Treating Acne with Oral Contraceptives
According to Sharon Peppler, R.Ph., oral contraceptives (or the “birth control pill”) can be an appropriate and effective treatment for acne in some people. Oral contraceptives lower serum testosterone levels (male sex hormones present in both males and females) in the body which may result in less acne. Topical preparations (i.e., Benzoyl Peroxide 5% or 10%), peeling agents (i.e., Retin A) and antibiotics are also useful for controlling acne. Most patients seeking acne treatment use a combination of treatments such as 1) topical preparations and oral contraceptives, or 2) topical preparations and oral antibiotics. Only severe cases of acne would be treated with a combination of oral contraceptives and oral antibiotics.
A note of caution: If you plan to use oral contraceptives as a method of pregnancy prevention and plan to continue taking oral antibiotics to control acne (or for any other reason), you should be aware that oral antibiotics MAY REDUCE the effectiveness of the oral contraceptives. In order to avoid getting pregnant, it is best to use a backup method of contraception during oral antibiotic use and for one week after oral antibiotic treatment has ended.