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Birth control pills for acne?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/birth-control-pills-for-acne/AN02016
- With Mayo Clinic dermatologist
Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.read biographyclose window
Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.
Dr. Lawrence Gibson likens bad health information on the Internet to food poisoning.
Consumers, he says, need to be aware and will find reliable information at MayoClinic.com.
Dr. Gibson, a Covington, Ky., native, has been with Mayo Clinic since 1986 and is board certified in dermatology, dermatopathology and immunodermatology. He is a professor of dermatology at Mayo Medical School and a consultant in the Department of Dermatology.
Dr. Gibson has served as the fellowship director for dermatopathology and as chair of the Laboratory Division in the Department of Dermatology. He is especially interested in inflammatory disorders of the skin, including vasculitis, and in lymphoma affecting the skin.
"Electronic information has become a staple in the diet of a health conscious society," he says. "It's important to avoid misinformation and provide a credible source for health information. Using this analogy, it's critical to avoid 'indigestion' or, worse yet, 'food poisoning' by the ingestion of tainted information."
Treatments and drugs (3)
- Acne scars: What's the best treatment?
- Birth control pills for acne?
- Pregnancy acne: What's the best treatment?
Alternative medicine (1)
- Natural acne treatment: What's most effective?
Birth control pills for acne?
I have acne that doesn't clear up when I use medications or creams. Could birth control pills help?
from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.
Yes, birth control pills (oral contraceptives) may improve acne in women. Birth control pills for acne are typically considered when acne doesn't respond to other treatments, such as prescription medication.
How birth control pills help
Birth control pills for acne work by reducing sebum — an oily substance that lubricates your hair and skin. Acne results from the buildup of sebum and dead skin cells in hair follicles. Bacteria also play a role, by triggering additional inflammation and infection.
Because the pills target only one cause of acne — excess sebum — it's best to use them with other acne treatments, such as medicated creams containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. You may need to take birth control pills for several months before noticing any results, and your skin may get worse before it gets better.
Possible side effects
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|How acne develops|
Though typically safe and effective, birth control pills aren't for everyone. Side effects can include headaches, change in menstrual flow, breast tenderness, and slightly increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and blood clots.
Talk to your doctor about how your health history and age may affect your risks with birth control pills for acne.
Don't take combination estrogen-progestin pills if you:
- Are age 35 or older and smoke
- Have a history of cardiovascular disease
- Have a history of breast, uterine or liver cancer
- Have a history of blood clots in your legs or lungs
Pregnancy acne: What's the best treatment?
- Frangos JE, et al. Acne and oral contraceptives: Update on women's health screening guidelines. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2008;58:781.
- The truth about oral contraceptives and acne. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/article_oral_contraceptives.html. Accessed July 8, 2011.
- George R, et al. Hormonal therapy for acne. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery. 2008;27:188.
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen (prescribing information). Raritan, N.J.: Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals; 2008. http://www.thepill.com/thepill/shared/pi/Tri-Cyclen_Lo_PI.pdf#zoom=100. Accessed July 8, 2011.
- Estrostep (prescribing information). Rockaway, N.J.: Warner Chilcott Company; 2009. http://www.wcrx.com/pdfs/pi/pi_estrostep_fe.pdf. Accessed July 8, 2011.
- Yaz (prescribing information). Wayne, N.J.: Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals; 2007. http://berlex.bayerhealthcare.com/html/products/pi/fhc/YAZ_PPI.pdf?WT.mc_id=www.berlex.com. Accessed July 8, 2011.
- Ofori AO. Hormonal therapy for acne vulgaris. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 7, 2011.
- Practice bulletin no. 109: Noncontraceptive uses of hormonal contraceptives. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010;115:206.