Acne and Birth Control | Does the Pill Help the Pimples?

Hormones affect your complexion. In particular, your sex hormones (called androgens) have the greatest effect on your sebum levels than any other hormone. Therefore, taking oral contraceptives can indeed clear up your skin, but it’s no guarantee.

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How does birth control help your acne?

Sebum is the oily substance your skin cells release to protect your skin, while also keeping it healthily moist. Sebum is a necessary ingredient for healthy skin, however excess sebum can cause an oily complexion and acne-prone pores. What causes your sebum levels to rise and fall? A major contributor are your sex hormones (androgens).

Oral contraceptives contain two hormones, progestin and estrogen, which regulate your hormonal patterns and reduce your androgen levels (which stimulate your sebum production). This suppression of sex hormones decreases the level of oil produced by the glands in your skin cells and lowers the likelihood of breakouts caused by pore blockage.

Because the pill only targets the hormonal cause of acne, it is best to use in conjunction with other treatments to alleviate the other causes (bacteria, skin shedding, etc.).

Pros of using birth control with acne:

Clinical studies show that taking birth control in conjunction with supplementary acne treatments can result in:

  • Decreased skin inflammation
  • Reduction in overall severity of acne
  • Less frequent breakouts

Cons of using birth control with acne:

As with almost any prescription medication, there are some side effects to look out for. Hormonal therapies in particular affect everyone drastically different, so if any of the side-effects below become intolerable, contact your doctor immediately and change your treatment:

  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Changes in menstrual cycle

Should you use birth control to help your acne?

If you experience your most severe breakouts right before your period, you are likely a candidate for birth control.

Some oral contraceptives have been approved by the FDA in the treatment of acne. That being said your physician will hesitate to prescribe you the pill if:

  • You smoke
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You experience migraine headaches
  • You are not already menstruating

The bottom line about Acne and Birth Control:

A treatment plan combining birth control and other acne medication could be your best bet to get clear, especially if your acne is not relieved by other methods or in cases triggered by hormonal activity. When considering birth control for acne, it is best to consult a dermatologist in person so that he/she can adequately examine you and explain the risks involved with the treatment before prescribing it.

About us: YoDerm is the only way to get a prescription medication safely and legally online. Each of our dermatologists are board-certified and will treat your acne within 24 hours. If you’re struggling to get clear, click here, and let us help you.


  1. “Effect of Birth Control Pills on Acne in Women.” Cochrane Fertility Regulation Group(2012): n. pag. PubMed. Web. <>.
  2. “Birth Control for Acne Treatment: Types, Benefits, Risks.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. <>.
  3. “Birth Control Pills for Acne.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Sept. 2011. Web. <>.

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