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Post in Acne-Prone Skin

birth control for acne?

I went to the derm 3 months ago and was prescribed Aczone Gel and Solodyn and it works wonderfully, but I still get a few pimples right before my period (I get cystic acne around my jawline/chin). I have my followup visit Wednesday and she might prescribe me birth control since I'm still getting some right before my period. I'm not sure I want to go on birth control though because to me it's not a long term solution, I can't be on it for the rest of my life and I've heard horror stories of the acne that comes back when you stop. Do any of you ladies take it for acne, and would you recommend it? The only other option I know is spironolactone, which I highly doubt she'll prescribe because she didn't mention it when we were discussing hormonal acne treatment options.

Re: birth control for acne?

I've been through what feels like millions of different acne regimens.  Bactrim, doxycycline, solodyn, tazorac, retin-A, clindamycin, etc.  You name it, I've been on it.  I have horrible hormonal acne and none of it really worked for me until I started birth control.  I still had a few breakouts here and there when I was on the birth control along with an oral antibiotic, but it was significantly better than being on an oral antibiotic and topical alone.  I will admit that when I went off it for about a year just to test the waters, my acne came back with a vengeance.  I wouldn't say it was worse than before I had started, but it was just awful to have to start all over again since that cystic acne is SO hard to get rid of.


Because I still would get small breakouts while on birth control, my derm did add spironolactone to my regimen about a year ago and cut out the antibiotic.  I'm completely acne free now and it feels AWESOME.  I do have to get my blood drawn every three months to check my potassium levels, but it's worth it to me. 


If you're nervous about the birth control and your hormonal acne truly isn't that bad (a few pimples around your period, although annoying, doesn't sound out of control to me) I would definitely bring up the idea of starting spironolactone.  You can titrate your dosing based on how your skin looks and feels.

Re: birth control for acne?

It really isn't that bad, my derm said it's pretty mild because I only get a few around my period and some random ones occasionally, but I do scar really bad. I also don't have irregular periods or any other symptoms that might be related to a hormonal imbalance. Also, will you have to get your blood drawn every three months as long as your on it, or is it something they only watch for a while when you start it? Seems like a hassle, but worth it if it clears me!

Re: birth control for acne?

I've been on spironolactone for over a year now and I still get my blood drawn every three months.  I haven't received any indication from my dermatologist that the blood draws would stop.  I think that's something your dermatologist would make the final judgement call on.  In the grand scheme of things getting my blood drawn 4 times a year really isn't that bad.

Re: birth control for acne?

The patch (EVRA), which I have been on for four years, is one of your best options.  Because it's slow and steady stream of hormone, you don't get ups and downs.  It's a constant induction which not only gets rid of symptoms like headaches but also gets rid of acne. In my four years, I have had only a couple pimples every couple months compared to my usual mine trap.  I would definitely look into it.

Re: birth control for acne?

There are low doses of birth control, so it shouldn't cause side effects, if you may experience any - I never did. Ortho Tricyclen and O.T.Low are one of the first to help with acne. Did the doctor mention a blood test, to test hormone levels? If you are experience pain, rather than cramps, like you can't get out of bed during that time, birth control will help. I prefer pills as they are easier to stop or change, if needed. My acne has not been worse, only much better, and over the years I've used topicals, currently using Aczone which helped very fast as it's not salicylic acid nor benzyol peroxide.

Re: birth control for acne?

I've heard a lot about those for acne. While I think they would help me a lot, I'm still on the fence because I will eventually have to come off of it. Also, the hassle of finding the right birth control. I've heard a lot of things about really bad mood swings and weird symptoms when people start birth control and they had to change a lot to find the right one for them. She didn't say anything about hormone tests because my period are regular, and that's why she didn't put me on birth control three months ago, she wanted to see how the topical and antibiotic would help. I get cramps, but only on the first day of my period and they're not bad, I can just take some pamprin or something and they're gone. 

Re: birth control for acne?

Personally I've been on both version of OT and didn't have any symptoms, reviews are usually of the few people who it didn't work for rather than those who did Smiley Happy


As for the hormone test, it was actually my dermatologist who suggested it, not because of how my period was to see if my acne is more bacterial (for antibiotics) or for a imbalance, which birth control would help. I take BC for something else first anyways, acne is a second priority for me, even though mine isn't really either hormonal or bacterial. You can always cut back dairy (if a big dairy eater) to see if it helps acne since it's extra hormones.


If do you decide BC, you'll know soon enough if it works and remember the typical pill dosage is just taking 3 weeks of active pills in a row, then 1 week off or take the sugar pills (4th row of pack) and get a period.


Re: birth control for acne?

Everyone is different but I got back on birth control just for my acne. I've already made my decision not to have children so being on birth control for the duration is no big thing for me. I found that the year I went off birth control nothing seemed to work for my acne. It didn't get worse, it just wasn't getting better. Since being back on birth control I've had months acne free with only minor breakouts if I get stressed. You can always try it for a year and if you don't like it, you can stop.

Re: birth control for acne?

I was prescribed Ortho Tri Cyclen Lo to help with my cystic acne and to regulate my period. I was on Seasonique the year before, but it gave me two horrible cystic acne breakouts. I'm not exaggerating lol, at one point, I had 50 cystic pimples on my forehead alone.


It took about 2 months for the OTC Lo to finally help my skin. I've been on it for 6 months now, and I don't get any more breakouts whatsoever. I'll get a little whitehead on my nose every now and then, but that's because I have dry skin, and it goes away a day later.


I think Ortho Tri Cyclen would be a good option for you to try because it is FDA approved for acne. My OB prescribed the Lo version for me because the estrogen dosage is lower, and the dosage gradually increases over 21 days.  The higher dosage of estrogen and persistent dose for 84 days from Seasonique angered my skin, according to my doctor. 

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