Spironolactone for acne


Spironolactone for acne

Spironolactone for acne is a steroid treatment used in women. Its effectiveness against acne is proven when it is about acne caused by hormonal fluctuations. But as it is not a « natural » treatment, it can cause side effects. To learn everything about spironolactone for acne, here are the best articles from the net collected for you to help you decide whether this could be a good treatment for you or not.

Spironolactone for Acne Treatment

Spironolactone for acneHealthcare providers may occasionally prescribe spironolactone for women who have not responded to more conventional acne treatments. Since the drug can decrease testosterone or block androgen receptors, it can help women who have acne caused by high male hormone levels. Treating acne with spironolactone is considered to be an « off-label » use of the drug.

Is Spironolactone Used for Acne Treatment?

Spironolactone (Aldactone®) is a prescription medication licensed to treat various conditions, including high blood pressure and fluid retention. It may also be used « off-label » to treat other conditions, such as severe acne in women who have not responded to more conventional acne treatments.

What Does « Off-Label » Mean?

When spironolactone is used to treat acne, it is considered an off-label use. Off-label is when a prescription medicine is used to treat a disease or condition for which the drug has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although the FDA regulates how a medication can be advertised or promoted by the manufacturer, these regulations do not restrict a healthcare provider’s ability to prescribe the medication for different conditions, in different doses, or for different lengths of time. Your healthcare provider will prescribe a medicine for off-label use when he or she feels that the medicine is appropriate for your situation.

How Does Spironolactone Work for Acne Treatment?

Spironolactone for acneIn addition to being a diuretic (or « water pill »), spironolactone is also an anti-androgen, which means that it counteracts the effects of male hormones (androgens). It may decrease the level of male hormones (such as testosterone) or block androgen receptors.

It is normal for women to have low levels of male hormones; however, high levels can cause problems (including acne).

The most common way to treat acne due to high levels of male hormones is using oral contraceptives (birth control pills). This helps to correct hormone imbalance and block the effects of male hormones in the skin. However, not all women can take oral contraceptives (or they might not be effective enough). In these cases, spironolactone is sometimes used to treat acne. Spironolactone is often used in combination with oral contraceptives for this use.

Risks of Treating Acne With Spironolactone

Spironolactone, like any other medication, has side effects (see Spironolactone Side Effects), some of which may be dangerous. Because spironolactone affects hormones, it often causes menstrual changes, such as irregular or absent periods. It is important to keep in mind that spironolactone should not generally be used in pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Aldactone and Pregnancy and Aldactone and Breastfeeding).

Final Thoughts
Although it is not approved for this use, spironolactone may be used « off-label » to treat acne in women. It is usually reserved for women who do not respond to other acne treatments. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using spironolactone for acne.


Treating Acne with Spironolactone

Spironolactone for acneAn Acne Treatment for Women with Hormonal AcneSpironolactone is used to treat many different disorders, from high blood pressure to fluid retention. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t recognize spironolactone as an acne treatment, it is often prescribed off-label to treat hormonally influenced breakout in women.

This medication isn’t a first line of defense against acne breakouts. It is only effective against acne caused by hormonal fluctuations. But it can be especially helpful for women with hormonal disorders that trigger acne or who suffer with other problems, like unwanted facial hair.

Spironolactone is only available by prescription from your doctor. It is also sold under the brand name Aldactone.

How It Works

Spironolactone is in a group of drugs classified as anti-androgens. Androgen hormones, like testosterone, are typically thought of as male hormones. But androgens are also present in the female body, although in lower levels.

Some women produce more androgen hormones than needed. Anti-androgens like spironolactone block androgen receptors in the body, preventing cells from absorbing androgen hormones. Simply, spironolactone limits hormonal fluctuations that can contribute to acne breakouts. Hormones, specifically androgens, have been linked to the development of acne.

Because of the way spironolactone works, only women whose acne has a hormonal basis will see results with this medication. But for those women who have hormonal acne, the drug can do a good job in helping to manage breakouts. Some studies found up to 66% of women who took spironolactone had excellent improvement or complete clearing of the skin. When used in combination with oral contraceptives this number jumps to 85%, according to one study.

Common Usage Directions

When using spironolactone as an acne treatment, the most common dosage is between 50 to 100 mg daily. Many dermatologists start off prescribing 25 mg and work up to the target dosage over the course of several weeks. Your doctor will determine the most appropriate dosage for you, depending on your personal situation.

If your breakouts only tend to occur around the time of your monthly cycle, your dermatologist may have you use spironolactone for the week just prior to your period.

Spironolactone is often prescribed along with oral contraceptives. It can also be used in conjunction with other topical acne medications.

Possible Side Effects

Spironolactone for acneSide effects with low dose spironolactone aren’t as common as with higher doses, but most often include:

irregular menstrual cycle
breast tenderness

Other side effects can be:

thirst, dry mouth
stomach cramps, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
increased blood potassium levels
low blood pressure

Both blood potassium levels and blood pressure should be checked periodically while you’re taking this medication. Also, you shouldn’t get pregnant while taking it. And this medication isn’t a good choice for you if you have kidney problems, or a history (or family history) of breast cancer, uterine cancer, or ovarian cancer.

Tips for Using Spironolactone

*Take your pill with a meal if it upsets your stomach.
*Drink plenty of water. Spironolactone acts as a diuretic.
*Be patient. It will probably take several weeks before you really notice an improvement in your skin.
*Let your doctor know if you develop any side effects.


Use of Spironolactone for Acne

Spironolactone for acneSpironolactone is an oral medication used to treat acne in some women. Hormone fluctuations can cause excess sebum production–which in turn leads to clogged pores and inflamed blemishes. However, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that spironolactone is not appropriate for every woman with acne.

About Spironolactone

The drug spironolactone, which goes by the trade name Aldactone, is used for a variety of purposes. Mayo Clinic experts state that it can be used to treat high blood pressure in conjunction with other medications, as well as water retention caused by heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver and certain kidney disorders. It is also used to prevent the adrenal gland from producing a hormone called aldosterone, which in turn reduces high androgen levels that may cause acne.

Treatment for Acne

Information provided by the AAD indicates that spironolactone is only one medication that may be used to treat hormonal acne in adult women. This type of acne, which occurs in women over the age of 20, presents in the form of acne lesions that are often limited to the lower part of the face and around the chin, jawline and upper neck. Some women notice that acne becomes worse than it was when they were in their teens. Spironolactone may be administered on its own or used in conjunction with oral contraceptives when other forms of treatment, such as topical medication and oral antibiotics, fail to resolve acne.

When Is It Used?

Any type of medication used to treat hormonal acne must be prescribed carefully, after patients are thoroughly screened, warns dermatologist Bethanee J. Schlosser, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Hormonal therapies such as spironolactone and oral contraceptives must be used on a regular basis for at least 3 months to measure their efficacy. Schlosser states that although the medication can resolve adult-onset acne caused by hormone fluctuations, female patients should consult with a dermatologist to ensure that hormonal therapy is appropriate for their needs.

Safety Study

Spironolactone for acneLike other medications, spironolactone can cause any number of undesirable side effects that should be reported to a doctor immediately. However, a 2002 study conducted by the University of Toronto on the use of spironolactone to treat acne indicated that of 91 women who were followed over the course of 8 years, none developed a serious health conditions due to spironolactone use. Fifty-nine percent of women reported side effects, mainly irregular menstrual periods and symptoms related to the drug’s diuretic properties. Researchers concluded that spironolactone appears to be a safe long-term treatment for adult acne in women.

Appropriate Use

Mayo Clinic experts state that oral spironolactone should be taken according to a doctor’s instructions. Dosage should never be adjusted by the patient. If a dose is accidentally missed, spironolactone should be taken as soon as possible, unless it’s almost time for the next dose. « Doubling up » the medication is not advised.


Many women found this treatment to be very effective, but remember to avoid spironolactone for acne if you are pregnant.

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