Birth Control Pills for Acne

Acne is generally triggered due to the clogging of oil with hair follicles in the pores of our skin. But this is not the only reason behind acne breakout. Hormonal imbalance is also a pertinent reason behind acne problems. Due to hormonal imbalance generally teenage and adolescent people suffer from acne breakouts.

Hormonal imbalance causes acne breakouts also in older people and especially in women. Even adults, who’ve never had this problem, may become susceptible to acne. Doctors prescribe women birth control pills to control acne if they suspect hormonal imbalance. Birth control pills inhibit the androgen hormone, which is responsible for production of excess oil

Following are some of the symptoms that are attached to the acne problem:

  • Appearance of acne in adults for the first time.
  • Flare ups of acne before the menstrual cycle.
  • Irregularity of menstrual cycle.
  • Excessive growth of hair or hair in unusual places.
  • Elevated levels of certain androgens in the blood stream.

The problem of acne breakout is generally more in women than men. It is also due to the hormonal activity in their body. The androgen (male hormone) is instrumental for producing oil in the body. This oil in turn causes acne breakout on the skin. With excessive androgen in your system the oil producing glands go into higher gear and so does the acne problem. Therefore, low doses of birth control pills are prescribed to treat acne in women. Hence, if the reason for acne is hormonal imbalance, birth control pills can be effective in treating it.
Oral contraceptives or birth control pills contain either only progestin or a combination of synthetic estrogen or progestin. These pills use ethinyl etradiol as the estrogen, which acts to lower the levels of Luteinizing Hormones (LH) and increase the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). This, as a result, lowers testosterone, thus reducing the drive of the oil glands responsible for acne.

Almost all birth control pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin hormones. The pills that contain estrogen and progestin hormones with higher androgen (male hormones) activity make acne worse. But the pills containing hormones with lower androgen activity are less likely to aggravate acne, and may also clear it.

Along with the birth control pills anti-androgens are also prescribed, which inhibit androgen production in the ovaries and adrenal glands that help prevent existing androgens from producing excessive oil.

The main motif of birth control pills in case of acne is to prevent the excess androgen from producing oil in abundance. However, this therapy works better in conjunction with other therapies like topical antibacterial agents or tretinoins.

Generally women find that oral contraceptives have a good effect on skin. They generally lower the level of androgen hormones and reduce the oil production by them. Thus, the birth control pills in small doses are beneficial in treating acne.

There are risks also attached to the intake of birth control pills. These risks include heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. It may also cause vaginal bleeding, fluid retention, melasma (dark brown skin patches), and depression.

Though birth control pills are worth using for acne treatment, they may have a bad effect on the body too. Therefore, one needs to be careful before starting such a treatment. However, advice of the doctor should be abided by in such cases.