Women may respond very well to taking the oral contraceptive pill as a symptom management strategy for acne, as the pill evens out hormones so problem hormones can’t affect the skin as much. While it is not a permanent cure, and the problem will likely return when you stop taking the pill, having clearer skin is sometimes worth it.
The pill, prescribed by the best dermatologists, contains two synthetic hormones that closely resemble a form of oestrogen and progesterone, and act on the equivalent receptors in the body. That means that the synthetic hormone gets to exert the effect of its equivalent hormone, but in an artificial way. What this does is keep the body behaving like it has those hormones at those levels. This has a number of effects on the body, including preventing ovulation and helping clear up acne.
These hormones keep other hormone levels steady, preventing the overabundance of androgens that can cause acne. Androgens directly stimulate skin cells to produce sebum, which in turn causes pores to become blocked, bacteria deep in the pore to remain well-fed, and acne to develop. There is no amount of face scrubbing that can get that deep into the pores to fix this problem, but the pill can circumvent the hormonal cascade that causes acne.
Most often, the best Melbourne dermatologists will use topical treatments and light/energy-based therapies, as well as therapies that act on cells, like the pill, if appropriate. The pill takes a few months to work and is best suited to women who would like to be on birth control anyway, and are not intending to get pregnant anytime soon. The pill is reversible, but the longer you are on it, the longer it can take for periods and ovulation to return to normal afterwards. The pill can be used for short periods of time, like six months, if you had a special event you wanted to clear up your skin for or wanted to take a break to allow other treatments to work, like diet changes or other medication.
There are a few main pills approved for use to manage acne: Ortho-Tri-Cyclen, Estrostep, FE, YAZ and BEYAZ, but any combined birth control pill is likely to have the same effect. This means if you are on the pill already, still with acne problems, you could possibly change the pill you are on for a different effect.
If you do not need contraception, your needs must be balanced with the other risks you will face by being on the pill unnecessarily. There are likely to be more appropriate options, like addressing your diet and using other skin treatments, since the risk of deadly blood clots remains and increases with certain pill types like YAZ and BEYAZ. There are some benefits to being on the pill, however, such as protection against certain types of cancer. These risks and benefits must be discussed with your dermatologist, with your individual circumstances being taken into consideration.
If you smoke, have high blood pressure, have a history of migraines or are pregnant or breastfeeding, the pill is likely not be the best option for you, and you should talk to your Melbourne dermatologist about your safer options.