In today’s blog post, let’s discuss spironolactone as a treatment for cystic acne in more detail. First let’s recap our prior discussion. We discussed how spironolactone blocks the activity of hormones called androgens that can trigger acne-prone oil glands to become overactive. Spironolactone is effective against cystic acne because it reduces the levels of acne-causing androgens through a variety of means to decrease overall androgen action of the oil glands.
Spironolactone Is Very Effective
Spironolactone can be a very effective treatment for cystic acne. Patients at the Advanced Acne Institute are often unfamiliar with this treatment option. They have usually tried a variety of less effective therapies to treat cystic acne, including topical medications and oral antibiotics — usually without much success. Sometimes, antibiotic pills seem to help in the beginning but more often they do not offer a satisfactory long term solution for cystic acne.
Spironolactone Is Usually Well Tolerated
Spironolactone is usually a very well tolerated treatment for cystic acne. Most patients have very few side effects from spironolactone. Because spironolactone can cause certain birth defects if taken while pregnant, women who take this drug are advised to use two forms of effective birth control during treatment. Birth control pills are also helpful in reducing the possibility of breast tenderness or irregular menstrual periods that can result as side effects from taking spironolactone. Patients are also counseled on the possibility of potassium retention by the body caused by this drug. Patients are monitored for this potential side effect by blood testing periodically during treatment. Patients with normal kidney function usually don’t have any problems with potassium levels during treatment. Also, patients are advised not to take potassium supplements during treatment.
Treatment of Acne Is Actually A Side Effect
Treatment of cystic acne with spironolactone is actually a side effect of the original use of the drug, which was formulated as a blood pressure medication. Because spironolactone can reduce blood pressure even when taken to treat cystic acne, patients are counseled to watch for symptoms of low blood pressure such as light headedness, and their blood pressure is monitored at each office visit. This drug also functions as a diuretic or water pill so some patients who take it for acne can notice the need for frequent urination.
Spironolactone Should Not Be Used For All Patents
Not all patients can take spironolactone for treatment of cystic acne. Because spironolactone blocks male hormones called androgens, it should not be given to treat acne in women who have or have had certain hormone-responsive cancers, such as certain breast, uterine or ovarian cancers. Also, patients with a strong family history of these types of cancers should consider the risks when deciding whether to take this drug.
There are other potential side effects and other factors to consider when deciding on spironolactone as a possible acne treatment. For those who take this medication, spironolactone is usually a very effective method of acne cyst therapy.