What to do with Post Pill Acne
Post Pill Acne: How to come off the pill with ease!
I get it, you are ready to come off the pill, for whatever reason; you need a break, you are ready to try for a baby, the pill is giving you side effects, or you just want to see what a real period is like. Whatever your reason, I can help you to reduce the severity and likeliness of post-pill acne
Unfortunately for many women, stopping the pill can feel very daunting. Even more overwhelming if you were put on the pill in the first place to clear your acne.
This fear is validated, a lot of women have tried to come off the pill previously only to have their acne return with vengeance. There is however a way to safely and naturally break the prescription cycle, to have clear skin, reduce acne breakouts without the pill.
Everybody is unique, some women will experience textural issues, others non-inflammatory acne such as blackheads and closed comedown, while others may experience the inflammatory, severe acne, of pustules, cysts of whiteheads. No matter what type of acne outbreak you experience Naturopathy can help.
Acne can impact a women’s, confidence, and self-esteem. When the skin is painful and inflamed it can be very upsetting physical but also mentally.
What is Post Pill Acne? What is going on beneath the surface?
It’s your good old acne but with a little androgen, surge sprinkled on top. It usually occurs on stopping the pill around months 3-6. It can occur if you have acne previous to taking the pill or not.
The Pill; drugs VS hormones. What’s happening.
If it was a competition, your hormones win 10-fold. Real hormones are oestradiol and progesterone. Contraceptive drugs are molecules like ethinylestradiol, levonorgestrel, and drospirenone.
Contraceptive drugs do not have the same molecular structure as real hormones and do not provide the same benefits.
The synthetic hormones contained in the pill don’t have all the feel-good positive impact on your health The pill shuts down your ovaries, and as a result, you don’t make your wonderful and healthy hormones – oestrogen and progesterone and they are replaced with a substandard synthetic hormone. The pill does not regulate your hormones, it shuts them down, so while breakouts may disappear while on the pill, the pill is not addressing the root cause.
Skin, oils and pores, oh my! Why your skin is so smooth.
The synthetic forms of oestrogen contained in the pill, suppress sebum production in the skin to levels only experienced in childhood. It also causes the pores to shrink.
While small pores and no sebum may seem like a good idea. Oils protect our skin, reduce the signs of ageing, and keep our skin hydrated. While oils increase your likeliness of acne, they don’t cause acne.
Use it or lose it.
Our HPO axis is the communication from our hypothalamus to our pituitary gland and to our ovaries, it can take up to 12 years for this communication to mature. When coming off the pill, everyone needs to remember how to communicate! This can have us back in our adolescent days as our periods start to regulate and remember their natural rhythm. Not all women experience this, some come off the pill and fall back into a 28-day cycle.
The Pill is out and the ovaries are waking up!
You’ve stopped the pill and after a few months your ovaries are awake and ready to bring the hormones to the party, with a surge in androgens often seen around months 3-6, the skin is thicker and producing more sebum than before.
This can cause a huge flare in acne breakouts and often they can occur worse than when starting the pill. The good news, this surge is temporary and often peaks and 6 months, the bad news, it can remain like this for 18 months, and your skin can be very angry and inflamed.
What can you do for Post Pill Acne?
Lots of things! Don’t despair. The best place to start is to get your ducks in a row 3 months prior to ceasing the pill. This gives us ample time to get your health into a good place before you come off so you can avoid the hormonal chaos that can occur.
Top us nutrients depleted by the Pill
The Pill depletes the body of key nutrients needed for skin health and happy hormones. A nutrient deficiency doesn’t occur overnight, and neither does topping it up, 3months is ideal so again best to work together on your health prior to coming off the pill.
The nutrients we pay special attention to;
- Needed for COMT function, this is the enzyme that regulates phase-2 liver detoxification of steroid hormones.
- Magnesium regulates your HPA axis – your stress control centre
- It helps with blood sugar reduction, this can help two-fold reduce ovarian production of androgens.
- Magnesium normalises the action of progesterone
Zinc – Zinc is a key in clearing acne!
- Zinc has an impact on androgens by lowering Dihydrotestosterone a form of testosterone
- Zinc aids acne wound healing and assists with scar prevention
- Zinc regulates the normal desquamation process of keratinocytes, this process is the sloshing of that dead skin cells, which reduces the build-up to ensure pores don’t clog
- Essential for the synthesis of steroid hormones particularly progesterone
- Lowers prolactin
- Assists with healthy oestrogen metabolism
- Is needed in its active form for the methylation pathway for liver detoxification of steroid hormones working in conjunction with the COMT enzyme.
- B12 is found in animal proteins, another one to flag if you’re on a plant-based diet
- Also lowers DHT a form of testosterone, an androgen.
- Selenium stops free radical damage before premature wrinkles have a chance to form. It also helps to protect cell membranes against UV damage, inflammation, and pigmentation.
Diet tips to keep the skin happy
While dairy isn’t an issue for everyone and there are no studies showing causation, dairy = acne. There is one study in teenage boys that showed that higher dairy consumers had the more severe forms of acne.
From a chemical point of view dairy, contains a protein called IGF-1, which increases androgens in the female body and promotes an inflammatory pathway. The exemption to this rule is good quality yoghurt such as pot set organic or biodynamic yoghurt.
Sugar is the next big one! Sugar can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, this can cause the ovaries to produce more androgens, coupled with the fact sugar is very inflammatory it’s one you want to avoid.
Some superhero foods for you to include
Many studies also indicate that applying green tea directly to the skin may help with acne. Research shows that the main antioxidant in green tea — epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) — reduces sebum production, fights inflammation, and inhibits the growth of P. acnes in individuals with acne-prone skin.
Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and can help regulate blood sugar levels. Try on breakfast oats, quinoa, over fruit and in smoothies. Ideally, a lot, like ½ teaspoon. In one study, volunteers ate from 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon for 40 days. (One gram of ground cinnamon is about half a teaspoon.) The researchers found that cinnamon cut cholesterol by about 18% and blood sugar levels by 24%
Spearmint has been used traditionally in the Middle East as a remedy for hirsutism (excess hair growth). Research has shown that after 6 weeks 3 cups per day was enough to lower testosterone levels in women with PCOS, an androgen excess state.
Knowing what can happen to your skin and timelines can be super helpful as you come off the pill.
Following the above tips, enjoying a well-rounded meditation diet, managing stress, prioritising rest and restoration and movement can also be helpful not just for your skin but your overall health.
If you have tried the above and you are still concerned or your skin seems to be getting worse, reach out! I help women daily overcome post-pill acne and acne from PCOS. While I have talked about a few things there is so much more you can do in terms of nutritional support, herbal medicine and dietary and lifestyle intervention.