Use of Birth Control Pills for the Treatment of Acne

by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  September 14, 2013 at 11:40 AM Health In Focus   - G J E 4
Studies indicate that certain birth control pills can be used to treat severe acne in girls and women.
Use of Birth Control Pills for the Treatment of Acne
Use of Birth Control Pills for the Treatment of Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that usually affects adolescents. Pimples flare up on the facial skin due to underlying hormonal changes that are seen at this age. Excessive androgens in the blood cause increased sebum production in the skin, which leads to pimples.

Mild acne subsides on its own or with over-the-counter medications like benzoyl peroxide or antibiotic creams. Severe acne may require treatment with oral medications.

One of the options for treating severe acne in women is the use of the oral contraceptive pill. The pill contains the hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which may counteract the effect of androgens on the skin. Studies indicate that the effect may not be dramatic; it may take days or weeks for the acne to disappear. In fact, the problem may initially appear to worsen.

It is not clear, however, if a particular type of birth control pill is more effective than others in controlling acne. Pills that contain only progesterone can worsen acne and should be avoided. The pills should also be used with local treatments for better effect.

Side Effects of Birth Control Pills

It should not be forgotten that birth control pills are not without side effects. They can be used only to treat girls and women who are menstruating, and are therefore unsuitable for younger girls. Though the currently available pills are comparatively much safer than the older ones, the patient is at an increased risk of conditions like deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the veins of the legs). Other potential risks of birth control pills include high blood pressure, liver disease, gall stones, migraine headaches, nausea, irregular bleeding, breast tenderness and depression.

Birth control pills may therefore not be advisable for people at risk for the above conditions. Women at a higher risk for certain cancers should also avoid taking these medications for acne.

Thus, birth control pills are an option for the treatment of acne in menstruating women, who also desire its use for contraception.

Source: Medindia

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