While it is known that antibiotics and birth control pills together can improve acne in women, researchers sought to compare the two treatments side by side. They found that, while antibiotics cleared acne more effectively in the short term, birth control pills caught up in terms of effectiveness in the long term. After three months of treatment, antibiotics had reduced the number of whiteheads or cysts by 48% compared to 37% with oral contraceptives. However, by six months, oral contraceptives’ effectiveness roughly equaled antibiotics’, reducing acne by 55% compared to 53%, respectively. These findings suggest that oral contraceptives are a good alternative for women who want to avoid the drawbacks of stronger oral acne medications or long-term antibiotic use. Antibiotics help fight existing acne by reducing inflammation while oral contraceptives reduce free or circulating “androgens” (male hormones), thereby lowering production of the oily sebum that plugs pores.
Acne, the bane of the teenage years, can cause both emotional and physical damage when it persists into adulthood. Men and women may be embarrassed by breakouts or by the scars left behind from earlier problems. Many treatment options for acne are available, all of which depend upon the type and severity of the lesions.
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