Occasional skin breakouts are common in women, although some are more prone to severe acne. These skin lesions commonly occur on the face, back, neck, shoulders and chest. Although acne is not a serious threat to health, they leave scars that can be permanent and quite unpleasant. Acne is caused by several factors such as the following:
- Fluctuation of hormones (usually associated with the menstrual cycle)
- High levels of male hormones that is most common among girls in puberty stage
- Skin irritation due to cosmetics or make-up
- Family history of acne
- Side effect of some medications
Although acne can be frustrating, there are several medications that may be used to treat it. Benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, clindamycin, salicylic acid, and resorcinol are some effective treatment for acne. They come in cream or lotion form, and get rid of acne in six to eight weeks.
Severe acne, however, may require other forms of medication that doctors prescribe. Androgen receptor blockers and birth control pills are sometimes recommended by doctors to reduce androgens (male sex hormones) that contribute to the production and worsening of acne. The best birth control pills for acne do not only stop its occurence; they also help in regulating the hormones and in slowing down the overactive oil glands.
Oral Contraceptives as Acne Treatment
The best birth control for acne can effectively treat the condition in these ways:
1. The progestin component in birth control pills lowers the levels of androgen in the body.
2. Oral contraceptives help increase the level of SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulins). These components prevent the conversion of free testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which contribute to the production of acne.
3. The ovaries and adrenal glands are coaxed to produce less free testosterone in the body.
Although all birth control pills help in treating and preventing acne, some work better than the others. These birth control pills have antiandrogens that prevent the stimulation of the skin's oil glands. Since they only target the oil glands, it is best to use them with other medications for acne such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These combined oral contraceptives effective in treating acne approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are the following:
- Ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate (Ortho Tri-Cyclen)
- Ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Estrostep)
- Ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone (Yaz)
Side Effects and Precautions in Using Oral Contraceptives
Birth control pills are basically safe to use; but there are mild side effects that may be experienced while taking them. Among the most common side effects are:
- nausea and vomiting
- dizziness or headache
- breast tenderness
- low libido
- changes in weight and appetite
- spotting or breakthrough bleeding
- change in the menstrual flow
Combined oral contraceptives are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as for those who have certain medical conditions such as liver and/or heart disease, breast and/or uterine cancer, and women aged 35 or older.
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