Controlling Acne With Birth Control Pills

If you are suffering from moderate to severe acne that does not respond to antibiotics and/or topical medications, an alternative treatment that you may want to consider is taking oral contraceptives. Birth control pills may help clear up acne in some women. Currently, there are three oral contraceptives that are FDA approved for the treatment of acne: Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, and Yaz.

Acne is formed when an oily substance called sebum builds up in your hair follicles along with dead skin. Sebum is a natural skin lubricant that, in some people, becomes over-productive. Along with the dead skin, sebum forms a soft plug in the hair follicle. With enough buildup, bacteria usually begins to form, and a pimple is the evidence of an infected follicle.

Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) help to control acne because they reduce the amount of sebum that is produced. However, excess sebum is only one cause of acne, so it is recommended that oral contraceptives be used in combination with additional treatments, such as topical medications or creams that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Usually, birth control pills take several months before they begin to control the excess sebum, so you must be patient in order to see results. Also, your skin may actually get a little worse before it gets better.

Keep in mind that although oral contraceptives CAN improve acne in some women, there are some side effects that will vary from person to person. These include:

• Headaches
• Nausea
• Breast tenderness
• Changes in menstruation
• Lower sex drive
• Depression
• Slightly higher risk for heart disease and blood clots

Some women should not take oral contraceptives. These women include:

• Those over 35 who currently smoke
• Those who have heart disease
• Those with liver problems
• Those with history of blood clots

Always take all of the information into account before deciding on a medical treatment. If you are suffering from acne and are also looking for a form of contraception, birth control pills may be the answer you have been looking for. However, if you are not also in need of a form of contraception, take all of the side effects into consideration before coming to a treatment decision.

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