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Medications Can Cause Aggravation Or Creation Of Acne

Aug 17, 2007
Acne is a chronic disorder of the hair follicles and sebaceous glands. Acne is characterized by black heads, pimple outbreaks, cysts, infected abscesses, and (sometimes) scarring.

A medication is a licenced drug taken to cure or reduce symptoms of an illness or medical condition.Medications are generally divided into two groups -- over the counter (OTC) medications, which are available in pharmacies and supermarkets without special restrictions, and prescription only (POM), which must be prescribed by a physician. Most OTC medication is generally considered to be safe enough that most persons will not hurt themselves accidentally by taking it as instructed.

Aggravation: In homeopathy, an aggravation is an intensification of symptoms experienced after the remedy is taken. A healing aggravation, in which current symptoms temporarily intensify or old symptoms temporarily reappear is often a positive sign that a curative process has begun. This phenomenon is also known as a 'healing crisis'.

There are several medications that can trigger a breakout of acne, or aggravate an existing case of acne. Many of these medications and classes of medication are mentioned below and are very helpful in treating acne outbreaks.

In general, any unusual stress or illness may aggravate acne or even cause an acne breakout. In some cases it may be difficult to determine what is causing or aggravating the acne: the illness, the medication you are taking for the illness or your physical or mental stress over the illness.

Caution: If you are taking a prescription medication for a medical condition and the medicine your doctor prescribes causes acne or makes your acne worse, don't stop taking the medicine. Consult your doctor to see if he or she can recommend a different medication that will work for your condition and not perpetuate the acne problem. If he can, then the acne should clear. If, however, you need that particular medicine and only that medicine to control a medical condition, common sense dictates that you should continue the medication and, if possible, control the acne. The other option is learn to live with it and safe ways to cover the blemishes. Acne may be a psychological "pain in the neck" but it isn't dangerous and will not effect your physical health.

Contraceptives: Contraceptives are sometimes prescribed to control acne because these medications affect the body's hormone balance and hormones are a direct link to acne problems. Oral contraceptives contain both estrogen and progestin hormones, the estrogen is fairly stable between brands of contraceptives but there are several different types of progestin and each one will have a different effect.

Oral contraceptives that are most likely to cause worse acne are those that have a low estrogen content and a type of progestin that increases the androgen (male hormone) levels in women. The ONLY women who will be affected, however, are those women who have a tendency toward androgenicity. Some of the pills in this category include:

Loestrin® 1.5/30

Loestrin® 1/20 Fe

Estrostep® Fe

Levlen®

Alesse®

Ovral®

Norlestrin® 1/50

Keep in mind that most women, if they have an acne problem, find that their acne improves when using oral contraceptives. It is the tendency toward androgenicity in some woman that will cause or aggravate acne.

Anticonvulsants: Certain anticonvulsants (such as Dilantin) are prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy and other kinds of seizures as well as for bipolar disorder and some forms of depression. Most anticonvulsants list acne as a common side-effect. Lithium has also been a popular treatment for bipolar disorder and depression. Lithium can also cause acne breakouts.

Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids (like Prednisone) are often used to treat asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Like cortisol, a natural steroid produced by the body during times of intense stress, corticosteroids can stimulate sebum production and lead to acne blemishes.

Sobriety medications: Antabuse (commonly called Disulfuram) is a prescription medicine that is intended to help alcoholics stop drinking. The regular use of Antabuse has been known to cause acne in some of the recovering alcoholics.

Immunosuppressants: Immuran is an immunosuppressant that is used to suppress the immune system in patients awaiting an organ transplant. It can also suppress the patient's natural ability to fight the bacteria that cause acne.

Thyroid is a gland located beneath the voice box (larynx) that produces thyroid hormone. The thyroid helps regulate growth and metabolism.

Thyroid preparations: Some thyroid medications (such as Thiourea and Thiouracil) are known to trigger acne. These preparations are used to stimulate the thyroid gland in patients with low thyroid function. Large amounts of iodine, which also helps to regulate thyroid function, can also cause breakouts.

Systemic Steroids: Systemic steroids are synthetic versions of the body's natural steroid, cortisol. Cortisol is normally produced by adrenal glands; systemic steroids are taken to supplement or replace cortisol. Some of these steroids are prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, betamethasone, dexamethasone, triamcinolone and hydrocortisone. While some systemic steroids are prescribed for some skin conditions but may, in certain patients, also cause a breakout of acne while curing the original skin condition.

Anabolic steroids: Anabolic steroids such as danazol, stanozolol are used (and sometimes abused) by athletes and body-builders to increase muscle bulk. These steroids will cause severe cases of acne in some of its users.

Cosmetics and Acne: Acne that is caused by cosmetics is called "acne cosmetica." This type of acne is triggered by cosmetic products rather than through the natural process that creates normal acne. Acne cosmetica is characterized by a rash of small pink bumps on the cheeks, chin and forehead; this condition develops slowly and may or may not be short-lived. If you've recently started using a new skin care product and you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, discontinue use of the new product for a few days and see if your breakout subsides.

Acne is painful - on the inside. We live in a culture where not just youth, but beauty is worshipped. It's everywhere and you can't escape it. The results of having acne can be emotionally devastating for teenagers as they are extremely conscious of their appearance and their image.
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