For some dealing with constantly inflamed skin can be not only tedious but also very painful. Can birth control be the answer?
Dealing with cystic acne is not an easy task, and before considering taking any medication, make sure you consult a doctor. Not all birth control methods work for acne and a professional should assess your skin type. Let’s first understand how birth control works.
Birth control explained
The pill contains a combination of estrogen and progesterone; these hormones suppress ovulation. A menstrual cycle includes menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation and a luteal phase –all phases controlled by hormones from the brain and ovaries, birth control stops fluctuations to stop ovulation.
What is the influence of the pill on acne?
Birth control while affecting your hormones to prevent pregnancy, also regulates other hormonal issues like acne.
If your hormone levels shift from a more female (progesterone and estrogen predominance) profile to a more male profile (when testosterone is more predominant) your skin can experience some changes:
- The sebaceous glands –responsible for producing oil–, become more active.
- Dead skin cells increase
- Skin cell become stickier
This is the perfect environment for acne to occur, and some women are more sensitive to testosterone and develop hormonal acne, this is why birth control pills can make hormones stable and decrease testosterone levels and acne as well.
Types of birth control for acne
As a general rule, birth control pills that contain estrogen and progesterone are the best at clearing acne, on the other hand, hormonal injections, implants and intrauterine devices (IUD) usually make acne worse.
Can all acne be treated with the pill?
Inflammatory acne is usually treated with oral antibiotics, but for hormonal acne, antibiotics tend to fail 70% to 80% of the time.
Hormonal acne is usually different from inflammatory acne because breakouts usually appear during your menstrual cycle and it pops up along your jawline or chin. Although it is an effective treatment, it can take up to six cycles for birth control to clear acne up. You can see some improvement in a month or so, and acne may reappear if you stop taking the medication.
Possible side effects of the pill
The potential side effects of the pill for acne are the same as those of someone taking it for contraception. Short-term side effects are usually bloating, breast tenderness and nausea, as for long-term effects, the pill can affect your libido and mood. It is not usually recommended for smokers, people who suffer from headaches or if you have a history of a blood clotting disorder.
If you are struggling with acne, you have to consult a doctor for appropriate treatment, you should never take contraceptives without consulting a specialist.
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