How to use birth control to treat acne

If you’ve ever experienced acne, you know how frustrating it can be to find the right treatment. Acne is a common condition that occurs when the hair follicles in the skin become clogged with oil or dead skin cells.

Acne affects almost everyone at some point and usually subsides by the time people reach their 30s. Acne usually occurs on the face, chest, back and shoulders. Teenagers are at the highest risk for acne.

Some birth control pills (oral contraceptives) are approved to treat acne in women. Because acne is influenced by endogenous hormones, it may be beneficial to stabilize these hormone levels with oral contraceptives.

This article will explain how birth control pills reduce acne and which birth control pills to try.

acne treatment options

How birth control pills work

Birth control pills are oral medications that prevent pregnancy. These medicines contain the hormones progestin and sometimes estrogen. This pill prevents pregnancy by stopping or reducing ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries). These drugs do not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Birth control pills are common in the United States. From 2015 to 2017, an estimated 12.6% of women aged 15-49 used oral contraceptives.

In addition to preventing pregnancy and helping treat acne, oral contraceptives are effective in treating:

  • anemia
  • dysmenorrhea (dysmenorrhea)
  • endometriosis
  • Migraine
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
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8 Progestin Combination Birth Control Pills

All birth control methods have benefits and risks. Never change the method you are using without first talking to your healthcare provider.

Hormones and Acne

The hormones in our body can greatly affect our skin. Hormone-related acne occurs when hormonal changes increase the amount of oil produced in the skin. Acne occurs when pores become clogged, and excess oil can quickly clog pores.

For women, hormone levels naturally change over time. Your hormones change throughout your period, pregnancy, menopause, and anytime you take or stop taking birth control pills.

Pills Approved to Treat Acne

There are four brands of oral contraceptives that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of acne. All of these pills are combination drugs that contain progestin and estrogen. Progestin-only pills (small pills) have not been shown to be effective for acne.

FDA-approved contraceptives for acne include:

  • Yaz (Drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol)
  • O-tricyclic (ethinyl estradiol and progesterone)
  • Beyaz (drospirenone, ethinyl estradiol, and levomefolate)
  • Estrostep FE (ethinyl estradiol, norethisterone acetate and ferrous fumarate)

Does the type of birth control pill you take matter?

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Tips for using the combination birth control pill

side effect

Oral contraceptives have possible side effects and complications that must be considered before starting a new routine. Common side effects include:

  • breast tenderness
  • found during
  • headache
  • nausea
  • irritability

More serious complications may include:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • heart attack
  • hypertension
  • breakthrough bleeding
  • stroke

When to talk to your healthcare provider

If you’re wondering if birth control pills are right for you and your skin, talk to your healthcare provider. They will be able to make specific recommendations and discuss your risk of side effects or complications.

Keep in touch with your healthcare provider once you start a regular regimen of birth control pills. Tell them if you experience any side effects. It helps to keep in mind that it takes about two to three months to start seeing improvement in your acne.


Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. Birth control pills are oral medications that use hormones to prevent pregnancy. Because hormones play a role in the development of acne, combination birth control pills containing progestin and estrogen have been found to be effective in treating acne.

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VigorTip words

If you’ve been battling acne for weeks or years, chances are you’re eager to get rid of it as soon as possible. This common skin condition can affect your self-image and quality of life, so don’t put off talking with your healthcare provider. Ask if oral contraceptives are helpful and what type of side effects to expect.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does birth control take to clear acne?

    Birth control pills usually take about two to three months to start clearing acne and improving the appearance of your skin.

  • Can other birth control methods treat acne?

    Currently, only combined oral contraceptives (containing both progestin and estrogen) are approved for the treatment of acne.

  • How effective are birth control pills?

    Birth control pills have been found to be effective in improving blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and acne nodules.

  • What are some home remedies for acne?

    There are several steps you can take at home to treat or even prevent acne, including:

    • Wash your face twice a day.
    • Use a mild cleanser that doesn’t irritate your skin.
    • Do not scrub or rub the skin vigorously.
    • Try to avoid touching your face.

    understand more:

    Acne Home Remedies That Work (and Some Don’t)