Spironalactone for Acne
If you're an adult woman, chances are you've had some pimples. Around half of all women suffer from acne as adults, and adult acne often is much more difficult to treat than the teenage variety, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you've tried unsuccessfully to curb your zits with conventional acne-fighters offered by your dermatologist, you might wind up with a prescription for spironolactone, which treats acne by altering your hormone levels.
Androgens--male-type hormones that normally circulate in both men and women--can lead to acne because they promote the production of oil in the skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Even if you have normal androgen levels in your body, you might get acne because your skin is particularly sensitive to stimulation from these hormones, and therefore gets too oily. But many adult women with bad acne also have too-high levels of androgens--which include testosterone--in their bodies.
Spironolactone, a diuretic or water pill, treats fluid retention in people with congestive heart failure and other disorders, according to Drugs.com. But it also has anti-androgenic properties, which means it's useful in acne and in other disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, where acne often combines with hair growth on the face and chest. Spironolactone works by blocking the skin's androgen receptors, which prevents the skin from making too much oil.
If your dermatologist prescribes spironolactone for your acne, you'll probably take the drug once per day at night, according to Drugs.com. Your physician may ramp up your dosage over time to watch how your body reacts to the medication. Potential side effects of spironolactone include mild nausea or vomiting, headaches or skin rash. Also, you shouldn't drink alcohol when taking spironolactone.
Even though spironolactone was developed to treat an entirely different condition, medical research backs its use in treating acne. In one study, reported in the journal "Acta Dermato-Venereologica" in 1988, investigators treated acne patients with 100 mg daily of spironolactone over 12 weeks. They found that both acne and skin-oil production decreased significantly after treatment with the medication.
Spironolactone appears to work best in women older than 30. Your dermatologist may be reluctant to prescribe spironolactone to treat your acne unless you've tried other treatments first, possibly including other hormonally based treatments such as oral contraceptives. In addition, the medication carries the risk of some serious side effects, including severe allergic reactions and kidney problems. If you and your doctor are considering spironolactone to treat your acne, you should talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have.
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