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Daily Oral Contraceptives (Yasmin, Seasonale, Ortho etc.) and Acne

The word “multifunctional” is mostly associated with HP printers, combining the functionality of a printer, scanner and fax machine in one device, or Pantene shampoo, offering consumers hair shampoo and conditioner in one bottle. It may be surprising, but modern medications may also be multifunctional, helping people treat more than one disorder or condition. For example, oral contraceptives, which are commonly used to prevent unwanted pregnancy nowadays, can also play a role in managing acne, one of the most widely-spread skin conditions.

So, how can Yasmin, Seasonale, Ortho-TriCyclen or some other combined oral contraceptive help people fight acne and improve their skin condition?

First of all, let us define what acne is and what causes it. Acne is a common skin disease, which represents itself with a variety of lesions, blackheads or whiteheads on face or other parts of a body. Acne lesions appear when too much oil or sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. Mixed with certain bacteria, which are always present on the skin surface, and unshed dead skin cells, sebum clogs a skin pore, resulting in the appearance of what we usually call acne pimples.

The role of certain hormones, namely androgens, which are present in both men and women, are considered to be important in stimulating the activity of sebaceous glands and thus in contributing to acne development. That is why acne often develops under the influence of certain hormonal changes in female organisms, taking place during teen age or menstruation.

The active ingredients of oral contraceptives, such as progestin and estrogen, are said to interact with the hormonal system of a person. These hormones have the ability to suppress the activity of androgens, thus eliminating one of the factors, contributing to acne development.

The ability of oral contraceptives to prevent acne and improve skin condition was proved in many clinical trials. That is why dermatologists often recommend oral contraceptives as the remedy to manage acne for those women, who do not respond well to common anti-acne therapies.

In spite of multiple evidences, proving the effectiveness of different oral contraceptives to treat acne, there is only one birth control pill, the ability of which to treat acne and maintain clearer skin was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is Ortho Tri-Cyclen, produced by Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc. Prescribing other brands of daily pills for treating acne is mostly based on the practical experience of a doctor.

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The other popular contraceptive, called Yasmin, is also worth special attention. It contains drospirenone, a new synthetic hormone with unique properties. Besides improving skin condition, Yasmin may be beneficial for weight loss. The key is in the ability of drospirenone to interact with the body's mechanism of water retention, which may contribute to weight gain. Thus, using Yasmin, one receives a 3-in-1 pill: a contraceptive, an anti-acne treatment and a weight loss pill.

After all, not all the movies have the happy endings and not all the contraceptives are beneficial for acne treatment. While Ortho Tri Cyclen and Yasmin are usually recommended to reduce acne, some other daily pills, such as Triphasil, Ovral or Loestrin may not only be of low effectiveness in fighting acne, but on the contrary, they may even promote its development. That is why, it is better to consult a specialist about the birth control pill to use in order to treat acne.


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