Best Birth Control For Acne

Birth control medication can help you with your acne problem, read on to understand the best birth control for acne.

Overview

Birth control medication can help you with your acne problem. It is somewhat uncommon to have your doctor prescribe the same treatment for your skin breakouts, but it works like magic.

Acne is a skin condition commonly characterized by the pimples and spots on the skin of the individual suffering from it. It mostly occurs in the face area, shoulders, back, neck and the upper arms. It was ranked as the most common skin condition in the entire world and mostly occurs in teenagers experiencing puberty. Medics and dermatologists have in the past prescribed contraceptive medication in a bid to eradicate acne in many patients.

Understanding acne

Before you treat it, it is essential to know what acne is and what causes the little pimples to pop up. Acne is medically referred to as common acne. It affects around 85% of all Americans at some point in their lives, thus the name common acne.

But how does it start? It all begins with the sebaceous glands secreting thick, greasy fluids into the pores of your skin. The fluid blocks the pores and forms what is referred to as plugged pores or hair follicles. Depending on the size of the follicles or pores, the clogs maintain a flesh color or form spots known as blackheads. Accumulation of more secretions from the skin's sebaceous glands causes the area to start swelling and develop into more pronounced pimples all over your skin. Many acne cases are characterized by tender inflammations that can also get infected and form some pus inside.

Acne mostly affects adolescents although it can be seen in adults too. In fact, 20% of all acne cases in America are experienced by adults. In adolescents, acne usually begins at the age of 11 to 13 years and lasts for about 5 to 10 years. The symptoms, however, are not of equal severity in all teens. The ones that have oily skin tend to experience severe cases of acne. Boys also have more pimples than girls at this age.

What causes acne?

It is widely believed that acne is caused by hormonal changes in the body usually characterized by an increased level of testosterone in the bloodstream.

How do birth control pills control acne?

As you may have heard, there is a relation between hormones and acne as many women approach their menses. For instance, they usually experience an increase in the number of pimples on their skin. Generally, acne is caused by an excessive production of sebum. Androgens such as testosterone are primarily thought to be having the biggest effect on the production of the sebum by the skin's sebaceous glands. The androgens in women's bodies are usually kept in check by the hormones progesterone and estrogen. That is why women or female adolescents are generally less likely to experience severe acne on their skin.

Most birth control pills are hormone based and mostly contain the same hormones that limit androgen production in females. These progesterone and estrogen hormones prevent pregnancy by altering the hormonal components in the user’s body so that it is practically impossible for fertilization to occur. Some of the hormones that are responsible for fertility and conception are also the ones that cause breakouts on your skin. The pill, for instance, is engineered in a way that aims to reduce the levels of a hormone called testosterone. Dermatologists have discovered that if the levels of the hormone are higher in your blood, then the chances of having an acne invasion on your face and other sensitive body parts is almost certain, and if they are low, your acne prevalence is virtually zero.

Does every birth control medication work the same?

First, let’s look at the types of birth control available in the American market.

  • Progestin-only BC pills
  • Combination pills (progesterone and estrogen)

These two types of pills have varied strengths and effectiveness and could cause contrasting results regarding the effect on your skin and acne. The combination pills are the ones that are likely to help you with your acne problem while on the other hand, the progestin pills will make the acne grow worse because they have a reverse working mechanism.

The American Food and Drug Association has approved just three brands of birth control pills for the treatment of acne. These are:

  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen - this pill is a combination of estrogen together with a kind of progestin commonly known as norgestimate. Progestins are manmade modifications of the natural progesterone found in women’s ovaries. The pill is available in various doses depending on the intensity of your acne.
  • Yaz - this pill is a combination of estrogen and a progestin commonly referred to as drospirenone. This pill has been marked as a little unhealthy, as prolonged use or overdose may cause blood clots in the user’s blood stream.
  • Estrostep - this pill contains estrogen and progestin known as norethindrone. It is also available in varied doses of estrogen.

These three drugs are the best birth control for acne. Some people may use medications that are not authorized by the FDA but still get positive results. The most common unapproved pills that could help you are Alesse and Yasmin. Remember the most effective birth control pill that will also benefit your skin has to be a combo pill, but if you are only interested in acne removal or reduction then consult a doctor or dermatologist to prescribe to you one of the three approved drugs.

Caution

Caution should be taken during administration of the birth control pills to people with acneic skin. Dermatologists and doctors maintain that the pills are best suited for:

  • Patients who are at least 15 years of age
  • Girls who have already started menstruating
  • Women who need contraceptives

Doctors world-wide normally prescribe the drugs for all cases of acne from severe to mild, and results can be seen in a few weeks or days’ time. It is advisable to stick to one brand if it’s already working well with your skin. Switching brands or types may backfire and cause other complications that may have not been anticipated. Many women start taking the oral contraceptives expecting immediate results, but in real sense it could take up to one month to see results. In fact, many patients have witnessed an initial flare up of acne immediately after commencing the use of the pills. Do not be discouraged by this flare up because it is normal and will go away after some time and continued use. It is common practice for many doctors to issue the patient with topical over-the-counter prescriptions and other antibiotics to give the best results for severe acne.

What are the risks of using birth control for acne?

Studies have shown that using birth control pills can actually pose a number of health risks and the intake of such should be regulated. It should be noted that the birth control pills used today have minimal levels of estrogen and progesterone, hence the lowered medical risks involved in their use and intake. That notwithstanding, these women still are more vulnerable to the side effects of the pill's use. Some of the most common medical risks include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Fatal blood clots especially in the legs or lungs
  • Hypertension
  • Liver diseases
  • Migraines
  • Depression and mood swings

Who should avoid birth control?

It is important to consider if you’re eligible to take the pills before you commence using them to control your acne. This is largely attributed to the fact that the pills have been found to worsen some conditions and their symptoms. If you have any of the following conditions, do not use the pills for acne treatment.

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Blood clot disorders
  • Cancer (including breast cancer, liver cancer and uterine cancer)
  • Liver diseases such as cirrhosis
  • Any kind of diabetes
  • Migraine headaches

Apart from these health conditions, smoking women aged above 35 years of age should not use the pills. Also, women who are pregnant or lactating and those that are overly obese should avoid them. Use when you fall under the categories above may lead to serious health problems.

Overall, acne is not a severe medical problem and is likely to end on its own when the hormonal balance is restored in your body. Thus, there’s no need to go through hectic procedural treatments that may cause you financial strain. Be cautious when using some of the over-the-counter medications for acne treatment. Some of them are known to have adverse side effects and may cause you lots of trouble if you abuse them. Males are highly discouraged from using birth control drugs to treat acne as they may develop subtle feminine attitudes and characteristics after prolonged use.