When you were a teenager, you hoped your acne would go away the minute you turned 20. Unfortunately, acne remains a problem for some women into adulthood. You may have severe acne constantly, or you may break out around your period. If acne remains a problem to you, several methods of treating it exist, including taking birth control pills or for severe cases, taking acne pills. Acne pills can present serious risks to women who wish to become pregnant, though.
Taking an oral contraceptive that contains a mix of estrogen and progestin can help clear up certain types of acne, according to MayoClinic.com. Birth control helps to reduce the amount of sebum, or oil, that your body produces. Some acne forms when excess sebum combines with dead skin cells and blocks a hair follicle. You may need to also use other acne-fighting treatments, such as topical creams or cleansers containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, to get the best results.
Birth Control Risks
Using birth control to fight acne presents the same risks as using birth control for contraceptive reasons. It can increase your risk of heart attack or blood clots, may lower your libido and can cause headaches, nausea or depression, according to MayoClinic.com. Taking birth control for acne is not advisable if you are over age 35 and smoke. You also shouldn’t take it if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
Your doctor may prescribe an acne pill, isotretinoin, for severe acne that does not respond to any other treatment. The name brand form of isotretinoin used to be Accutane, however, Accutane was taken off the market in the summer of 2009. The drug is a retinoid, a form of vitamin A. It works by reducing the amount of sebum produced by the body. Most people on the acne pill will see permanent results in a few months.
Risks of Isotretinoin
Isotretinoin has several side effects, ranging from mild ones, such as dry mouth and an upset stomach, to more severe ones, such as depression and suicide ideation, according to WebMD. Taking isotretinoin can raise your cholesterol and may lead to pancreatitis. Your doctor should monitor your cholesterol levels if you go on the drug. Pregnant women should definitely not take isotretinoin, as it can cause serious birth defects and miscarriages.
The FDA has established a program known as iPledge to prevent pregnant women from taking isotretinoin and to attempt to prevent women from becoming pregnant while on the drug. Before a doctor can prescribe the pill, the patient needs to take two separate pregnancy tests and have each be negative. Once on isotretinoin, women must use two forms of birth control and take a pregnancy test monthly. The results of the test need to be negative for the patient to receive a refill. Fortunately, the risk of birth defects goes away once the medicine is stopped.
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