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Acne and Birth Control Pills

Dear Doctor

Hello, I am switching birth control brands. From ministerin to orthodox tri-cyclin. However, I wanted to know the best way to go about making this transition.  Should I finish my ministrin cycle (I have 3 days left), take the placebo pills, get my period and then start the new brand of pills? Or should I skip the placebo pills and just start straight on the ortho tri-cyclin. I am mainly concerned about my acne.

acne and birth control pills

Dear Patient

It would seem that the best way would be to finish the cycle, take the placebo pills and get your period so that you can start the new pills on day 1. However, please consult the gynaecologist who is prescribing the birth control pills for the best way to switch from one brand to another.

As for the acne, the FDA has approved the following types of oral contraceptive pills (OCP) or birth control pills for the treatment of acne:

Ortho Tri-Cyclen for Acne

Ortho Tri-Cyclen contains an estrogen and a synthetic progesterone (progestin) known as norgestimate.

Estrostep for Acne

Estrostep contains an estrogen and a progestin known as norethindrone.

YAZ for acne

YAZ contains an estrogen and a progestin known as drospirenone.

In addition to these three, Yasmin and Alesse are other OCPs used to treat acne though they have not been approved by the FDA.

These types of birth control pills can help control moderate acne vulgaris since their estrogen and progesterone content lower the amount of androgens in their bodies. Androgens are the hormones which increase sebum (oil) production by the skin and this leads to clogged pores and acne breakouts.

When you start taking the OCPs keep in mind that the acne may first worsen before it improves (as happens with other acne medications).

In addition, note that you need to take these pills for several months before you notice any improvement on your skin (just like with  other acne medications).

Finally, know that you need to combine the use of the birth control pills with other acne treatment measures like the following:

Use an acne face wash twice a day

Washing your face in the morning and evening with an acne face wash like  Clean and Clear Acne Cleanser  which contains 10% Benzoyl peroxide or Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash with Salicylic Acid  which contains Salicylic acid. (Do not use those with salicylic acid if you are allergic to aspirin).

Use and acne moisturizer like Clean and Clear Oil Free Moisturizer with 0.5% Salicylic Acid which contains salicylic acid in the morning and evening.

acne and birth control pills

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