over-washing can actually cause more acne. The website recommends washing your face twice per day, using gentle circular motions and avoiding scrubbing, as this can irritate the skin. The website also states that experts have not been able to link any relation to acne and foods, such as sugary or greasy food; however, eating a healthy diet is important for your health.
Birth Control Acne Pills
According to dermatologist Lawrence E. Gibson, from the Mayo Clinic, birth control pills are typically used when acne has not successfully responded to prescription medications. As of 2010, the U.S. FDA has approved three types of birth control pills for the treatment of acne. These brands include Estrostep, Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Yaz. Birth control pills effectively treat acne by reducing the amount of oil production. Depending on how mild or severe your acne is, you may need to take birth control pills for several months to see noticeable results. You will likely need to take the pill along with an additional method of acne treatment, such as cleansers that target acne. While the pill may help clear or reduce acne, you should note there are several side effects from taking the pill, including nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, headaches, depression, change in menstrual flow and hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Over-The-Counter Acne Medications
When searching for an over-the-counter (OTC) acne medication, pay close attention to the active ingredient. There are four commonly used active ingredients in OTC medications, and each works differently. According to the Mayo Clinic, benzoyl peroxide is probably the most effective treatment for acne when it comes to OTC medications. Benzoyl peroxide works by removing excess oil and dead skin cells that clog pores. Benzoyl peroxide is available in strengths ranging from 2.5 to 10 percent. It may cause dry skin, redness, scaling, stinging and burning. Start with the lowest strength to see how your skin will react to the solution. Salicylic acid, available in 0.5 to 2 percent, helps slow the shedding of skin cells inside the hair follicle, preventing pores from becoming clogged. Salicylic acid also aids in the break down of blackheads and whiteheads but may cause mild skin irritation and stinging. Alpha hydroxy acids come in two types, lactic acid and glycolic acid. Alpha hydroxy acids treat acne by removing dead skin cells and reducing inflammation. They also promote the growth of new, smoother skin, aiding in the reduction of acne scars. Sulfur is another option, typically combined with benzoyl peroxide, and it works similarly in removing excess oil and dead skin cells.
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