What’s The Best Birth Control For Acne
Quite frankly, there isn’t one.
Emily was experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone and lab testing showed that she was indeed lacking adequate amounts. But her acne persisted.
Thats because the pill doesnt fix acne or regulate hormones for that matter. It simply suppresses it.
And for some women, acne is worse after stopping birth control.
Over 2 years Emily had been on 5 different birth control pills and felt like her skin was getting worse. So, instead of reaching for another new prescription, it was time to take a holistic approach to her skin.
Why Do Androgens Cause Hormonal Acne
For the majority of women, hormonal acne occurs because their skin is sensitive to the normal levels of androgens like Testosterone.
Although considered to be a male hormone, it is normal for women to produce small amounts of Testosterone. Testosterone is an important hormone for women as it helps strengthen bones and muscles, provides a healthy libido and regulates the menstrual cycle. Androgens are the name for male hormones. Women produce other androgens as well as Testosterone. These are dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate , dehydroepiandrosterone , androstenedione . These three androgens are not very active by themselves and have to be converted to Testosterone or Dihydrotestosterone first.
Testosterone is produced by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. However, cells in the skin also make Testosterone from DHEAS. Skin cells, especially the cells in the sebaceous glands, also make DHT from Testosterone.
Hormonal acne also occurs when there are conditions in which too many androgens are produced such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
How Long It Takes To See Results
ohlamour studio / Stocksy
While it can take as little as a month to notice an improvement, says Twogood, “in most studies, it took three to six months to show a reduction of acne due to birth control use.” Of course, oral contraceptives are considered long-term treatment, and acne may flare back up with discontinued use of the medication.
Also Check: How To Get Rid Acne Scars At Home
What Is The Best Birth Control For Acne And Weight Loss
The estrogen component of birth control is the main source of weight gain. While progesterone-only birth control pills can reduce the effects of weight gain, they are generally not effective for acne. The best birth control for both acne and weight loss would be a combination pill with the lowest dose of estrogen i.e. ultra low-dose pills.
Risks Of Birth Control Pills
Most birth control pills today contain lower doses of progesterone and estrogen than they had in the past. However, they are also side effects like depression, mood changes, migraine headaches, hypertension, and liver diseases.
The best approach to using anything contraception related is to seek a medical opinion. Not only will your doctor recommend the product to use, but it will also be based on your health history, acne severity, and your general need.
Each control pill contains different progestins. As a result, you can experience mild differences between different pills. It is also common for your acne to clear longer even after using the recommended products for acne.
If your acne does not respond to the treatment, your doctor can recommend using antibiotics, retinoids, and other medications that can be used together with birth control or alone.
Nonetheless, some people should avoid using birth control pills. The reason for this is that oral contraception can worsen certain medical conditions. Hence, you shouldnt use birth control pills if you:
Have a history of cancer, liver disease, diabetes, or blood clotting disorder.
Heart disease, migraine headaches, blood clots in the lungs and legs, and hypertension.
A smoker over 30 years or if you are physically immobilized.
Severe obese, breastfeeding, or pregnant.
Havent reached puberty, pregnant, or trying to get pregnant.
Also Check: What Does Back Acne Look Like
Worst Types Of Birth Control For Acne
Birth control pills that contain only progesterone, like the mini pill, shouldnt be used for acne. Not only do they not show any success in clearing up acne, but they might also trigger acne formation. Studies have shown that other birth control types like implants, IUDs, and patches may not benefit acne treatment or worsen it.
How Do You Treat Acne After Stopping The Birth Control Pill
1. Ditch the DairyConsuming dairy, especially from conventionally raised cows, has been associated with acne. Dairy is full of hormones and inflammatory proteins that may promote, or make acne worse. However, other forms of dairy, like grass-fed butter or ghee, have a different type of protein and fats that can actually benefit your skin. So, when it comes to stopping the birth control pill, dairy isnt doing you any favours on your path to balanced hormones. I recommend eliminating it for 6-12 months, or until full resolution of your skin problems.
2. Balance your Blood SugarThe birth control pill has unfavourable effects on blood sugar regulation and insulin production. We know that when blood sugar is not balanced, and we get high levels of insulin, our body produces higher levels of androgens, which can result in acne. Remember, high levels of androgens like testosterone can lead to an increase in sebum from the skin, causing more breakouts. So, keep your blood sugar steady by eating whole, real, foods. Every meal should include loads of nutrient dense veggies, high-quality protein, and healthy fat. Its best to eliminate sugar, white flour and alcohol or at least keep these items to a minimum. Also, prioritize exercise, as it increases insulin sensitivity and will help manage blood sugar.
3. Supplement with Zinc
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Acne Scars Dark Spots
Things To Try When Acne Wont Clear
The following tips from dermatologists can help you get started.
1. Give an acne treatment at least 4 weeks to work.Using a new acne product every few days may seem useful, but that approach can worsen acne. Acne treatment needs time to work. Using a different product every few days can also irritate your skin, causing new breakouts.
If a treatment works for you, you should notice some improvement in 4 to 6 weeks. It can take two to three months or longer to see clearing.
If you notice improvement, keep using the treatment. Even when you see clearing, youll want to keep using the acne treatment. This helps to prevent new breakouts.
When to see a dermatologist about acne?
Seeing a dermatologist can help prevent acne from worsening. You can benefit from seeing a dermatologist when acne:
Causes acne cysts and nodules
Hasnt cleared with treatment you can buy without a prescription
Makes you feel uncomfortable, and you want clearer skin
2. Attack the different causes of acne.If you dont see improvement after 4 to 6 weeks, add a second acne product to your treatment plan.
This approach can help attack the different causes of acne. Bacteria, clogged pores, oil, and inflammation can all cause acne.
Benzoyl peroxide decreases P. acnes bacteria
Retinoids, such as adapalene gel, unclog pores and reduce oiliness
Salicylic acid eases inflammation and unclogs pores
Wont clog pores
Research Has Only Found Small Differences In The Effect On Acne
Researchers from the an international research network took a look at the effectiveness of birth control pills in the treatment of acne. They did a search for studies comparing the pill with a fake drug or a non-hormonal acne medication. The researchers analyzed 31 studies involving a total of about 12,500 participants. Most of the studies compared different contraceptive pills with each other or with a placebo. Hardly any of the studies compared the pill with other acne medications.
All of the birth control pills tested were able to improve acne. They reduced both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne. The pills often had to be taken for several weeks or months before the participants skin got better. The birth control pills that reduced acne had ethinyl estradiol in them, combined with one of the following drugs: levonorgestrel, norethindrone, norgestimate, drospirenone, cyproterone acetate, chlormadinone acetate, dienogest or desogestrel.
Read Also: How To Fade Acne Dark Spots
The Ultimate Guide To Birth Control And Acne
Have you ever been prescribed birth control pills to help fight your persistent acne? If so, you are not alone millions of women every year turn to hormonal contraceptives to clear up their skin, on doctors orders.
But does birth control actually help treat acne? We often hear mixed reviews. While some women rave about birth control being the ultimate cure to their acne, many women claim the exact opposite that birth control pills immediately triggered their previously nonexistent acne. So what is the truth? Does birth control cure or cause acne?
Before we answer this question, let me first explain how hormonal birth control works and how it affects acne.
A Closer Look At Acne
Some types of acne are triggered by changes in hormone production, while other times acne can develop because of genetics, the types of makeup or skincare products used, stress and anxiety, excessive sweating, and even the weather.
Acne is most common in the preteen and teen years due to its strong link to your hormones, but it can also appear when you experience other hormonal imbalances related to pregnancy, nursing, polycystic ovary syndrome , and perimenopause.
Non-inflammatory acne results when sebum and skin debris, like dead skin cells, clog your pores. With this type of acne, you may develop blackheads or whiteheads. Considered a mild form of acne, non-inflammatory acne is typically the easiest to treat.
Inflammatory acne, on the other hand, is triggered by bacteria, not sebum and skin debris. It causes your skin to swell and become inflamed and can be quite painful. There is more than one type of inflammatory acne, ranging from moderate to severe, including:
- Cystic acne
The moderate forms are papules and pustules while nodules and cystic acne are the most severe types of acne and the most difficult to treat.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Acne Between Eyebrows
Who Can Take Birth Control For Acne
Depending on the brand of birth control, you may need to be at least 14 to 15 years old to use birth control for acne, but you should certainly have already started menstruation. Your provider will also evaluate you to make sure you dont have any health conditions that make taking birth control potentially dangerous, including:
Migraine headaches with visual changes
History of blood clots or blood clotting disorder
High blood pressure
Being over 35 years of age
Liver or gallbladder disease
History of breast or uterine cancer
Women with a history of migraines with aura, blood clots, or high blood pressure have a higher risk of having a stroke if they take estrogen-containing birth control pills. This also applies to women who are older than 35 years old, especially if they smoke.
In the case of liver or gallbladder disease, birth control pills can make these illnesses worse. And birth control may not be an option for women with a history of breast or uterine cancer because the added estrogen might make their cancer come back.
Acne After Stopping Birth Control: How Long Does It Last
My clinical experience shows most women who are actively working to heal their body experience acne flares for the first couple of months post-pill, which decreases generally by months 3-5 off the pill. In women not actively working to undo the effects of the pill, the skin battle is often much longer.
Eight months into working with Emily I got a message with an image attached. It was Emily! The girl who had hid from the camera for years just took her first selfie and sent it to me with this message:
Dear Dr. Brighten,
I can not tell you how amazing it is to see my face looking this good after so many years. Not a single birth control pill could do what Ive been able to do with your help!
I not only look better, but I feel better too. I never told you I was seriously considering an anti-depressant before our first visit because my mood had become so bad. Im glad I found you before I started any other medications.
I feel like I have my life back and Im confident Id never be able to say that if it werent for you.
How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Hormonal Acne
People who struggle with acne as they age can feel especially frustrated. It seems very unfair to have wrinkles and breakouts simultaneously. When breakouts persist past adolescence, theres typically a hormonal component we need to address.
Our patients with hormonal acne will end up with clear skin with the appropriate skin treatment no matter their age. With oral birth control pills and spironolactone, we can make the acne go away.
Hormonal acne is treatable, but its not always curable. We cant promise the acne wont come back when you stop taking the medication. Our first goal is always clear skin. Then, we want to keep the patient on the least amount of medication possible to maintain their clear complexion. If youre genetically predisposed to acne, it may return, but we can manage it with medication.
Women experiencing menopause may find they only need treatment for hormonal acne temporarily. After theyve completed menopause, they can often stop using these medications.
How Long Does It Take To Clear Acne
As indicated in the first study, birth control doesnt clear acne overnight. It can take up to six months to see good results. Also keep in mind that the 55% reduction mark is only a calculated average, so not all women will reach that potential.
In contrast, antibiotics seem to work much faster, reaching their full potential within the first three months. However, frequent and long-term use of antibiotics is generally not recommended. Issues of toxicity and antibiotic-resistant infections can be dangerous.
Frequent use of antibiotics can also cause gut problems, which can in turn cause acne according to some studies. Taking into consideration these long-term damaging effects, birth control pills provide a much safer option for acne treatment.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Bad Back Acne
The Birth Control Pill Might Be Better For Acne Than Antibiotics
A study from 2014 published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that the birth control pill is just as effective at fighting acne as antibiotics are researchers found that it may be better than antibiotics as the number one acne fighter. From 32 controlled trials, they saw that, after three months, the medicines were more effective however, after the six-month mark, they reran tests to find that oral contraceptives were creating the best acne-busting results.Treating Mild to Severe Acne. These three oral contraceptives have approval for healing moderate acne in women who:
- Have a minimum of15
- Are already on their periods
- Are looking for contraception
Why Do Some Women Say That The Pill Caused Their Acne
If youve heard that the pill can actually cause acne or make it worse, heres why. Any time a woman begins to take an oral contraceptive, it takes a while for the regulating effects to kick in. Until it does, your hormones continue to fluctuate, which means that androgens may still rise and lead to acne. Over time, your birth control pill will do its job and stabilize your hormones and your acne.
Another possible link between an oral birth control pill and an increase in acne is when the pill contains progesterone only, commonly called the mini pill. In some cases, the lack of estrogen in the pill may allow for higher levels of androgens and, therefore, the potential for hormonal acne.
Read Also: How Do I Get Rid Of Acne On My Jawline
What Else Causes Acne
Birth control certainly isnt the only factor that can trigger acne. The following things can also make non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne flare:
- Natural hormonal changes during puberty and adulthood.
- A history of acne in your family.
- Use of steroid medications, including prednisone.
- Cosmetics that clog the pores.
- Rubbing or placing pressure on skin.
- A yeast infection of the hair follicles.
- Irregular hygiene habits.
- Ingrown hairs.
Birth Control Pills Or Patch
Hormonal birth control including birth control pills and patches raise estrogen levels and reduce the effects of testosterone on women. Lower levels of testosterone reduce sebum levels, directly reducing breakouts and possible acne due to less oil and bacteria growth.
According to WebMD, hormonal birth control increase a protein known as sex-hormone binding globulin in the blood. In turn, SHBG acts like a testosterone sponge soaking up testosterone in your blood. In simple words, lesser testosterone equals lesser sebum which results in less acne.
Be patient when you first start hormonal birth control to control acne. Some women may experience increased breakouts for the first few months. However, this normally goes away as your body adjusts to the change in hormones.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Back Acne Fast
Does Birth Control Cause Acne
So, does birth control cause acne? No, birth control is not a cause of acne. While you wont solely develop acne from birth control, it can affect the frequency and severity of acne.
Asking can birth control cause acne is a bit of a complicated question. Whether birth control helps or worsens acne basically all comes down to its hormonal composition. Since hormonal fluctuations are a major cause of acne due to increased amounts of androgens, the level of hormones in birth control can affect the frequency and severity of acne breakouts.
Here’s how it works…
Understanding Estrogen & Progesterone
The majority of birth control pills contain both progestin and estradiol . Estrogen prevents ovulation, the process in which the ovaries release an egg. They also lower the number of androgens in the body, which results in decreased sebumdecreasing the occurrence of clogged pores and acne.
However, large amounts of progestin can increase androgensthis can promote and worsen breakouts. This is often why some people say that they experience increased acne on birth control.
So, as long as you choose an oral contraceptive with a sufficient amount of estradiol and low levels of progestin, birth control shouldnt worsen acne, it can actually help it.