Use of Spironolactone for Acne
Oral spironolactone is a medication that may be used to treat hormonal acne in some women. Hormone fluctuations can cause excess sebum production--which in turn leads to clogged pores and inflamed blemishes. However, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that spironolactone is not appropriate for every woman with acne.
The drug spironolactone, which goes by the trade name Aldactone, is used for a variety of purposes. Mayo Clinic experts state that it can be used to treat high blood pressure in conjunction with other medications, as well as water retention caused by heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver and certain kidney disorders. It is also used to prevent the adrenal gland from producing a hormone called aldosterone, which in turn reduces high androgen levels that may cause acne.
Treatment for Acne
Information provided by the AAD indicates that spironolactone is only one medication that may be used to treat hormonal acne in adult women. This type of acne, which occurs in women over the age of 20, presents in the form of acne lesions that are often limited to the lower part of the face and around the chin, jawline and upper neck. Some women notice that acne becomes worse than it was when they were in their teens. Spironolactone may be administered on its own or used in conjunction with oral contraceptives when other forms of treatment, such as topical medication and oral antibiotics, fail to resolve acne.
When Is It Used?
Any type of medication used to treat hormonal acne must be prescribed carefully, after patients are thoroughly screened, warns dermatologist Bethanee J. Schlosser, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Hormonal therapies such as spironolactone and oral contraceptives must be used on a regular basis for at least 3 months to measure their efficacy. Schlosser states that although the medication can resolve adult-onset acne caused by hormone fluctuations, female patients should consult with a dermatologist to ensure that hormonal therapy is appropriate for their needs.
Like other medications, spironolactone can cause any number of undesirable side effects that should be reported to a doctor immediately. However, a 2002 study conducted by the University of Toronto on the use of spironolactone to treat acne indicated that of 91 women who were followed over the course of 8 years, none developed a serious health conditions due to spironolactone use. Fifty-nine percent of women reported side effects, mainly irregular menstrual periods and symptoms related to the drug's diuretic properties. Researchers concluded that spironolactone appears to be a safe long-term treatment for adult acne in women.
Mayo Clinic experts state that oral spironolactone should be taken according to a doctor's instructions. Dosage should never be adjusted by the patient. If a dose is accidentally missed, spironolactone should be taken as soon as possible, unless it's almost time for the next dose. "Doubling up" the medication is not advised.
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