If you are a pre-menopausal woman with acne, you may want to consider taking birth control to help control your acne, as a hormone imbalance is often the cause of acne in women. If your acne is not responsive to topical treatments and tends to come in cycles (one week before and two weeks after menstruation) then there is a good chance your acne is hormonal.
Hormones and Acne, What’s Going On In Your Body
Acne is an androgenic disorder, which means that it is set off by the effects of the family of hormones called androgens. These include testosterone, DHEA-S and others. Testosterone is the most important of these. While androgens are often thought of as male hormones, this is misleading because adult women have active levels in their blood (but women’s levels are only about a tenth of those found in men).
Many women with hormonal acne have excess testosterone, which stimulates the sebaceous (oil making) glands. The pores plug up and trap the oil inside and then bacteria grows in the trapped oil, causing the production of irritating chemicals. Finally the body’s immune system comes into play, causing the redness, swelling, pus-like fluid and later scarring which make acne so unsightly.
Certain birth control pills can help clear your acne by balancing out your hormones. Typically birth control pills are divided up as estrogen or progestin dominant and have varying degrees of androgenic (testosterone like) effects. As a general rule of thumb, pills with the potential for higher androgenic symptoms should be avoided for people prone to acne because they promote breakouts. As an acne sufferer it is important to speak with your doctor about a selecting a pill that is higher in estrogen and lower in androgen potency.
Here is a list of the brands of birth control pills that are estrogen dominant:
- Diane 35(Dianette)
- Nevicon modicon
- Ortho evra
It is best to avoid the following pills that are high in androgen activity and low in estrogen:
- Estrotrep Fe
- Nuvo ring
- Depoprovera shot
When you go to your doctor, have the list of estrogen dominant birth control pills handy and select the best one for you. Some doctors don’t know off-hand which pills are estrogen dominant and which are progestin dominant.
I want to end by saying this – it is entirely possible to treat acne without going on the pill at all. If you have no underlying health issues that require you to be on birth control and are considering taking birth control pills only to control your acne, please feel free to visit our website or talk with one of our estheticians to get some additional perspective on how Vasseur Skincare’s freshly made, professional strength and highly potent formulations can help you.