How Does the Pill Clear Up Acne?
Birth control pills can help reduce or clear up acne by reducing oil output in a number of ways for women who have acne breakouts that are triggered by their hormones. Acne is a common skin disease that causes our skin to break out and become inflamed. It affects all ages. Though it can occur anywhere on your body, it usually appears on your face, neck, shoulders, chest, back, and/or upper arms. There are a number of side effects and risks to using birth control, so talk with your physician about the pros and cons of this treatment.
Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are often prescribed for acne when acne doesn't respond to other treatments and prescription medications. According to the Mayo Clinic, three types of birth control have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat acne in women: ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate, ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone, and ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone.
Birth control pills for acne work by reducing the amount of sebum, an oily substance that lubricates your skin. Dead skin cells build up in your pore's hair follicle and block pores. Birth control pills are usually used with additional acne treatments, such as medicated creams containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
Most women have to take birth control pills for several months before noticing any results. Also, your skin may worsen before it improves.
The Nemours Foundation reports that birth control pills can help stabilize fluctuating hormones that can cause acne. Changes in hormones levels can cause the oil glands under your skin to enlarge and make too much oil. By keeping those hormones under control, acne can be controlled.
Slow Oil Glands
For women with premenstrual acne flares, birth control pills can help clear acne by slowing overactive oil glands. According to The National Women's Health Information Center, research shows that birth control pills can help women who have acne breakouts around their menstrual cycle.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported that women with therapeutically resistant cystic acne have excess androgen, which is produced by the ovaries. Androgen stimulates the skin's oil glands. Birth control pills control the amount of androgen produced by the ovaries.
Side Effects and Risks
According to the National Women's Health Information Center, side effects can include irregular menstruation, breast tenderness, fatigue and headaches. Additional side effects identified by the Mayo Clinic include decreased sex drive, depression, and nausea and vomiting.
Risks identified by the Mayo Clinic include an increased risk of blood clots, high blood pressure, heart disease and high potassium. There are also potential fetal problems if you take birth control pills while pregnant.
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