Spironolactone can be classified as an aldosterone receptor antagonist. It causes the kidneys to eliminate excess sodium and water through urine, but reduces the loss of potassium. It has diuretic properties. Though it is not the first line of defense against acne breakouts, it is highly effective against acne caused by hormonal changes.
Acne is a skin disorder that mainly occurs in women due to hormonal fluctuations. Though acne usually, first appears during adolescence, hormonally influenced acne mainly occurs during early to mid-twenties and can persist well into adulthood. The cause of hormonal acne is mainly associated with androgens, hormones stimulating the sebaceous or oil glands, and hair follicles in the skin. Due to hormonal fluctuations, the oil production in the skin increases, causing blockage of pores that finally results in acne. Hence, most women experience increased facial oiliness and acne flare-ups like pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads.
Treatment with Spironolactone
Acne treatment usually involves use of topical lotions, creams, or gels, and sometimes prescribed antibiotics as well. However, in some cases, these treatment options don’t work and hence, an anti-androgenic treatment with spironolactone is carried out. Due to its androgen inhibiting properties, it is given to women when there is excess of androgen production, the main cause of female acne. It blocks the androgen receptors in the body and forbids the cells from absorbing androgen hormones. Hence, it simply limits the hormonal fluctuations that cause acne breakouts.
The medication is given once or twice a day as prescribed by the dermatologist, depending upon the severity of the patient’s condition. The medication is normally used along with birth control pills, and in some cases, the pills are recommended a week or a month before prescribing spironolactone. It is highly effective for women having hormonal disorders that activate acne or other problems, like, unwanted facial hair. It is also beneficial for some other skin disorders, like, androgenetic alopecia, hirsutism, and suppurativa.
Precautions and Side Effects
The medicine is not recommended, if the patient is on ACE inhibitors and has a family history of breast cancer, uterus or ovarian cancers, or is suffering from kidney problems. In such cases, always inform your doctor before taking the medicine. The medicine intake should be avoided during pregnancy and by women having renal insufficiency or abnormal menstrual bleeding. Both, blood pressure and blood potassium levels should be checked regularly, while you’re on this medication.
There are rarely any side effects due to low dosage, but with higher doses women may experience the following health problems:
- Irregular menstruation
- Breast tenderness
- Breathing problems
- Swelling in the face and neck
- Thirst, dry mouth
- Stomach cramps, vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Low blood pressure
- Headache and dizziness
- Increased blood potassium levels
Women between the age group of 20 to 30 suffering from irregular periods, often suffer from acne, especially during premenstrual periods. According to some studies, up to 66% of women, who took spironolactone, have experienced outstanding improvement in their skin, and when taken along with oral contraceptives, the number has increased to 85%. One has to be patient while taking the medicine, as it may take a few weeks to show noticeable improvement in the skin. Drink plenty of water while on the medication, as it also acts as a diuretic. The medicine is sold under the brand name Aldactone, and if you develop any of the above-mentioned side effects, consult your doctor right away.