Dolly Doctor

Will taking the pill help my acne?

When your skins not looking great, it can seriously get you down. So, want to get it sorted, stat? You should read this.

Dear DOLLY,

I am 12 years old, I have hormonal acne and it's getting worse. I was on antibiotics twice a day but it didn't work. I have tried everything. I was just wondering, will going on the pill at my age affect my chances of having children?

Sarah It sounds as though you have had moderately severe acne from a young age. But don't despair - there are several safe, effective treatments for acne, including the pill for girls.

Any treatments that involve tablets or prescription medication should be supervised by a doctor - either a general practitioner or a skin specialist if necessary. Although most adolescents get acne, it varies enormously in severity and sometimes it can be helped just with over the counter acne creams and gels. However if the acne is widespread - such as all over the face, or including the chest and upper arms - or if it is "cystic" (that means the skin comes up in big cysts or lumps) then prescription medication is more effective.

Antibiotics work by killing the skin bacteria that are responsible for pimple forming. They will take several weeks to work, so if you've only just started taking your antibiotics it's worth waiting for 6-8 weeks. Girls can also go on the pill, which is safe and does not affect your chances of later having children. The pill also has the added advantage of regulating periods and helping period pain if these are problems, and also provides contraception if required.

For extremely severe acne a drug called Roaccutane can be prescribed but this has potentially serious side effects including joint and muscle pain and has also been linked to depression, so must be very carefully supervised and can only be prescribed by a skin specialist. However, it is extremely good at treating severe cystic acne. Your GP who prescribed your antibiotics should have asked you to come back for follow up & so pay him or her another visit and discuss going on the pill or other options.