Acne is a problem that plagues millions of people during their adolescent and adult years. Many different products can be used to try to heal acne, including topical creams that contain benzyl peroxide.
However, medications that are known to help improve the appearance of acne are oral contraceptives, otherwise known as birth control pills. Doctors have been prescribing birth control pills as “off-label” acne treatments when other acne-fighting treatments fail. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration has approved different types of birth control pills to be prescribed to specifically fight acne.
Pills Approved to Fight Acne
The three types of birth control pills that are now FDA approved to fight acne are Yaz, Estrotep and Ortho Try-Cyclen. These pills are comprised mostly of estrogen and progestin and work to lower the levels of androgen hormones in the body. When the hormone levels in the body decrease, so does the production of sebum, or oil, which is the main culprit of acne breakouts.
It’s important to note that it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to notice an improvement in your acne. Also, many users report that their acne actually got worse before it got better.
Birth control pills are normally taken consecutively for 21 days followed by two days of placebo pills, which trigger menstruation. Pills should be taken at the same time each day; however, if you forget to take a pill one day it’s important to take it as soon as you remember, even if you must take two pills at the same time.
Birth control pills can help stave off the signs of aging, due to the increase of estrogen they bring to the body. Doctors who studied women and estrogen have found that increased amounts of estrogen in the body improve elasticity in the skin. Skin that has good elasticity is resistant to wrinkling and other signs of aging.
Possible Side Effects
All medications pose the risk for side effects, and birth control pills are no exception. Common side effects that users have reported include weight gain, breakthrough bleeding, breast tenderness, nausea and moodiness. More serious, but very rare, side effects include migraine headaches, blood clots, depression, hypertension and stroke.
Other Acne Treatment Ideas
You still have options if using birth control pills to control your acne doesn’t appeal to you. Your dermatologist can look at your personal acne situation and prescribe antibiotic medications that are specifically designed to fight acne, including Erythromycin, Minocycline and Accutane, among others.