One of the many causes of cystic acne is hormonal. For many women, the onset and or worsening of cystic acne symptoms come at puberty, during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. All these changes in a woman’s life reflect hormonal changes and thus are a direct link to cystic acne breakouts. Birth control pills do help to relieve cystic acne symptoms but they are not recommended for use during pregnancy or menopause. They work via suppressing sex hormones which have direct links to breakouts. However, not all types of birth control help to relieve acne symptoms; the only suitable birth control is the combination pills.
Birth Control Pills Approved for Cystic Acne Treatment
Birth control pills come as synthetic progesterone or a combination of synthetic progesterone and estrogen. Of the two types, the combination pill is the one used for acne treatment. There are three FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved brands which are Yaz, Estrostep and Ortho Tri-Cyclen.
How Birth Control Reduces Cystic Acne
Cystic acne brought about by hormonal surges at puberty and during the menstrual cycle are due to estrogen and androgens. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels soar around the time of ovulation (the release of the egg). In some people, the rise in estrogen levels causes cystic acne breakouts. The combination pills work to prevent ovulation by suppressing the release of sex hormones from the hypothalamus and thus lowers estrogen levels. The lowering of estrogen causes relief of cystic acne symptoms.
Birth control pills also provide relief from cystic acne by suppressing the release of androgens. These are male sex hormones that the female also makes in small amounts. When birth control pills suppress the release of sex hormones from the hypothalamus, they also hinder the release of androgens. This causes a relief in the symptoms of acne.
The combination pill releases estrogen and progesterone to block the release of sex hormones in the hypothalamus of the brain. By blocking the release of these hormones, they hinder ovulation and thus prevent pregnancy. One of the positive side effects of the combination pill is that it also helps in the relief of cystic acne. By blocking the hormonal release, the combination pill helps to dry up cystic acne and thus reduce its symptoms. Before starting on any type of birth control for acne, it is best to speak with your health care provider.