I have acne that doesn't clear up when I use medications or creams. Could birth control pills help?

Answer From Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.

Yes, birth control pills (oral contraceptives) can improve acne in women.

Though typically safe and effective, birth control pills for acne (combination estrogen-progestin pills) aren't for everyone. Side effects can include headache, breast tenderness, nausea, weight gain, breakthrough bleeding and a slightly increased risk of blood clots.

Talk to your doctor about how your health history and age may affect your risks with birth control pills for acne.

Don't take birth control pills for acne if you:

  • Are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Haven't reached puberty
  • Are over age 35 and smoke
  • Have a history of migraines
  • Have high blood pressure and vascular disease
  • Have a history of heart disease
  • Have a history of breast cancer, undiagnosed abnormal uterine bleeding or liver disease
  • Have a history of blood clots
July 27, 2017 See more Expert Answers

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  35. Skin changes during pregnancy
  36. Staying active with hidradenitis suppurativa
  37. Surgery for hidradenitis suppurativa
  38. Take action against acne
  39. Treat acne-prone skin with care
  40. Treating hidradenitis suppurativa: Explore your options
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