If you struggle with flare-ups of acne and breakouts, then we hear you. We developed the Sönd skincare brand of alkalising products because we also have acne prone skin, and we simply couldn't find the right products to suit our contrary skin.
In researching the right ingredients for our products, we became veritable experts in all the treatments that claim to improve flare-ups, from mild to severe acne. This knowledge includes that of hormonal acne in women and how birth control pills can be beneficial for women who have acne.
Will the Birth Control Pill Cause Acne to Become Better?
Using the oral contraceptive pill has many benefits for managing the symptoms of painful, heavy or irregular periods and as an effective form of contraception.
Some women experience acne and question whether it will also help improve their symptoms as birth control pills contain hormones, or lead it to break out more. So in this article, we’ll address the common questions, including can contraceptives improve acne? Or could they possibly cause acne that's related to hormones, to become more upsetting?
Should I Start Taking Birth Control to Clear Up Acne?
If your break outs are moderate or severe, one of the treatments doctors in the UK advise is oral contraception. It can be especially useful if you’re female and suffer moderate or severe breakouts around the time of your period, or you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
However, a holistic approach to managing problem skin is always a better place to start. Trying skincare such as our alkalising range of cleansers and moisturisers will nourish your skin from deep within the lower layers and give it what it needs.
Also, trialling different diet and lifestyle regimes can assist in treating spots naturally. Finding the cause of your acne and making the relevant lifestyle changes will help, before making the decision to try medications such as contraception to manage your break outs.
If your complexion problems are down to a hormonal imbalance, such as around the time of your period, you could try managing your hormones more naturally with stress reduction techniques. For example, regularly journalling and practising yoga and mindfulness.
How Does Birth Control Treat Acne?
Using birth control pills for acne is thought to work because break outs are quite often triggered by hormone levels. Male hormones called androgens can sometimes lead to the overproduction of sebum, the waxy substance that's produced naturally by the skin.
Sebum can clog the pores and lead to a worsening of your acne, so using birth control pills to help manage androgen levels and subsequently sebum production can be helpful. Annoyingly, oily skin and acne often go hand in hand.
You will need to use it for two to three months to see if it’s going to have a positive effect on acne and your skin.
Can Birth Control Make Hormonal Acne Worse?
In some women, the birth control pill can make acne worse. This is particularly true for the progesterone or progestogen-only pill, also called the mini pill as opposed to the combined pill that contains both progesterone and oestrogen.
The hormonal implant can also lead to acne prone skin appearing more aggressive in some women. Unfortunately, it may be a case of trial and error to see if a hormonal contraceptive is one of the better treatment options for you.
How Quickly Can the Pill Clear Acne?
If you're really struggling, then you'll want to know how long treatment might take. If the contraceptive pill is going to cause a significant improvement in your acne, you should notice an improvement in spots, pustules and breakouts within two to three months.
It’s important to persevere throughout this time, as it will take time for the hormone levels in your body to adjust, and have an impact on your skin.
How Do I Treat Acne After Coming off the Pill?
The treatment of acne can be tricky to get right, and it can take several months of treatment, but don't lose hope. If, after three months your skin hasn't improved or is worse, your doctor can help. They may be able to change your hormonal birth control to a different brand or suggest that you stop taking the pill altogether.
Your GP may also prescribe different medications for moderate to severe acne to see if they're more beneficial at managing your symptoms. These can include antibiotics, medications to kill the skin bacteria linked with acne and other hormone based medications that work differently to contraceptive pills.
What's the Best Birth Control for Acne?
There are various different types of birth control pills that contain hormones that can help. Your doctor will be able to give advice on the best contraceptive pill for acne based on your personal medical history, age and lifestyle.
What works for someone you know may not necessarily work for you, so it’s important that you listen to your doctor's advice and only use the pill you’ve been prescribed, exactly as you’ve been instructed.
What's the Best Combined Pill for Acne in the UK?
There are many different types and brands of the contraceptive pill, and sadly, it may be a case of trial and error to find the right one for you.
But in general, the combined oral contraceptive pill can help reduce acne and is thought to have the highest chance of being successful. Your doctor will also prescribe one that has a very low androgen level.
After Stopping Treatments for Acne, Will My Skin Flare Up Again?
If you use the pill to help treat acne and it’s successful, you may notice that when you stop, your symptoms may return. This will depend on various circumstances such as how old you are and whether any underlying health conditions that are causing your cases of acne, such as PCOS, are under control.
If you’re past your teenage years and early 20s, your hormones may have levelled enough such that they no longer cause your acne symptoms. Coming off the pill and giving it a month or so will help you and your doctor determine whether or not your symptoms can be managed without using a birthcontrol pill.
Your doctor can discuss your personal circumstances with you, and discuss switching to a different pill and your options if you’d like to, or need to, come off your prescribed medication.
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Birth Control Pills?
The pill can cause some common side effects, including headaches, nausea, weight gain, mood swings or changes and sore or swollen breasts. Using a birth control pill can also cause your periods to become lighter and less painful, whilst it can also cause spotting between your periods.
More seriously, it can lead to pain in the chest or abdomen, swelling of the legs and blurred vision - all of which should be investigated by your doctor as soon as possible. Call 111 or visit A&E if you feel seriously unwell.
Taking the pill can also lead to changes in the skin, as discussed in this article.
Can I Have an IUD and Use the Oral Contraceptive Pill for Acne?
It would be very unusual for your doctor to prescribe both a hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) and the combined contraceptive pill, as both are designed to do the same job.
However, you may be able to use a non-hormonal IUD for birth control and still be prescribed the oral contraceptive pill to help manage your acne prone skin. Speak to your doctor for more advice.
Does the Contraceptive Pill Help with Acne if it's Mild?
The answer to this question is most appropriately answered by your doctor or skin specialist, in conjunction with you. It may be a case of trying the pill with the aim of helping to cure your acne and giving it a few months to see the real time results.
So make an appointment with your GP or ask your specialist skin doctor for advice on taking birth control for acne. Not all women are suitable for it, including those over 30 years old, or who smoke, are obese or have underlying health conditions.
But if you're suitable, it’s worth trying it for a few months to see what effect it has on your acne prone skin.
Considering Acne Treatment?
The most positive outcomes are often those that have a multi-faceted approach. As using birth control pills can help reduce the severity and frequency of your breakouts, this could mean supporting these medications with the right skincare.
And as luck would have it, you're in the right place! Our range of alkalising skincare products was developed with a complexion just like yours (and ours) in mind. Support your skin from deep within the lower layers and promote your healthiest glow yet!
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.