Do birth control pills cause acne? – How to treat it?

Birth control and acne are often very much interlinked. While some people gush over how birth control has saved their skin and cleared up their acne, others often are vocal about how birth control has worsened their acne. So, what can you trust? According to numerous scientific studies, birth control has been shown to improve skin texture and reduce acne in a number of women for whom topical acne treatments have not really worked. If you combine your birth control with some good acne treatments that are topical in nature you can get flawless, acne free skin easily.

Birth control and Acne

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In order to understand how birth control causes acne, it is key to understand how you can get acne. It is generally caused by fluctuations in the levels of hormones in the body during your puberty, menstrual period, pregnancy or menopause. Stress often increases the severity of acne and since these periods are generally stressful, it can cause a rise in androgens. When the adrenal gland is stimulated, there is an increased rate of sebum production in the follicles, as the pores are filled up with the excess sebum, these combines with impurities, dead skin cells and the bacteria P. acnes, which can lead to the formation of acne. Oily skin types or dry skin types are more prone to acne as in the latter case, overly dry skin can aggravate sebaceous glands to become hyperactive and cause your skin to break out.

If you are wondering whether birth control could worsen the acne on your skin, it can affect both the severity and frequency of your breakouts. Generally, your ovaries and adrenal glands produce low levels of androgens which can lead to a decreased production of sebum, resulting in a lowered level of acne. Birth control pills with both estrogen and progesterone can have a similar effect and decrease the severity and occurrence of acne.

Can birth control cause acne?

While birth control generally helps to reduce acne breakouts, especially ones that contain both progesterone and estrogen, certain types of birth control can lead to breakouts and increase the severity of acne, especially ones that have progestin as a key component.

How does estrogen and progesterone control acne?

Oral contraceptives can often help reduce and control acne due to their levels of estrogen and progestin. Here are how these hormones work against acne.

Birth control and antibiotics

While a number of dermatologists often prescribe antibiotics that are for topical use or in the form of tablets and these do have benefits like reducing the presence of the P. acnes bacteria and other microbes from the skin and providing anti-inflammatory properties, these can also have a number of worrying side effects-

Side effects of topically applied Antibiotics

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  • Apart from the problems they cause to the skin these Antibiotics make the skin very dry.
  • They even cause a burning sensation whenever applied on the skin and make the skin turn red.
  • These can cause skin irritation, dryness and itchy, scaly skin.
  • These can cause bacterial resistance.
  • The skin is more susceptible to contact dermatitis.

Side effects of orally consumed Antibiotics

  • The Orally Consumed Antibiotics have severe side effects which are directly related to the health such as Abdominal Cramps, Diarrhoea, Vomiting etc.
  • Using antibiotics regularly can cause bacterial resistance.
  • Certain antibiotics have been linked to increased photosensitivity.
  • These can cause yeast infections and rashes.

Treatment of acne caused because of birth control pills

If you are experiencing acne, there are a number of ways to treat it at home using certain ingredients that are readily available.

Oral contraceptives

If you are on some Oral Contraceptives and they are causing acne all over your face then it is time you should try one of these Oral Contraceptive Pills which are going to treat the acne. One is Orthodox Tri-Cyclen which combines estrogen and progesterone providing prevention against acne with the job of saving you from conceiving.


If the appearance of Acne on your skin isn’t too much and are less in number then you should try out for Retinol lotions, creams and gels for your skin. Since Retinoid is rich in Vitamin A it effectively works in making your skin clear.

Tea tree oil

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As we all known Acne causes inflammation on the skin too which can be very well curbed by the use of Tea Tree Oil on the skin. It also reduces acne and acne marks as well. All you have to do is dilute a few drops of this oil with a regular oil and then apply it on your skin. It works for skin with mild to moderate acnes.

Green tea

One can either drink Green Tea daily for better results or one can buy skin products that have Green Tea blended in them for treating inflammation and acnes. Make it a habit to use Green Tea content product or having green tea as a regular regime for best results.


Stay away from high calorie products as well as dairy products they can increase the number of acnes. Also, restrict yourself from having red meat and food items like pasta or bread.

Spot treatment

For all the pesky spots, using tea tree oil can help you with anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. It is a gentle way to cleanse acne and does not harm your skin though it may take time to be effective. If you are using tea tree oil, ensure that it doesn’t burn too much and if you are using an essential oil, always remember to dilute it with a carrier like olive oil.


Moisturizing is the key to acne free skin, no matter whether you have oily or dry skin. While topical antibiotics are drying, coconut oil can be a great moisturizer as it is not too heavy for the skin and with the lauric acid content; it prevents bacterial buildup to reduce acne. After applying, always remember to wipe off the excess to avoid clogged pores.

Fighting P. Acnes bacteria naturally

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Basil essential oil can help fight the bacteria and unlike topical antibiotics, it does not cause bacterial resistance. It also helps regulate hormone levels when consumed as teas. Topical application can have toning benefits.

Focus on your diet

Consuming foods that are refined or processed can raise blood sugar rapidly and can cause acne. Opt for a low glycemic index diet with lots of lean meats, leafy green vegetables, berries, probiotic yogurt and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and fiber to help cleanse the colon and promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.

Treating acne scars

Acne scars can be prevented by limiting sun exposure and using sunscreen, refraining from popping pimples and picking at them or using healing essential oil masks. Here is a recipe you can try at home-

  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive/almond oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8–10 drop essential tea tree oils
  • 6–8 drop of helichrysum essential oils
  • 8-10 drop frankincense essential oils

Combine the ingredients and apply, leaving on for 10-15 minutes and washing off with lukewarm water for best results.

By combining these methods of acne treatments and oral contraceptives, you can acquire amazing, soft and smooth skin. Dermatologists generally offer birth control in case other methods have been exhausted and you need contraceptive methods and can work wonderfully for moderate to severe acne which is non-responsive to traditional treatments.