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FEMALE ACNE AND HORMONES
by Geoffrey Redmond, MD

Acne is Extremely Common
What Causes Acne?
Acne, the Teenage Years and Beyond
Treating the Hormonal Cause of Acne
Skin Care for Acne
Non-Prescription/Prescription Acne Treatments
Hormonal Treatment of Acne
Acne and Extra Hair
Acne and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A Final Note

Non-Prescription Acne Treatments
If acne is mild, there are simple, home treatments for acne that don’t require a prescription.
The best over-the-counter (OTC) acne medicine is benzoyl peroxide (BP). It is sold under several brand names, of which the best known are Oxy 5 and Oxy 10. These have 5% and 10% benzoyl peroxide respectively. BP is an antibacterial, and seems to dry the oiliness of the skin also Like other topicals, BP does need to be applied daily. If redness or irritation of the skin develops, BP often still works if it is put on for 30 to 45 minutes and then washed off. This works better than skipping days.

There are many other OTC acne remedies, not all of which are effective. Some contain ingredients that can irritate the skin or even make things worse. I suggest using a product which contains benzoyl peroxide without a lot of additional ingredients.

Standard Prescription Acne Treatments
Here are the most common medical treatments which most with acne have probably tried already:
Topicals such as tretinoin (Retin-A) and adapalene (Differin) which make the surface protein of the skin less sticky. Topical antibiotics such as erythromycin and clindamycin sold under a variety of brand names.
Oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, minocycline, and erythromycin. Of the oral antibiotics, I think erythromycin is most suitable for women as it does not cause the photosensitivity or yeast infections sometimes induced by tetracycline or minocycline.

Two oral contraceptives (OCs ) have been approved at this time (11/01) for treatment of acne in women who want to be on the pill. These are OrthoTriCyclen® and Estrostep®. (I was involved in the research for both and have lectured and consulted for both companies.) The number of pimples are reduced by about 50%, on average. This is a significant improvement.

However, the pill does not give adequate clearing for all women with acne. For a woman whose skin is still broken out despite use of one of these OCs, or who does not want to take an OC, there are other ways to prevent hormones from triggering it. OCs can be combined with the other acne treatments described above or with other hormonal treatments as described below.
 

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Acne is Extremely Common
What Causes Acne?
Acne, the Teenage Years and Beyond
Treating the Hormonal Cause of Acne
Skin Care for Acne
Non-Prescription/Prescription Acne Treatments
Hormonal Treatment of Acne
Acne and Extra Hair
Acne and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A Final Note

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