Spironolactone (spear-on-oh-lack-tone), an FDA-approved medication for high blood pressure, has gained increased interest for its ability to treat acne in women. Our dermatologists have more than a decade in practice together utilizing this medication to help patients treat acne. For this reason, we would like to discuss more details about the use of spironolactone for acne.
Spironolactone for Acne
Adult female acne is incredibly common. This is a hormonal-driven process that can develop at any point in life and persist for lengthy periods of time. Of all the patients presenting to Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands/Acne Institute for Acne Treatment, approximately one-third are adult women. This is relatively surprising since most of us think about teenagers when we talk about acne.
What Causes Acne?
We know that the hormone testosterone has a very important role in most cases of acne. This is generally considered to be the male sex hormone, but even women normally make a small amount of this hormone. Testosterone increases the production of oil in our skin and increases the possibility of pores plugging, therefore contributing to acne.
Many different treatments are available for acne. Acne treatment options include topical medications that you apply to the skin and oral medications. Though spironolactone is not technically FDA-approved for acne specifically, the best dermatologists know that in some cases of acne in women, it can be extremely effective.
We seem to find the medication works best for women who notice a flare-up of their acne around the time of their menstrual cycle, supporting a strong hormonal role for their acne. Spironolactone blocks the effect of testosterone by blocking receptors for the hormone and the production of the hormone. We are seeing more and more women over the last few years who have started taking testosterone therapy—for many reasons generally related to hormonal imbalances. Many of those individuals are also struggling with their acne, and this medication may benefit them.
How does spironolactone work?
Spironolactone is a pill, usually taken once daily. For many patients starting this medication, we will monitor blood pressure. It is extremely rare to see much of a change in the blood pressure level with the doses that we use in dermatology. For some patients over the age of 45, or with personal or family history of high blood pressure or kidney issues, blood laboratory monitoring may also be necessary. Frequently it takes up to 3 months for the medicine to kick in and begin working. However, many will notice a reduction in oil production and pimples within the first few weeks. Avoid pregnancy while on this medication, because of the possibility of birth defects.
Can men take spironolactone for acne?
Men may develop a side effect known as gynecomastia due to spironolactone. Gynecomastia (guy-nuh-koh-MAS-tee-uh) is an increase in the amount of breast gland tissue in boys or men. An imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone causes gynecomastia. Dermatologists do not recommend spironolactone for the treatment of acne in males.
If you or a loved one are struggling with acne, please consider seeing us for a consultation. We have extensive experience treating acne vulgaris in patients of all ages.
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists
At Advanced Dermatology the Midlands Our vision is to deliver the highest level of dermatological care, using the most advanced technology and evidence-based medicine in a personalized and compassionate environment. Contact us to schedule a consultation.