Most people will deal with acne at one point or another during their lifetime. Whether it’s in the awkward teenage years, or later on as an adult, there is typically no escape from this common skin condition.
In the teenage years, acne can is usually more prevalent due to fluctuations in hormones brought upon by puberty. These hormonal changes can bring increases in oily skin and hair – which can easily clog pores and cause blackheads, whiteheads, and even the deeper, more difficult type of acne.
The acne appearing in the teenage years tends to develop more around the forehead and nose region whereas, in adults, acne is typically found on the lower part of the face. Many people tend to touch the face around the mouth and the jawline, and this can transfer bacteria and dirt onto the skin, which can clog the pores and cause breakouts.
Treatment plans can differ between the teenage years and adulthood, so what you might have used as a teenager may not be the best solution for your adult skin. In the younger years, over the counter products – many containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide were available and widely used to help keep the skin clear. These treatments can be highly irritable to the skin, and dermatologists will typically utilize a different treatment plan as you age. Adult tends also to be deeper and may require a system of treatment.
Your options might include:
Follicle cleansing creams containing retinol from Vitamin A
Antibiotics that can be applied directly to the skin
Hormonal regulatory prescriptions that will help restore balance to the body
Anti-inflammatory medicines along with antibiotics that can be taken orally
For some people, acne is a result of hormonal imbalances in the body.
For many women, the monthly cycle can bring about changes in complexion and for some, severe cystic acne along the jawline and the chin. In these cases, typical treatments including over-the-counter and other prescription topical methods aren’t going to treat the underlying condition.
In recent years, a resurgence has happened with a hormonal management drug called Spironolactone (commonly referred to as “Spiro”), which can be prescribed for women who are experiencing hormonal related acne – especially those for which other more traditional therapies have been unhelpful.
The drug was originally introduced in 1957 and used to treat high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues. It works by blocking androgens, which affect the skin’s sensitivity to testosterone, which is why it isn’t used in males. By limiting the sensitivity to testosterone, the drug can help with acne because this hormone sends oil glands into overdrive – thus resulting in cycle-related breakouts.
Spiro is a diuretic, so one of the common side effects is the increased amount of time spent in the bathroom.
It will also cause your body to hang on to stored potassium, so it’s important to limit high potassium foods as high levels of this can be bad for the heart.
It’s important to note is that Spiro is out of the question for males, and women are warned that they should never become pregnant while using the drug. In the case of males, there is a risk of growing breasts, dissolution of libido, plus the fact that men need testosterone to retain male-like features such as musculature and body and facial hair. In the case of a woman becoming pregnant while on Spiro, there is a chance that a male fetus can develop feminine traits.
Acne is no easy condition. It can lead to social isolation, permanent skin scarring and even anxiety in severe cases.
One of the most effective forms of acne treatments is birth control pills. Dermatologists have been using it for decades to help women achieve healthier, clearer skin. Despite this, only three specific birth control pills have been FDA approved to treat acne.
The advantage of using birth control to treat acne is the fact that it doubles as a contraceptive.
Most dermatologists recommend it after other acne treatments have failed to provide relief, particularly oral antibiotics and topical creams. However, there are still some risks associated with taking birth control for acne. Use this information to make a decision that best suits you.
How Does it Help?
Dermatologists have long since known there is a relationship between hormones and acne. Many women have consistently experienced acne breakouts during their premenstrual cycle which denotes their acne problems relate back to their hormone levels. However, it can persist far beyond the childbearing years and into menopause.
The belief is that acne is triggered by excess sebum production. Sebum is the oil your glands in your skin produce. It can promote bacteria growth alongside skin cells which do the same. Equally, androgens, a group of hormones, encourage your skin to produce sebum.
The ovaries are responsible for producing low levels of androgens, but for some, they produce higher levels of the hormone which can lead to excess sebum production. Because birth control pills contain both estrogen and progesterone, they help regulate the level of androgens in the body. This, in turn, reduces the impact of acne on the skin by lessening the levels of sebum it produces.
Risks Associated with Birth Control
There are several risks tied to the use of birth control pills which you need to be aware of. These include:
Dangerous Blood Clots
Liver and gallbladder disease
Depression and mood changes
Although there are therapies available to the public that include the use of lasers (found at aesthetic clinics) and other light sources, these can be irritating to the skin, painful, and in severe cases can cause scarring.