Going Off Birth Control = Acne
We got to work doing everything we could to reduce symptoms and build Emily up before coming off the pill. Including, and heres the real talkskin almost always gets worse before it gets better.
Did you cringe a bit with that last sentence? I know, I hate that I have to say it, but it is true.
And think about it, your skin is not your most vital organ. So, your body being wise, takes to healing the most important organs first.
The pill creates gut inflammation, suppresses healthy hormones, and burdens the liver so that it cant clear out unnecessary hormones. This is why so many women experience Post-Birth Control Syndrome and can have a horrendous acne flare when they finally stop birth control pills altogether.
But it doesnt have to be this way. In fact, in my practice, we create individualized protocols and plans for each woman who decides to come off the pill.
Who Can Take Birth Control For Acne
Depending on the brand of birth control, you may need to be at least 14 to 15 years old to use birth control for acne, but you should certainly have already started menstruation. Your provider will also evaluate you to make sure you dont have any health conditions that make taking birth control potentially dangerous, including:
Migraine headaches with visual changes ;
History of blood clots or blood clotting disorder
High blood pressure
Being over 35 years of age
Liver or gallbladder disease
History of breast or uterine cancer
Women with a history of migraines with aura, blood clots, or high blood pressure have a higher risk of having a stroke if they take estrogen-containing birth control pills. This also applies to women who are older than 35 years old, especially if they smoke.
In the case of liver or gallbladder disease, birth control pills can make these illnesses worse. And birth control may not be an option for women with a history of breast or uterine cancer because the added estrogen might make their cancer come back.
Which Birth Control Is Best For Hormonal Acne
There are several hormonal birth control methods on the market. Oral contraceptive pills remain one of the most popular forms. There are two types of birth control pills: combination pills and minipills . Different forms of hormonal birth control include:;
To treat acne, a dermatologist will prescribe a combined oral contraceptive pill, which contains both estrogen and progestin. The Food and Drug Administration has approved four birth control pills for acne treatment: Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, Beyaz, and Yaz.;
Don’t Miss: Do Testosterone Supplements Really Work
Side Effects Of Oral Antibiotics
Taking a regular dose of oral antibiotics can result in:
- Bacterial resistance
- Yeast overgrowth
- A variety of rashes
In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, research showed that during a six-month period, oral contraceptives reduced acne by 61.9%, while antibiotics resulted in 57.9% improvement.
So, are oral contraceptives a better option than antibiotics? Numerous studies have shown that antibiotics and birth control pills have shown similar success in improving acne symptoms, but the pill is a great alternative for avoiding the drawbacks of antibiotics.
Why We Develop Acne After Stopping Birth Control
There are several factors that contribute to post-birth control syndrome acne. Many of which are a direct result of what birth control has done to our bodies while on it.
Alice explained that her skin seemed oily within the first couple months of stopping the pill. What followed were small zits on her chin and jawline the week before her period. When she presented in my office she was noticing acne that was deeper and more inflamed 10 days before her period.
It seems to be coming on sooner and sooner and Im afraid my face is going to look like this all the time, she shared during her first visit with me.
There were several reasons why Alices skin was rebelling and they are common after coming off of hormonal birth control.
Don’t Miss: How To Balance Your Estrogen Levels
Is Menopausal Acne A Form Of Hormonal Acne
Many women begin to experience menopause in their 40s and 50s. This causes a natural decline in your reproductive hormones, resulting in an end to menstruation.
Some women experience acne during menopause. This is likely due to a drop in estrogen levels or an increase in androgen hormones like testosterone.
You may still experience menopausal acne even if youre using hormone replacement therapies to ease your menopause symptoms. This is because some HRTs use an influx of the hormone progestin to replace the estrogen and progesterone your body loses. Introducing this hormone to your system can cause your skin to break out.
In most cases, prescription medication can clear up menopausal acne. Some women may find success using natural treatment methods. Talk to your doctor about which options may be right for you.
What Else Causes Acne
Birth control certainly isnt the only factor that can trigger acne. The following things can also make non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne flare:
- Natural hormonal changes during puberty and adulthood.
- A history of acne in your family.
- Use of steroid medications, including prednisone.
- Cosmetics that clog the pores.
- Rubbing or placing pressure on skin.
- A yeast infection of the hair follicles.
- Irregular hygiene habits.
- Ingrown hairs.
Recommended Reading: What Causes Testosterone To Be Low
Can Birth Control Pills Cause Acne
Some contraceptives are progestin-only and do not contain any estrogen. Such birth control pills are known as mini-pills. Acne sufferers should avoid these pills at all costs as they can exacerbate existing acne, rather than reducing it.
In one study, 30-40% of women using progestin-only birth control reported worse acne upon using these methods. Another study reported acne present in 34% of women on mini-pills, compared to 8% of those on combination pills and 18% of those on the copper IUD.
Copper-releasing implantable contraception is non-hormonal and thus has no impact on acne. If we use this as a baseline acne rate for the group, we can gauge that mini-pills almost doubled the rate of acne in women.
Here are some popular progestin-only methods that may worsen acne:
- Progestin-only pills Camila, Errin, Heather, Jolivette, Norethindrone, etc.
- Implant Nexplanon
- Shot Depo-Provera
- IUDs Mirena, Kyleena, Skyla, and Liletta
Remember that the ParaGard IUD is not a hormonal contraceptive. Also please note that this list is not comprehensive. Confirm to your doctor to make sure you arent using progestin-only contraception.
How Does Hormonal Acne Affect Women
For women, hormone levels fluctuate throughout their monthly cycle. Estrogen is what some dermatologists call “the happy skin hormone” – it helps the complexion stay young, clear, and firm. Balanced levels of estrogen typically mean glowing skin! However, this pesky hormone peaks during the second week of a woman’s cycle, during ovulation, and dips just before their period begins. During this dip, a progesterone surge happens, which causes many women to experience breakouts. Women in perimenopause or past menopause may also experience hormonal acne symptoms since estrogen tends to diminish with age.
Read Also: Can Dogs Be Given Melatonin
Does Nexplanon Help With Acne
Nexplanon is a type of hormonal birth control that looks like a small plastic rod and is inserted just below the skin. Nexplanon, in particular, is a progestin-only contraceptive. The progestin used is called etonogestrel and in some studies ~12-13% of those using Nexplanon have reported new or worsening acne.;
Take A Look At Your Diet
Decreasing your intake of high-glycemic foods, like sugar and refined carbohydrates, may help with acne. “Sugar and refined carbohydrates are rapidly digested and absorbed in your body, which results in a drastic increase in your blood sugar ,” says Tamar Samuels, MS, RDN, NBC-HWC, a registered dietitian, national boardâcertified health and wellness coach, and co-founder of Culina Health. “Elevated blood glucose triggers a reactive and exaggerated release of the hormone insulin into your bloodstream. High levels of insulin in the blood trigger the release of growth hormones that are known to increase sebum production, unregulated cellular growth, and androgen production, all of which are involved in the development of pimples.”
Registered dietitian Claire Virga, RDN, MS, CDN, of Rooted Wellness adds that a diet primarily made up of unprocessed foods and focused on fruits, vegetables, high-fiber legumes, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein may provide some protection against hormonal acne.
You May Like: How Can You Raise Your Testosterone
Hormonal Acne Isnt Normal
Everyone has occasional acne and blemishes. Breaking out when youre going through stressor even a few zits around your menstrual cyclecan all be 100% normal. But painful, chronic cystic acne as an adult is a result of hormonal imbalances, and its not normal or something you should have to live with.
But theres one big problem: the #1 prescribed solution for hormonal acne doesnt actually solve the problem.
Thats right, treating hormonal acne with the birth control pill doesnt actually solve the problem. There is a root cause of hormonal acne, and you can treat hormonal acne naturally. Once you know what is REALLY behind your hormonal acne, you can take steps toward healing it.
How Long Does It Take To Clear Acne
As indicated in the first study, birth control doesnt clear acne overnight. It can take up to six months to see good results. Also keep in mind that the 55% reduction mark is only a calculated average, so not all women will reach that potential.
In contrast, antibiotics seem to work much faster, reaching their full potential within the first three months. However, frequent and long-term use of antibiotics is generally not recommended. Issues of toxicity and antibiotic-resistant infections can be dangerous.
Frequent use of antibiotics can also cause gut problems, which can in turn cause acne according to some studies. Taking into consideration these long-term damaging effects, birth control pills provide a much safer option for acne treatment.
Don’t Miss: How Much Is Estrogen Shots
How Long Until Acne Clears After Stopping Taking Birth Control
As mentioned before, it takes several months for your hormones to normalize after coming off the pill. However, every womans body is different, so its hard to make a blanket statement to predict your acne patterns upon stopping birth control pills.
It will generally take at least 3-4 cycles for post-pill acne to resolve. Doctors also recommend using preventative measures before you come off the pill to suppress some of the effects of post-pill acne.
How To Prevent Back Acne
Body acne occurs when bacteria infect the hair follicles. This causes inflammation around hair follicles. Acne often occurs after puberty, especially during the adolescent years.;
It can also occur in adults who are overweight or are not active. Body acne can be prevented by following these simple steps:
1) Shower after each workout- Remember to wash your body carefully after each workout session to remove the sweat and dirt on the skin.
2) Clean your armpits- Clean underarms with antibacterial soap twice a day since it is the most prone area for acne.
3) Dont share towels or clothes- Always use your own towel or clothes. Bacteria from other peoples clothes can cause acne.
4) Wash your face before going to bed daily.
5) Use a clean bed sheet daily.
6) Drink lots of water and follow a healthy diet.
7) Do not use antibacterial soaps or soaps containing alcohol since they can damage your skin.
Don’t Miss: Which Iud Has Less Hormones
Traditional Treatments For Hormonal Acne
Unless your hormonal acne is mild, over-the-counter products usually arent successful.
This is because hormonal acne typically takes the form of cystic bumps. These bumps form deep under the skin, out of reach of most topical medications.
Oral medications can work from the inside out to balance your hormones and clear up the skin. Common options include oral contraceptives and anti-androgen drugs.
How Can Birth Control Prevent Acne
Acne is a direct result of an imbalance of hormones produced by the ovaries: estrogen and progesterone . Sometimes, when the ovaries produce estrogen, it gets turned into progesterone it is the excess of this hormone that can lead to acne. Fortunately, birth control pills turn this function off, preventing the excess of male hormones in your system. More specifically, being on the pill creates a protein that binds to the extra male hormones, resulting in less production of them.
Don’t Miss: Does Viagra Help Low Testosterone
What Are The Symptoms Of Hormonal Acne
For teenagers, hormonal acne breakouts in teenage girls will often appear in the same places as the typical teen acne, forehead, cheeks around the mouth, and chin.
In adult women, hormonal acne is located in different areas, on the lower half of the face, around the mouth, chin, and lower jawline. Though the chin and jawline are the most common locations for hormonal acne, pimples can also appear on the face and neck sides.
Like teen acne, hormonal acne will include (comedones( blackheads and whiteheads, papules, pustules, a cyst. Many women with hormonal acne will also have under-skin bumps = cysts that are not red and are not seen on the skin’s surface.
Is There A Way To Balance Hormones Without Birth Control
There are several medications besides birth control that can help balance hormones and effectively treat acne. One of the most effective is called Spironolactone , an oral medication used to treat high blood pressure does not contain hormones or synthetic hormones. It’s actually a diuretic that works as an androgen blocker, which means it blocks the effects of male hormones in the body like testosterone, contributing to oil production and, ultimately, acne.
Don’t Miss: How To Check Your Estrogen Levels At Home
Is Severe Acne A Sign Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder that causes cysts to develop in the ovaries. Sometimes, PCOS prevents women from ovulating every month, resulting in irregular and/or painful periods. Severe hormonal acne can be a sign of PCOS, but not always. Symptoms normally show up around an individuals first menstrual cycle during puberty. Irregular periods excess facial and body hair, and trouble losing weight are some of the most common symptoms for PCOS. Going on birth control pills can help balance the hormones and, thus, decrease the severity of symptoms.
Acne After Stopping Birth Control: How Long Does It Last
My clinical experience shows most women who are actively working to heal their body experience acne flares for the first couple of months post-pill, which decreases generally by months 3-5 off the pill. In women not actively working to undo the effects of the pill, the skin battle is often much longer.
Eight months into working with Emily I got a message with an image attached. It was Emily! The girl who had hid from the camera for years just took her first selfie and sent it to me with this message:
Dear Dr. Brighten,
I can not tell you how amazing it is to see my face looking this good after so many years. Not a single birth control pill could do what Ive been able to do with your help!
I not only look better, but I feel better too. I never told you I was seriously considering an anti-depressant before our first visit because my mood had become so bad. Im glad I found you before I started any other medications.
I feel like I have my life back and Im confident Id never be able to say that if it werent for you.
Read Also: What Is The Best Testosterone
What’s The Best Birth Control For Acne
Quite frankly, there isn’t one.
Emily was experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone and lab testing showed that she was indeed lacking adequate amounts. But her acne persisted.
Thats because the pill doesnt fix acne or regulate hormones for that matter. It simply suppresses it.
And for some women, acne is worse after stopping birth control.
Over 2 years Emily had been on 5 different birth control pills and felt like her skin was getting worse. So, instead of reaching for another new prescription, it was time to take a holistic approach to her skin.
How Does Birth Control Help To Treat Acne
A common cause of acne, especially present among teens, is an imbalance of androgens, a type of hormone found in both men and women, but some people may produce it in higher amounts. One side effect of this overproduction is an increase in sebum, a type of oil that your skin naturally produces. Excess sebum can clog pores which leads to acne.
Birth control, however, can help to regulate hormones, reducing androgen production and thereby decreasing the amount of sebum production, and acne as a result.;
Don’t Miss: How To Test Testosterone Levels At Home
What Is Menopausal Acne
Menopausal acne is when acne appears in women in their 40s and 50s. The cause of menopausal acne is a decrease in estrogen levels or an increase in androgen hormones like testosterone in menopause. Some of the hormonal treatments for menopausal symptoms can also cause hormonal acne. This is especially common in women taking a progestin.
How Does Birth Control Treat And Prevent Acne Breakouts
Millions of people suffer from painful and embarrassing acne breakouts. Unfortunately, they can happen at any time during a persons life, not just during their teenage years. For women especially, acne can be incredibly hard to treat, as it is often related to hormonal fluctuations associated with the menstrual cycle and perimenopause.
Unlike teenage acne, hormonal adult acne is stubborn and if left untreated, can lead to physical discomfort and emotional distress. One way that individuals with a uterus can safely and effectively treat stubborn breakouts is by implementing hormonal birth control. For teenagers and adult women alike, taking the birth control pill can lead to health benefits such as clearer skin, decreased stress, and improved self-esteem. The following content will delve into the relationship between birth control and acne treatment.;
You May Like: Can Your Obgyn Test Your Hormone Levels