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Using Spironolactone to Treat Acne

By Sarah Davis ; Updated July 18, 2017

Some people think of acne as a skin problem only for teenagers. In fact, many people suffer from acne, whether they are young or old, female or male. Acne not only affects the skin, causing pimples and scarring, but it can also affect a person's self-esteem. There are many treatments on the market for acne, some of which are not effective for those with severe acne. Spironolactone is an prescription pill which often is prescribed to regulate hormone levels, to treat high blood pressure or reduce swelling in the body. It can also be an effective treatment for acne, especially in females.

  1. Check in with your family doctor to get a regular physical and to discuss the benefits and risks of taking spironolactone. Your doctor will tell you if you are healthy enough to use spironolactone or if there are other acne treatments that would be safer in your situation. The National Institutes of Health states that spironolactone is most often prescribed for hormonal imbalances and edema and that it is not safe for people with certain medical conditions, such as electrolyte imbalances. If your doctor deems it safe for your personal situation, he will prescribe it or refer you to see a dermatologist.

  2. Visit your dermatologist to talk about the option of spironolactone and also about using it in conjunction with birth control. Either a general family physician or a dermatologist can prescribe both spironolactone and birth control, yet it is important to get the perspective from both professionals. Not everyone wants to take birth control, but if it is right for you, it can increase the effectiveness of spironolactone. The American Academy of Dermatology states that oral contraceptives can reduce the amount of oil produced in the glands, similar to the way that spironolactone works. Using the two together is very effective in reducing acne for females, states the American Academy of Dermatology.

  3. Take spironolactone once or twice daily, as prescribed, and avoid potassium- rich foods and supplements. Spironolactone inhibits the body's ability to get rid of potassium, according to the National Institutes of Heath. Therefore, getting too much potassium could be dangerous. It's best not to take potassium supplements or eat foods like potatoes, bananas and kiwis while on spironolactone.

  4. Maintain adequate facial hygiene so that you reduce your exposure to the bacteria that cause acne. Spironolactone and oral contraceptives can reduce oil in the skin's glands so that acne occurs less often, but acne can also occur when the bacterium P. acnes touches the skin. Try not to touch your face unless you are applying a skin care product and have washed your hands. Also, remember to wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser.

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