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The Pill Fights Acne. Should You Take It?


Good news if you're fighting hormonal acne: A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that a drug combination can help women with severe acne. Researchers gave a group of 27 women the combination of spironolactone (a diuretic) and oral contraceptive Yasmin, and the results are fantastic:

At the end of the study, 11 percent of women were entirely clear of acne lesions, 74 percent had excellent improvement, 7.4 percent had mild improvement, and 7.4 percent had no change.

All in all, 85% of women saw marked improvement in their complexions. Huzzah! This doesn't shock me, though; birth control pills regulate hormones, which can keep acne from flaring up. Being on the Pill has kept my jawline much clearer, that's for sure. For some pros and cons of using the Pill to combat blemishes, read more.

Pros of the Pill

  • It minimizes cystic acne and recurring breakouts, especially along the jawline.
  • It leads to lighter periods with less cramping.
  • If you're already looking for a birth control method, this one keeps your face clear.
  • You can easily stop taking the Pill if you're unhappy with it.
  • You won't wind up with Junior before you're ready.

Cons of the Pill

  • You have to take it at the same time every day, which is a large commitment if you're using it for acne alone.
  • You shouldn't take the Pill if you're a smoker.
  • You could experience mood swings, changes in weight, or other side effects.
  • It can cost up to $55 per month.

Not to sound like a pharmaceutical commercial, but only you and your doctor can decide whether you should go on the Pill. Personally, I love having easier periods and a clearer face. (In fact, whenever I've gone off the Pill, I become the de facto mayor of Pimpletown.) But if you're not concerned about contraception, and you're interested in the Pill only because of its acne-fighting abilities, be sure to talk with your physician about the side effects and small-but-real risks.

And one last thing: Some prescriptions, like Yasmin and Ortho Tri-Cyclen, have received FDA approval to treat acne. That's why their ads tout this as an added benefit. But many, if not all, oral contraceptives will fight acne. So don't panic if your doctor prescribes a version that isn't marketed that way; more than likely, it'll get the job done just as well.

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