Are Birth Control Pills Effective Against Acne?

Is there any truth to birth control pills being effective against acne? In cases when acne has not responded to the usual acne treatments such as prescribed acne medications, birth control pills or oral contraceptives are usually considered. But do they really help improve acne and how do they work? First off let’s get to know what triggers this bothersome skin problem.

Four Major Factors Behind Acne

The cause of acne has been long debated about. Diet, skin type, stress and many other things have been blamed for acne. While these things can worsen this skin condition, skin experts agree that there are four main factors that contribute to acne. These are sebaceous glands and sebum, cell proliferation, bacteria, and the type of follicle.

Birth Control Pills and Acne

So how do birth control pills fit into the picture? Whatever the type of acne is affecting a person, skin experts agree that overproduction of sebum acts as a catalyst or trigger for the series of events that give rise to acne or skin breakouts. So how do oral contraceptives fit in the picture? Oral contraceptives help in reducing sebum which in turn helps in managing this skin condition.

Since oral contraceptives address only one of the four major factors of acne, which is excessive production of sebum, it is advisable that one use oral contraceptives with other acne treatments like medicated creams with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. When using birth control pills in treating acne, one should remember that it may take several months before results become noticeable. It is also worth noting that your skin may get worse at first before it starts getting better.

Possible Side Effects

Birth control pills are generally safe. However they are not for everyone. There are also possible side effects that one can experience from using oral contraceptives. Here is a list of possible side effects.

  • Headaches
  • Change in menstrual cycle
  • High blood pressure
  • Tenderness of the breasts
  • Blood clots
  • A slight increase of heart disease risk

Before taking any contraceptive pills to treat your acne problem, you should consult your doctor first and discuss your complete health history and your age as these things may affect your risks when taking oral contraceptives for treating acne.

A Word of Caution
Anyone with any of the following conditions should not take estrogen-progestin pills:

  • 35 years or older who smokes
  • With a history of cardiovascular disease
  • With a history of breast, liver, or uterine cancer
  • With a history of blood clots in your legs or lungs

Although oral contraceptives are generally safe and effective as an acne treatment, see to it that you consult your doctor first.

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