Does Birth Control Help With Acne?

If you struggle with persistent acne, you've probably tried every skin care treatment on the market. Unfortunately, some types of acne can't be successfully treated with topical creams and ointments alone. If you have hormonal acne, which is acne caused by fluctuating hormones, you probably won't see it disappear after switching to a new face wash. This is because those pimples are being caused by internal factors (via Healthline). To target hormonal acne, you need to target your hormones.

There are a few different ways to treat hormonal acne. One way is to begin taking birth control. Birth control works by affecting your hormones and reducing your ability to get pregnant. Those same hormones, specifically androgens, help your body produce sebum, which clogs your pores and can lead to acne (via Scripps). Some birth control pills contain different hormones called estrogen and progesterone, which both reduce androgen levels in the body. This makes them an effective way to treat stubborn hormonal acne.

"Certain types of birth control pills can help treat blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and cystic acne," said Jonathan Dunn, MD, an OB-GYN at Scripps Clinic Carmel Valley. "They can be especially effective in treating stubborn hormonal acne along the jaw, lower face, and neckline when other treatments, such as topical creams and oral antibiotics have not helped." Only certain types of birth control are approved to treat acne, so talk to your doctor about which is the best option for you.

Side effects of birth control

Birth control pills have many potential side effects, so it is important to be aware of these before you begin taking this product. According to Healthline, side effects of the pill include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and bloating. Some people gain weight and others lose weight. You may also experience changes in your period, headaches, dizziness, and fainting. Serious side effects include deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, and stroke.

Because of these side effects, birth control is not safe for everyone to take. "If a person has a history of a blood clotting disorder, is a smoker, or suffers from migraine headaches, they are not good candidates for a birth control pill," dermatologist Julie C. Harper, MD, told Byrdie. Speak with your doctor before trying out birth control for acne. If you are concerned about the side effects of the pill, speak with your dermatologist about other options to treat your hormonal acne. Prescription-strength topical medications may help, as well as pill-based medications like antibiotics.