Should I Use Accutane, Antibiotics or Birth Control For Acne?

dangers-of-accutane-birth-control-antibiotics-for-acne

One of the most common questions I encounter as a skin specialist is whether someone should take the medications that most doctors recommend for acne control.

 

Personally, I’m not a big fan of this, and for good reason. Today, I want to explain why I don’t recommend these treatments, and how they can be dangerous.

 

A Quick Review Of Acne

 

We had a look at this in depth in a recent article, but acne is generally caused by an imbalance of hormones combined with a lowered immune response.

 

The reasons why these occur are varied, but often it comes back to a diet that doesn’t support hormone balance and is low in nutrients, and a build-up of the liver’s toxic load.

 

Unfortunately, many practitioners don’t understand the mechanisms behind acne, and instead offer medications that cover up the problem, rather than treating the root cause.

 

Why You Might Be Recommended Accutane

 

If your acne is severe and unresponsive to other treatments, your practitioner may recommend a round of Accutane, a medication that is created from a high dose of vitamin A.

 

Vitamin A helps to reduce the production of sebum in the skin. But don’t be fooled because it’s a vitamin – it’s far from natural, and very far from safe.

 

Why It Can Be Dangerous

 

Any medication that requires multiple sign offs and a compulsory pregnancy test before use is not your safest option.

 

Accutane is a high dose of a fat soluble vitamin, which carries a much higher risk of vitamin toxicity than water soluble vitamins. It’s known to cause severe birth defects, which is why using 2 forms of birth control is compulsory for women who take Accutane – even for women who have had their tubes tied.

 

You may also need to have your liver function monitored, to make sure your liver isn’t experiencing toxicity. Accutane might seem harmless, but it can cause side effects such as joint pain, bleeding gums, impaired vision, depression, suicidal thoughts, and even death. In fact, the list of side effects known is about as long as this entire article!

 

Even with all of this risk, there are a lot of people who suffer the side effects of Accutane and don’t even see any improvements in their acne.

 

Why You Might Be Recommended Antibiotics

 

Doctors will often recommend antibiotics to treat acne, particularly acne that becomes inflamed and infected, to treat the acute infection and sometimes to control the population of the bacterial strain most associated with acne.

 

Why It Can Be Dangerous

 

Antibiotics have a host of nasty side effects that vary depending on the type you are prescribed. They also contribute to the load on the liver, as they need to be detoxified just like any other medication in the body, leading to worsening of acne symptoms.

 

Use of antibiotics also disturbs the gut flora, which is shown to be one of the main triggers for release of skin-inflaming Substance P, so long term you may actually be worsening your acne instead of improving it.

 

Finally, antibiotics can disrupt the good bacteria of both the gut and the skin, lowering your immune function even further and leaving you prone to further infections. It basically becomes a downward spiral where you use more and more antibiotics to control infections, and cause even more.

 

Why You Might Be Recommended Birth Control Pills

 

Particularly if your acne flares according to your cycles, doctors will often recommend you use an oral contraceptive pill to ‘balance your hormone levels’.

 

Why It Can Be Dangerous

 

This is a case of using a bandaid to cover up symptoms that are the body’s cry for help. These pills do not actually balance your hormone levels – they introduce artificial hormones that strain the liver further and come with a host of side effects.

 

Often, use of the contraceptive pill can cover up symptoms until a condition is well and truly underway – women who come off the Pill often find out that they have depleted their bodies to the point of PCOS or even complete infertility.

 

Contraceptive pills are also not something that someone should take just to address acne, given that they greatly increase the risk of serious health issues such as clots and heart disease.

 

Why Your Safest Answer Is Natural

 

So why is introducing an acne-reducing diet and treating your skin with natural skin care products the safest option?

 

It gets to the root of the problem – it addresses the hormone imbalance and the load on the liver, so instead of covering up symptoms, you are re-building and nourishing your body.

 

Believe me, your skin will thank you for it.

 

References

https://gutpathogens.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1757-4749-3-1

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa003216#t=article

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190962201025907

http://journals.lww.com/americantherapeutics/Abstract/2003/03000/Overview_of_Existing_Research_and_Information.12.aspx

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1517/14740338.3.2.119