Oral contraceptive pills for treating hormonal acne

Oral contraceptive pills for treating hormonal acne

hormonal acne treatment birth control pills

Sometimes, home remedies and over-the-counter treatments for hormonal acne may not work as effectively as it is supposed to. This is, however, a common problem with a lot of those suffering from the condition. Since hormones are rather unpredictable and the fluctuating levels depend on a lot of factors, it may take using oral contraceptives or birth control pills for acne to treat it, in combination with topical medicines.

How does it work?

For decades now, birth control pills for acne have been proven to work effectively in preventing the egg from being fertilized during ovulation. Women have, time and again, relied on this for protection especially when they are sexually active.

One of the side effects to using this, or perhaps it’s more of a benefit in this case, is that it effectively controls the rise of androgen hormones in the body, while producing more estrogens hormones. This results in the blocking of the androgen from penetrating and stimulating the sebaceous follicles into the overproduction of the sebum, a factor that usually causes acne breakouts.

The pills also work to “clear” the face up, which is why a lot of women under oral contraception tend to develop blemish-free skin.

When to use birth control for acne?

Birth control for acne has been well applied and recommended in the bid to treat pimples. Birth control pills for acne have been prescribed for birth control acne treatment especially if some other forms of treatment such as topical products and medication have proved non effective.

Acne which is a product of excess oil produced by the skin and its combination with dead skin cells eventually create lesion. The situation is further aggravated by bacteria which spread  infection in the skin. Prescription of birth control pills for acne as a form of acne treatment is therefore in a bid to curtail the excessive oil production.

Best contraceptive pills for hormonal acne

It should be noted that while studies have proven that this method works, not all contraceptive pills could benefit the skin when it comes to treating hormonal acne. For this to work the pills must contain high levels of estrogens and it must be able to control the production of the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).

Some pills that many dermatologists agree on are brand names like Estrostep, Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Yasmin. Yasmin, in particular, has progestin, which works almost similar to spironolactone, an anti-androgenic drug that may also be used to treat hormonal acne.

Diane-35, while not available in the United States, is widely available in Europe, Canada and other countries. Like Yasmin, dermatologists also find that this is very effective against controlling hormonal acne. The components of Diane-25 include cyproterone, which blocks both androgen and progestin hormones.

How to use contraceptive pills to treat hormonal acne?

Each packet of contraceptives normally contains 28 tablets, with 21 similar-colored pills, and 7 pills in a different set of colors. It’s the first 21 pills that have the ingredients needed to control acne development. But you would use this the same way as you would take it for birth control, by drinking all 28 pills during one menstrual cycle.

The effects of using contraceptive pills don’t have immediate manifestations. Sometimes, the difference can be seen after three months.


Unfortunately, use of contraceptive pills for hormonal acne treatment does come with some side effects, which is why this must only be administered with the doctor’s knowledge. These manifestations develop because the body may still be adjusting to the hormone boost. But do look out for the following signs below, if the condition becomes persistent and unbearable and then contact your doctor to avoid complications.

  • Intolerable headaches
  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Unusual weight gain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Tenderness of the breast
  • Anxiety and depression

In extreme cases, oral contraceptives have been known to cause cancer, which is why opting for this treatment for acne requires a great deal of tests and considerations.

Additionally, because treatment involves dealing with hormones, the effects may also be unpredictable, so much so that you may have to use different types of oral contraceptives first, before you can find the right one your body responds to better.


Women beyond 35 years old, however, are advised against this treatment especially if they suffer from frequent migraines, as the estrogen will only escalate the pain.

Similarly, women who have a medical history that includes breast or liver cancer or cardiovascular disease, are to be cautioned into taking this.

This treatment also does not work for women who smoke, or have developed blood clotting at one point in their lives.

If you are considering the use of oral contraceptives for the treatment of acne, consult your doctor, and make sure that you understand all the health risks associated with oral contraceptives so that you can make an informed decision.