Manage acne with spironolactone for women on LARC
Dr. Barbieri’s editorial with Dr. Roe addressed the very important theme of proactively talking about acne before a patient starts long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), especially when switching from a birth control pill that had controlled the acne to a levonorgestrel intrauterine device (LNG-IUD). It missed the mark, however, in not mentioning a very important presenting feature of adolescent polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—cystic acne. I highly recommend obtaining baseline testosterone levels and using spironolactone, 50 to 200 mg daily, to treat acne while on LARC, especially an LNG-IUD. I learned this trick a few years ago from a Canadian endocrinologist.
John Lewis, MD
Dr. Barbieri responds
I thank Dr. Lewis for the important clinical pearl to use spironolactone to prevent and treat acne when inserting a progestin-releasing LARC in an adolescent or young woman. Spironolactone blocks testosterone action in the pilosebaceous unit, thereby decreasing sebum production and reducing acne activity. I frequently use spironolactone in my practice, especially for women with PCOS who have hirsutism and acne (see my editorial on page 8 of this issue). However, authors of a recent systematic review reported that there is minimal evidence from clinical trials to support the use of spironolactone to treat acne vulgaris.1
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