The birth control pill is the most used form of contraceptive, with millions of women across the globe taking it. Although the birth control pill is effective, it’s not without side effects. When researching the right contraceptive pill, you might discover that some options can cause acne. You might also find out that doctors recommend various birth control pills to treat acne and other skin conditions. It can all be so confusing. What makes some pills have adverse effects on the skin? You can’t be 100% certain of the impact that a particular oral contraceptive might have on your skin. Therefore, knowing a few basics of how it all works is crucial.
The Composition of Oral Contraceptive Pills
Birth control pills are available in two forms – one containing progestin, a synthetic form of the hormones progesterone and estrogen. The other type, which is the mini-pill, has only progestin. How each of these pills affect the skin varies among individuals. Hormones impact the skin in different ways, which is why OCPs can cause acne. To know how that happens, you should learn the relationship between hormones and the skin.
Effects of Hormones on Skin
The menstrual cycle causes hormones to fluctuate differently across the entire period. In the cycle’s first half, estrogen is more dominant than the other hormones, while progesterone takes over in the second half. As the bleeding days approach, the levels of both hormones even up. The amount of testosterone doesn’t change. Increased progesterone stimulates higher sebum production, leading to clogged pores, oily skin, and inflammatory acne. It’s why some women experience premenstrual acne flare-ups.
Androgens, which include testosterone, can also cause oily skin. Some forms of synthetic progesterone can have negative effects on the skin for some people. Besides acne, birth control pills can also cause dry skin. Estrogen decreases oil production by suppressing the release of androgens. Some pills can limit sebum production too much, leading to dry skin. Furthermore, the hormone fluctuation can increase the risk of melasma for people with a predisposition to the condition.
Reducing Acne Caused by the Pill
How do you get rid, or at least minimize, acne caused by oral contraceptives? A combination pill might be the right solution for you. If you are on a progestin-only contraceptive, then switching to an estrogen-progestin OCP instead can clear up acne.
Don’t stop your skincare routine when you get on the pill. Some people figure that because some OCPs treat acne that regular skin care is not necessary. If you don’t already have a routine, start one, particularly if oily skin becomes an issue. Find suitable topical and spot treatments for your acne.
Getting on a new birth control pill can cause havoc in the body, including skin breakouts, especially during the first three months. Antibiotics can help a great deal. Consult a doctor about prescribing antibiotics to calm the chaos that your skin is experiencing.
In instances where the pill causes overly dry skin, moisturization is key. You need to provide your skin with enough moisture due to the limited oil production. Find a moisturizer that responds well to your skin type.
Selecting a Pill
Oral contraceptives vary widely, and so do the effects. Bodies react differently to the pill, and what might cause hormonal acne in you might be fine for another person. For this reason, learn to pick OCPs that suit your body.
Birth control pills with high progesterone and androgens levels are more likely to cause hormonal acne. Note that synthetic progesterone comes in various types, and that too determines the effects of a particular contraceptive. Work with your healthcare provider to find the most effective pill for you. Apart from acne, the pill has various other side effects that you should consider, like headaches, increased risks of blood clots, and irregular bleeding (although studies have found side effects to be mild or absent for most users).
The contraceptive pill works wonders in terms of birth control, but it can be a nightmare for your skin. Acne is one of the side effects that OCPs have in some people. Understand how different birth control pills affect your body and choose what works best.