A person considering birth control for acne should be aware of the many alternatives to reduce acne before beginning a new medication.
For someone using birth control as a contraceptive, reduced acne may be a side effect. However, oral contraceptives come with many other harmful side effects, and you should not take birth control solely to get rid of acne. Instead, use a facial cleanser that controls oil production on the face without changing your hormone levels.
An effective skincare regimen using products like cleansers, moisturizers, and serums that work well together can clear up your blemishes without the time, cost, and side effects that accompany prescribed birth control for acne.
What Causes Hormonal Acne?
An increase in androgens like testosterone can lead to increased oil production, one of the three main contributing factors to pimples. Your hormone levels may shift on their own during processes like puberty, menopause, the menstrual cycle, etc., or due to introduced hormones from something like a contraceptive method or gender-affirming hormone therapy,
Hormonal treatments against acne work to inhibit these androgens or block the receptors, decreasing sebum production. In other words, birth control for acne works by changing the levels of hormones in your body,decreasing the testosterone that impacts the production of sebum.
Here's how we see it: In order to treat acne, you don't need to change your androgen levels. If your hormones are increasing the production of oil on your face, then you don't need to change your hormones, you only need to clean up that excess oil.
Changing your hormone levels by taking birth control pills to treat excess oil and acne would be like noticing that your floor is dusty, so instead of sweeping it, you tear up all the floorboards and build a different foundation. Sure, you may end up with a cleaner floor afterward, but it was far more expensive and unnecessary than just grabbing a broom.
Instead of fighting hormonal acne by adding in other hormones via medication, change the effects on your skin causing you to get acne. Pro-Vitamin B5, which regulates oil production, can be found in the Exposed Facial Cleanser (and doesn't require entirely new floorboards).
Do I Have Hormonal Acne?
Some of the signs that your acne may be hormonal include:
Breakouts that occur about a week before menstruation
Breakouts that occur along the chin and jawline
Acne onset after a change in birth control method, during pregnancy, or during menopause
Acne that is resistant to other treatments
Acne that started during puberty when teenagers' bodies begin to produce androgen for the first time
If any of these apply to you, it could mean that hormonal imbalance is a leading cause of your acne.
While someone taking birth control who is also experiencing hormonal acne could experience improvement in their acne, you do not need to start taking birth control solely to treat acne. Many potential drawbacks of new medication can be avoided by trying a topical skincare regimen formulated for acne first.
Consider the Side Effects
The birth control pill comes with some serious side effects. And while the pill is effective in preventing pregnancy and treating other health problems, you should always be aware of unwanted side effects that are unfortunately quite common.
Combination birth control pills are associated with the following side effects:
significant weight gain
heightened anxiety and mood swings
blood pressure fluctuations
potential blood clots
increased risk of breast cancer
breakthrough bleeding (bleeding throughout your cycle, not just during menstruation)
Many women only experience a few of these effects or none at all. However, if you have a condition that could be exacerbated by these side effects, like migraines, high blood pressure, heart disease, or an anxiety disorder, you should talk with your neurologist, psychiatrist, or another medical specialist about other contraceptive methods.
One can avoid these side effects and risks by first trying a skincare regimen designed to get rid of existing and future breakouts, like Exposed.
Conclusion: What you Need to Know Before Trying Birth Control for Acne
If you take the time and money to go see a doctor, they will most likely put you on medication even if you don't need it.
If you are considering taking birth control just to fight acne, you should first try an over-the-counter treatment. Exposed can be more effective than birth control without any of the unwanted side effects that can accompany prescriptions.
Anti-contraceptive medications have helped millions of women treat painful medical conditions and take control of their lives by deciding when, how, and if they want to have children. But anti-contraceptive medications are not acne medications. And it is too often that we see young women, women who are not sexually active, or women who weren't completely aware of all the side effects, taking birth control pills to treat acne, when a consistent skincare routine would have been far more effective.
With that being said, if you are already taking medication do not stop taking an existing prescription without talking to a doctor first. You may need to taper off instead of just stopping abruptly.
To treat hormonal acne, look into Exposed Skincare. We offer Basic, Expanded, and Ultimate Kits that use a delicate balance of soothing and acne-fighting ingredients. Gentle Exposed products can keep your skin healthy and nourished as part of a comprehensive acne treatment approach.