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5 Ways To Treat Acne After Stopping Birth Control

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores five ways to manage and treat post-birth control acne.


“According to the National Institutes of Health, inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne can improve in women who use contraceptive pills as birth control,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“However, when you stop taking birth control, your hormones may fluctuate, and acne can return or even worsen.”

Here are five ways to tackle acne after stopping birth control:

Understand Your Hormones

The first step in managing post-birth control acne is understanding the role of hormones in skin health. Hormones like oestrogen and progesterone, included in birth control pills, may help lower skin sebum (oil) production. When you stop taking these hormones, your body needs time to readjust, which can increase sebum production and subsequent acne breakouts.


How to Manage Hormonal Fluctuations

  • Give It Time: Understand that your body might take a few months to stabilise after stopping birth control. Be patient and give your skin some time to adjust.
  • Consult a Doctor: Consult a healthcare provider if you have severe hormonal imbalances.
  • Monitor Your Cycle: Tracking your menstrual cycle can help you see patterns and predict when breakouts might happen so you can prevent them.

Maintain a Consistent Skincare Routine

A solid skincare routine is vital for managing acne, especially during hormonal changes. Using the right products consistently can help keep your skin clear.

Steps for an Effective Skincare Routine:

To maintain clear skin, follow these simple steps:

  1. Cleanse Gently: Use a gentle cleanser twice daily to remove dirt, oil, and makeup without drying your skin.
  2. Read ingredients: Look for facial products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to help fight acne.
  3. Exfoliate Regularly: Exfoliate two or three times a week to remove dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores.
  4. Moisturise Daily: If your skin is oily, apply a non-comedogenic moisturiser to keep it hydrated.
  5. Spot Treatments: Target specific breakouts using spot treatments with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
  6. Sun Protection: Always apply sunscreen during the day. Many acne treatments can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so protection is essential.

Adopt a Healthy Diet

Diet plays a significant role in your skin health; that’s why you should consider:

  • Reducing your intake of dairy and high-glycemic foods, such as sugary items and refined carbs.
  • Increasing your consumption of antioxidant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Including healthy fats in your diet, such as omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon), monounsaturated fats (found in avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (found in walnuts).
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water.


Topical Treatments and Medications

Consider more potent topical treatments or prescription medications if over-the-counter products aren’t enough. These can effectively target acne at its source.


Topical Treatments:

  • Retinoids: Retinoids can help prevent clogged pores and promote cell turnover. They are available in prescription and over-the-counter formulations.
  • Antibiotics: Topical antibiotics prescribed by a doctor or dermatologist can reduce inflammation and kill acne-causing bacteria.
  • Azelaic Acid: This natural acid can reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, and reduce keratin production, which can help prevent clogged pores.


Oral Medications:

  • Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics can help reduce inflammation and bacterial growth. They are typically used for a short duration to avoid antibiotic resistance.
  • Hormonal Therapy: Medications like spironolactone can help balance hormones and reduce acne.

Manage Stress and Get Adequate Sleep

Stress and insufficient sleep can aggravate acne. Stress causes your body to produce more cortisol, which increases oil production in your skin and can result in blocked pores and acne. Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep-breathing exercises can help manage stress levels.

Lack of sleep can raise cortisol levels and disrupt other hormones, leading to more inflammation and breakouts. Sleep is when your body repairs itself, including your skin. Adequate rest ensures your skin has time to heal and regenerate. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.


Acne after stopping birth control can be frustrating, but with the right approach, it’s manageable. Understanding the role of hormones, maintaining a consistent skincare routine, adopting a healthy diet, considering topical treatments and medications, and managing stress and sleep can all contribute to clearer skin. If your acne persists or worsens, consult a dermatologist for personalised advice and treatment options.


About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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