Most women are prescribed combination oral contraceptives (OCPs) or birth control pills for hormonal acne. OCPs affect the skin by decreasing the androgenic effect in our tissue and reducing the production of sebum and acne. Many studies on the combination birth control pill have found that it is effective at treating both inflammatory and noninflammatory acne. Within the first few months of coming off the pill, you may see an increase in hormonal acne flare-ups as androgen hormone levels surge. It can take anywhere from six to twelve months for hormones to stabilize after coming off a contraceptive pill. Here are Dr. Zenovia’s top tips for controlling and preventing future acne flare-ups during this time period.
Post Pill Hormonal Acne-Clearing Skincare Routine
While waiting for your cycle to naturally regulate itself, sticking with a simple skincare routine that contains effective acne-fighting topicals will help control breakouts. Dr. Zenovia recommends using a cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide which decreases skin inflammation, opens the pores, exfoliates the surface layer of skin, removes excess sebum, and kills bacteria. These properties make Benzoyl Peroxide a powerful acne-reducing agent.
Hormonal Acne-Fighting Cleanser
Dr. Zenovia’s 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Cleanser is a multitasking, soap-free cleanser that gently removes everyday impurities and excess sebum. Infused with a powerful, yet gentle dose of ultra-micronized 10% Benzoyl Peroxide to eliminate any possible irritation, this dermatologist-formulated, sulfate-free cleanser penetrates deeply to remove buildup from clogged pores and eradicate blemishes.
After cleansing, remember to moisturize both day and night with a soothing, oil-free moisturizer. Dr. Zenovia’s Aloe Vera Blemish Soothing Moisturizer is infused with medical-grade Aloe Vera to soothe sensitive acne-prone skin while her proprietary REG-ulate360 Complex™ helps balance hormonal acne. This advanced formula helps to reduce the appearance of redness and promote the look of even texture and tone for a supple, glowing, blemish-free complexion.
Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+ daily is imperative for protection from the sun’s harsh UV rays. Additionally, many acne medications can make your skin extra sensitive to the sun. Dr. Zenovia’s Vitamin C Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30 provides transparent nano zinc-oxide mineral protection. Clinical grade Vitamin C-Ester visibly helps minimize the appearance of dark spots, discoloration, fine lines, and wrinkles associated with photoaging.
The best acne treatment is to use an over-the-counter retinol at night. This ingredient increases the cellular turnover rate, helps regulate sebum production, keeps the pores from clogging, and prevents the formation of whiteheads, blackheads, and cysts. Dr. Zenovia’s Advanced Retinol Night Repair Treatment features highly concentrated All-Trans-Retinol Technology which works synergistically with a powerful Antioxidant Complex to help protect the skin’s barrier and reduce the appearance of acne, acne scars, texture, and tone. This is the number one product you should be using for acne!
Note from Dr. Zenovia: It's important to gradually introduce ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Retinol into your skincare regimen. If excessive dryness or irritation occurs, reduce application.
Derm-Recommended Treatments for Post Pill Hormonal Acne
There are many prescription medications, both oral and topical, recommended by dermatologists for hormonal acne. Besides OCPs, Spironolactone is an effective oral medication for hormonal acne because its mechanism is to block androgen hormone receptors (without synthetic hormones like birth control pills). Androgen hormones lead to sebum production and inflammation.
Accutane is also a highly effective therapy and is safe if used in low-doses. This medication requires monitoring but is extremely effective and necessary for those making deep cysts and forming scars.
Aczone, generically known as dapsone is a topical prescription agent which is an anti-microbial agent that resembles the action of sulphonamides or sulfur-based products.
Recently, a new drug was FDA-approved called Clascoterone Cream 1% which works by blocking androgen receptors in the skin. This is a new approach to hormonal acne, but it requires a prescription and long-term studies and outcomes are uncertain.
If you are family planning and trying to conceive a child you need to discuss treatment options with a board-certified dermatologist that can guide you.
Note from Dr. Zenovia: Your hormonal levels will eventually rebalance after coming off the pill. Visit a board-certified dermatologist if your acne persists.