I survived puberty without a single hint of acne. Well into my 20s there was no amount of chocolate I could eat, no amount of makeup or fake tan that could trigger a breakout and I didn’t have nearly the extensive skin care routine that I have now. I was one of those annoying people who “just had good skin”. Now, in my late 20s, that person I described is a distant dream. As far as I know, she left the building about three years ago and nobody has seen her since.
Switching my birth control…
For context, around the same time that my skin started to breakout around my chin and jawline, I came off the birth control pill and replaced it with the Mirena. At first, the spots were small, but they progressed, and as time went on they gradually got worse.
Despite not being the deepest, angriest cystic acne I had ever seen, it was still acne by all accounts. There was no amount of concealer that could cover it and no amount of “it’s barely noticeable” comments from my friends or family that could make me believe it wasn’t the most noticeable thing on my face.
After initially consulting my GP, I was told that because the hormones in the Mirena are localised to your uterus (and not in your bloodstream), it wouldn’t be causing my skin issues. No longer having the “protection of the pill”, however, would be. This was something a few of my friends who had previously been on the Mirena disputed, but I went with the advice of my GP. She first prescribed me a topical ointment, but after trying it for several months, bleaching all of my pillow cases and seeing no results, I stopped using it.
Going to a dermatologist…
From there, I went to see a dermatologist. After our first consultation we stripped my skin care routine right back. This meant I was using only a topical salicylic acid wash, a hydrating serum, SPF and moisturiser. Really simple. After six months with no change, I went to get a facial and the facialist essentially told me there was nothing she could do, or put on my skin that was going to fix my hormonal acne. I needed to call in the big guns, AKA an oral medication.
So I went back to the dermatologist and I got myself a prescription for Spiractin, which is an oral medication using the ingredient spironolactone; originally prescribed to treat high blood pressure and water retention. But earning itself extra bonus points, the ingredient has actually proven to work as an effective hormonal acne treatment too.
Following a series of unsuccessful topical treatments, this was something I was keen to explore. So after receiving my prescription, I just about skipped to Chemist Warehouse and purchased the bottle containing 100 pills for $7.99 (yes, it really only cost that much) which would carry me through to my next check up.
How does it work?
Spironolactone works by blocking androgens (such as testosterone) in the body. Increases in androgens result in excessive sebum production, which can cause breakouts and acne.
Those who already have low blood pressure may experience feelings of lightheadedness while taking Spiractin. In addition, spirlocatena blocks testosterone receptors, so it is only prescribed for women, as it has been known to increase breast size in men.
Is it working for me?
Honestly, at the moment, no. But it’s too soon to tell. One month down, I’m yet to see an improvement. Nevertheless, I’ve been told to check in after three months, do a blood test and reassess.
I’m still getting new breakouts and my existing ones haven’t calmed down. It’s easy to get disheartened and at this point I am. However, all advice I’ve been given (both by medical experts and strangers on the internet) say it can take up to three months before you start seeing any action.
So where does that leave me now?
Hopeful, kind of. And headed back to the dermatologist for a check up in a few months.
Do you have or have you ever had adult hormonal acne? Do you have any tips for getting rid of it?