Birth Control For Acne: What You Should Know and How It Works

a young woman with acne close-up

Acne is a common problem that many people face regularly. Its impact on confidence and mental well-being, particularly among women, cannot be understated. The struggle leads to self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and even anxiety, affecting daily life and social interactions.

The association between hormonal changes and the occurrence of acne is well-documented. In addressing this concern, birth control has been recognised for its effectiveness in managing acne by helping regulate hormone levels and reducing breakouts.

In this article, Dr. Michelle Chia, Medical Director of Ezra Clinic, shares insights from her personal experience and guides you through what you should know about birth control for acne and how it works.

What Causes Hormonal Acne

During times of significant fluctuations like puberty, menstruation, and stress, hormones contribute to acne development. As androgen levels rise during puberty, androgen production leads to an increased production of sebum, which forms acne.

Androgens, like testosterone, stimulate sebaceous glands to produce more sebum that clogs pores and creates an environment that encourages the growth of acne. 

The birth control pill is a potential solution for treating hormonal acne in women. Birth control for acne helps with treating acne, regulating hormone levels and reducing sebum production, thereby decreasing the risk of acne development. 

How Does Birth Control Treat Acne?

Birth control, also known as contraception, refers to methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. The birth control pill reduces the amount of sebum the skin produces, leading to less severe acne. This makes the birth control pill a useful and commonly used method for treating acne. Particularly for adult acne cases which are closely related to hormonal acne, other treatments like topical creams or oral antibiotics may not treat stubborn acne.

Taking birth control pills regulates hormone levels in the body. Oral contraceptives such as combination pills contain oestrogen and progesterone hormones that balance androgen levels.

By keeping androgen levels in check, hormonal birth control can reduce sebum production. Excess sebum, leading to clogged pores with bacteria and dead skin cells, creates a prime environment for acne development. Therefore, by reducing the amount of sebum on the skin, birth control pills can help to prevent these blockages.

By providing a steady level of hormones throughout the cycle, hormonal birth control minimises the fluctuations that cause breakouts and can thus decrease the incidence of hormonally triggered acne episodes. This smoother hormonal landscape helps many individuals maintain clearer skin throughout their cycle.

Types of Birth Control Pills That Can Treat Acne

a woman holding contraceptive pills

According to a 2018 study, combination birth control pills as a treatment for acne is an effective option, as it improves the cosmetic situation. The FDA has approved birth control pills to treat acne, particularly persistent acne or oily skin that does not respond well to antibiotics or topical treatments.

Different birth control pills can be useful in treating moderate acne. Certain oral contraceptives are known to have better oil and hormonal control, which allows for a clearer complexion and better acne control.

Some of these brands include Yasmin, Yaz or Diane 35. These birth control for acne are commonly prescribed and make oral contraceptive pills a useful method in treating acne.

It is also important to note that while taking oral contraceptives can help with treating acne, seeing results takes time, and we do not expect to get rid of acne overnight. It is recommended to take a minimum of 3-6 months to see improvement.

Benefits of Birth Control for Acne

a confident woman facing the mirror

Taking birth control pills for acne treatment has been identified through clinical trials and medical research. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Regulation of Hormones: The synthetic hormones in birth control can reduce testosterone levels, which in turn can decrease sebum production, the oily substance that can clog pores and lead to acne.

  • Consistent Skincare Routine: Stabilising hormone levels can make skincare more effective as the skin’s condition becomes less variable and more predictable.

  • Decreased Inflammation: Hormonal birth control often reduces systemic inflammation, which can contribute to fewer acne outbreaks.

  • Improved Skin Texture: Over time, the consistent regulation of hormones can lead to an overall improvement in skin texture and tone. It can result in a clearer, smoother complexion.

  • Convenient: Birth control pills can be used easily and incorporated into daily routines, making them a convenient option for acne treatment.

  • Decreased Acne Flare-ups: With regular use, birth control can help prevent the monthly hormonal fluctuations that often trigger acne breakouts.

  • Regulates the menstrual cycle

Side Effects and Risk Factors

hands holding oral contraceptives

Birth control pills work by correcting hormonal imbalances that can lead to acne breakouts. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects and risk factors associated with birth control pills for acne treatment

Common minor side effects of birth control pills can include nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, and mood changes. These side effects may improve after the initial adjustment period. 

However, more serious risks are associated with birth control pills, such as an increased chance of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke, especially in individuals who smoke. It’s important to note that while these risks are present, they are generally rare. 

Birth control pills are not suitable for everyone. Women with certain health conditions or a medical history of specific issues should avoid birth control pills. Discuss these with a healthcare provider to address concerns before starting birth control pills for acne treatment.

Who Is Not Allowed To Take Birth Control?

Some women with specific health conditions or lifestyle factors should not take birth control pills for acne treatment. These include:

  • Women who are over age 35 and smoke

  • Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Women who are obese

  • Individuals with heart disease, high blood pressure, or a history of blood clots

  • Those with a history of breast, uterine, or liver cancer

  • Individuals with a history of migraines with aural or visual symptoms

It’s important to consult a healthcare provider to understand the suitability of the birth control pill for acne treatment based on individual health circumstances.


Hormonal birth control can be a potent ally in the fight against acne, mainly by regulating the hormonal fluctuations that contribute to its development. Specifically, combination birth control pills containing both estrogen and progesterone have been found effective in decreasing sebum production, which in turn can reduce acne flare-ups.

While many experience benefits like decreased acne severity and regulated hormonal levels, it is crucial to consider the side effects and consult with a medical professional, as birth control pills are not without risks and are not appropriate for all individuals.

Always communicate openly with a qualified healthcare provider to understand the implications and ensure that the treatment aligns with your specific health profile and skincare goals. Your journey to clearer skin should be informed, safe, and personalised.



Dr Michelle Chia

Medical Director

After graduating from the National University of Singapore, Dr Michelle's journey allowed her to train in Women's Health and Aesthetic Medicine. Her experience has led her to be featured on multiple media platforms including Radio Stations and prominent Magazines like Her World, Women's Weekly and CLEO. Her work has also received recognition both locally and internationally in several Medical Conferences.

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Ezra Clinic is a Women’s Health, Wellness and Aesthetic Clinic that is conveniently located at the top floor of Royal Square Medical Suites in Novena, Singapore’s Medical Health Hub.

Helmed by Dr Michelle Chia, Ezra Clinic is your chosen one stop clinic for all your Women’s Health and Wellness needs.


    101 Irrawaddy Road #21-09, Royal Square Medical Centre, Singapore 329565

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