Acne can be a nightmare and seem uncontrollable. Acne occurs when oil—or sebum—and dead skin cells build up inside the pores and form a soft plug. Birth control pills that have been approved to treat acne work by reducing the amount of oil that glands produce, hindering some of the acne production. The pill is about 95 percent effective against pregnancy if taken correctly. There may still be a need to use acne medication or cleansers to assist with acne control.
Ortho Tri-Cyclen was introduced in 1992 as a form of oral contraceptive but was not approved to treat acne until January 1997. Ortho Tri-Cyclen contains a combination of ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate that helps treat acne in females 15 and older who have already started their menstrual cycle. This particular pill is taken once per day. The packs are for a 28-day cycle. The first 21 days contain active pills and the last seven days are placebo, or inactive, pills. A woman may need to take the pill for several months before noticing a difference in her acne. Side effects include breast tenderness, headache, nausea, decreased libido and change in menstrual flow.
Estrostep has been approved as an oral contraceptive and for treatment of acne in females 15 and older who have begun menstruating. This birth control pill contains ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone to treat acne. Estrostep may also be called Estrostep 21. It is a 28-day pack; however, the first 21 days are the active pills and the last seven days are placebo pills. Adverse reactions associated with Estrostep include heart attack, blood clots in the lungs, bleeding of the brain, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease and benign liver tumors. Risks include migraines, nausea, intolerance to contact lenses, depression, yeast infections, vomiting, abdominal pain and temporary infertility when ceasing the medication. Women taking the medication should plan to stay on it for at least six months.
Yaz (or Yasmin)
Yasmin can also be called Yaz for short. This birth control pill is approved as an oral contraceptive and for treatment of acne and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Yaz contains ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone for treatment of acne in females 14 and older who have already began menstruating. Risks associated with Yaz include anxiety, convulsions, chills, severe or sudden headaches, loss of vision, nervousness, numbness in fingertips, feeling warm, slurring of speech, ringing in the ears, sudden loss of consciousness, pain throughout the body and loss of coordination. There is also a long list of medicines and herbal remedies, such as amoxicillin and St. John's Wart, that a woman may want to consult her physician about prior to taking Yaz.