Oral contraceptives or birth control pills have proved to be an effective acne treatment for some women. For years dermatologists have used the oral contraceptive pills off label as acne treatments. Recently the FDA also approved a handful of oral contraceptives such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, and YAZ as powerful acne treatment pills.
Oral contraceptives are of course not used as the first form of acne treatment medication. These birth control pills are often prescribed as alternatives after other acne treatment options have failed to show significant results. For the best acne treatment results, oral contraceptives should be used in combination with other acne treatment products, such as topical retinoids or benzoyl peroxide.
How does oral contraceptive work as effective acne treatment?
The oral contraceptive pills are manufactured with a combination of estrogen and progestin. They cause alterations in the usual female reproductive cycle, thus affecting the hormonal patterns in the body. Most of the oral contraceptive pills contain ethinyl etradiol as an active estrogen ingredient. Since the intake of birth control pills reduces the amount of testosterone in the body, it leads to reduction in acne breakouts. This happens mainly because the hormonal changes suppresses the amount of oil produced by the sebaceous glands, and at the same time also reduces the pore blockages.
Oral contraceptives can be especially helping in clearing acne for women having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). There are certain pills such as Yaz and Yasmin, which contain progesterone which can suppress the amount of testosterone within the body, thus dropping acne breakout activity.
There are some oral contraceptives which may raise the testosterone levels within the body, and thereby actually worsening your acne. If you are planning to include oral contraceptive pills as a part of your acne treatment regime then it is recommended that you consult with your dermatologist. He or she can better prescribe a brand that would best suit your requirement.
Common usage directions of oral contraceptive for acne treatment
Oral contraceptive pills are preferably taken daily, at the same time. The starting course would include three weeks of active pills, followed by a week of placebo “reminder” pills, during which the menstruation normally occurs.
If you are using oral birth control pills as an acne treatment method, then it can take three months or longer before you notice any changes. Be patient and let the medicine work on the acne before you come to any conclusion.
Though it is absolutely safe to use oral contraceptive pills as a part of your acne treatment routine, it is strongly recommended that you do so after consulting with your doctor or dermatologist.