Can Birth Control Cause Acne?
Wondering if birth control causes acne? Maybe you’ve heard a friend claim that birth control causes acne in that their skin went dry and broke out as soon as they began taking some contraceptive. You may also have heard someone say that her skin went smooth after going on birth control.
I bet you have heard both sides of the story. However, most of the studies that have been conducted support the effectiveness of oral contraceptives in treating acne. Other studies show that birth control might cause acne at first. All in all, contraceptives can be a great option particularly for those with persistent acne that doesn’t improve with topical applications alone.
When used together with a good skin care treatment such as BioClarity, birth control helps manage acne and smoothen your skin gradually. Today, I will help you understand if birth control might cause acne.
A Quick Look into How Birth Control Works
If you’re wondering whether or not birth control causes acne, you need to understand that contraceptives can indeed affect the severity and frequency of acne breakouts. Normally, women’s ovaries and adrenal glands secrete low androgen levels. If much lower androgens are produced, there is a decrease in the production of sebum, resulting in fewer, less acute breakouts.
When you take birth control pills that contain estrogen and progesterone, you set your systems to produce less androgens. Consequently, you achieve less acne breakouts and eventually attain a smoother skin.
Birth Control Might Cause Acne
In general, birth control helps mitigate acne breakouts. The pills that have a combination of progesterone and estrogen help reduce the levels of androgens in the body. As a result, less sebum is produced, thereby reducing the breakouts. Nonetheless, some types of birth control cause acne. The pills that contain progestin prop up acne and accelerate breakouts.
Why Does Birth Control Help Acne?
To understand if birth control causes acne, it’s important that you first understand what brings acne. The most common cause of acne is fluctuations in the levels of hormones in the body. These fluctuations normally occur during adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. It’s also good to note that stress worsens acne.
Hormone fluctuations lead to a surge in androgens, a type of hormones that occurs in both women and men. Once the adrenal glands get stimulated, skin follicles produce higher amounts of sebum, an oily substance.
As the pores in the skin get filled up with sebum, the oily substance is mixed up with dead skin cells and P. Acnes bacteria, irritating the skin and leading to the formation of pimples.
There is an important connection between oily skin and acne, in that excessive oil clogs skin pores. Someone with dry skin might be tempted to think that they are safe. Unfortunately, dry skin forces the sebaceous glands to pump out excessive oil to try controlling the dry conditions. In the process, skin pores get clogged and breakouts begin.
Are you on contraceptives and you’re worried about birth control causing acne? Clear, smooth skin is closer than you think. It’s all about finding the vital balance; getting the pills that contain both progesterone and estrogen and avoiding those that contain progestin.
Would Birth Control Cause Acne?
To find out if birth control could cause acne, it’s important to examine how birth control affects the body.
Birth control pills, also known as contraceptives, are simply medications designed to keep a woman from getting pregnant. These pills often contain estradiol and progestin, hormones that curb ovulation, the process of the ovaries releasing eggs.
These hormones also reduce the amount of androgens in the body, resulting in a decrease in the sebum produced in the skin. The less the sebum, the smaller the number of clogged pores, and the clearer your skin gets.
- Progestin: this is the synthetic form of progesterone that is present in almost every birth control pill out there. There are numerous progestin variations but it’s crucial to ask for pills with low amounts of it.
- Estradiol: refers to the synthetic form of estrogen; it is also present in most birth control pills. Generally, your skin will clear up faster when you use pills that contain moderate to high amounts of estradiol.
Keep in mind that low-dose contraceptives often contain low levels of estradiol and higher levels of progestin. While it is excellent at preventing pregnancy, low-dose birth control might cause acne.
Which birth control is best for acne?
For a while now, dermatologists and other healthcare experts have prescribed birth control as a treatment for persistent acne. For that reason, manufacturers have developed many contraceptive products for acne.
However, only three of these brands have been approved by the FDA: YAZ, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and Estrostep. The three pills contain a fine combination of estrogen and progesterone. Let us look into each of the three brands.
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen
Ortho Tri-Cyclen combines estrogen with progestin variation called norgestimate. The pill is designed for contraceptive purposes but also surfaces as a great solution for acne. It’s incredibly helpful in preventing and controlling breakouts.
In a study published in 1997 by the American Academy of Dermatology, 94% of the participants reported improvements in their skin after taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen.
Estrostep is an oral contraceptive that contains ethinyl estradiol, an estrogen variation, and norethindrone, a progestin. Its hormone combination helps counter the production of androgens, thus causing the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce less sebum.
Some dermatologists say that Estrostep targets just one cause of acne, and thus recommend using this pill alongside other treatments including benzoyl peroxide to boost its efficiency in clearing clogged pores and fighting infections.
Ever heard of YAZ? The pill, which was introduced in 2006, has been a popular, top-selling contraceptive in the US. This birth control employs a combination of estradiol and a synthetic form of progestin called drospirenone.
Concerns have been raised over the role of YAZ in raising the risk of blood clots. Furthermore, some side effects have come to light indicating that YAZ lowers potassium levels in the body. For those reasons, I would recommend going for its safer substitutes, Estrostep and Ortho Tri-Cyclen.
Can Birth Control Cause Acne at First?
According to studies conducted by MayoClinic, some birth control pills like estrostep can take several months to alleviate a bad acne case. These studies also indicate that after commencing treatment with Estrostep, the breakouts might get worse at first before they start fading away.
So far, there aren’t studies that show disparities in effectiveness between the three birth control pills. The three pills are the only ones that the FDA has approved at the moment but healthcare professionals often prescribe an assortment of other brands to help acne patients.
If you’re looking to use contraceptives to treat acne, don’t worry about birth control causing acne. Of course, birth control might cause acne at first but that is only a possibility. As you try out different pills to find out which one works best for you, I suggest working with your doctor. That way, you might reduce the chances of developing temporary acne caused by birth control.
Birth Control Versus Antibiotics
Many healthcare experts often prescribe antibiotics to treat acne. These medications are available in tablets, elixirs, topical applications, and capsules. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics are doxycycline, clindamycin, tetracycline, and erythromycin. To use these drugs, you must obtain a doctor’s prescription first.
Many people have discovered that antibiotics offer an effective solution against acne, with two main benefits:
They reduce bacteria, including P. Acnes, on the surface of the skin and in the pores
They offer anti-inflammatory properties, easing inflammation and irritation associated with acne breakouts
Although antibiotics provide such great benefits, they often come with certain risks.
Risks of Using Antibiotics Against Acne
Persistent use of antibiotics irritates the skin, thereby causing dryness, and eventually leading to an itchy, scaly skin
Recurrent use of antibiotics can lead to bacterial resistance, making it more difficult to treat acne, or other bacterial illnesses for that matter, with antibiotics:
- The user might contract dermatitis
- Some antibiotics like doxycycline might cause the photosensitivity
- It’s possible to develop rashes and yeast overgrowth
A study conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology found out that in the course of 6 months, birth control pills reduced acne by 55% while antibiotics only reduced the breakouts by 53%.
It is obvious that birth control is more effective at preventing and managing acne than antibiotics. Moreover, birth control pills are not associated with the many side effects that come with antibiotics. Therefore, we can all agree that birth control is better than antibiotics as a solution for acne.
How Long Does It Take for Birth Control to Clear Acne?
It might take up to 3 months of treatment with oral contraceptives before your skin starts improving. That’s because your body needs some time to adjust to the hormones introduced by the pills and for the medication to alter sebum production in your skin.
Are Birth Control Pills Safe?
While oral contraceptives are endorsed for controlling and preventing acne, there are some aspects to keep in mind before starting a treatment plan. If you smoke, have hypertension, or are over 35 years old, you are advised against taking birth control pills.
Also, there are a few side effects associated with birth control pills, including:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- Breast soreness
- Vision loss
- Increased risk of blood clots
It is advisable to always talk to your doctor before picking up a birth control regimen to find out if it’s safe for you. Also, consider working with your dermatologist to figure out if it’s necessary for you to use oral contraceptives in your fight against acne.
Can Birth Control Cause Weight Gain?
Have you noticed an increase in your weight after taking oral contraceptives? That is most probably due to the fact that birth control often causes temporary fluid retention. It’s unlikely that you have gained any extra. The temporary water-weight normally disappears within two to three months.
So, does birth control cause acne? Can birth control make your acne worse? The answer to these question is yes, but remember, birth control causes acne or makes your breakouts worse only at the beginning. As time progresses, the medication starts clearing them out and makes your skin smooth eventually. While many ladies have discovered the beneficial side of birth control in alleviating breakouts, there is a small number that has experienced the opposite. That is, most probably, due to the kind of oral contraceptives they use.
Androgenic birth control pills, or those oral contraceptives that contain high amounts of progestin and low estrogen, can actually worsen acne. Therefore, if you’re wondering how to get rid of acne caused by birth control, the first step would be to avoid such pills and switch to contraceptive products for acne that contain low progestin and high estradiol. So, don’t worry about birth control causing acne; focus on obtaining the right birth control products – those with high estradiols and low progestins.