Some things to consider before taking combined oral contraceptives:
Side effects: The pill can have some side effects including weight gain, mood changes including depression, migraines, and breast tenderness. It can also cause an increased risk of blood clots, so if you smoke or have any history of heart problems or blood clotting disorders, this might not be the right solution for you.
What They Are: Antibiotics refer to a class of oral and topical medications that are used to reduce bacteria and/or treat bacterial infections. For many dermatologists, the first-line antibiotic of choice is tetracycline, which is often prescribed as minocycline (also known by the brand name Minocin) and doxycycline (Monodox, Targadox).
For people who can’t take a tetracycline—including pregnant women and children under 8 years old—your dermatologist might recommend a macrolide instead, like erythromycin or azithromycin.
How They Work: Antibiotics work to prevent the growth of new bacteria that cause acne and to kill bacteria that may be already present on your skin. By getting rid of the bacteria, you can reduce the number of pimples that pop up, as well as the resulting scarring and improve the overall look and health of your skin.
Why You Might Be Prescribed Them: If you have moderate to severe acne, your dermatologist may prescribe an antibiotic to help tackle any bacteria that may be part of the root cause of the issue.
You Should Keep in Mind: Oral antibiotics should not be used for a prolonged period as they can lead to antibiotic resistance. Benzoyl peroxide is often recommended for use along with topical antibiotics in order to decrease the risk of resistance.
Sun sensitivity: You should be cautious when outside, even on overcast or winter days, as antibiotics can make your skin more prone to burning. In addition to protecting your skin by wearing a hat and using sunscreen whenever possible.
6. Topical Steroids
What They Are: Topical steroids are one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for all types of eczema and are also used in the treatment of psoriasis.
How They Work: Steroids are naturally produced by our bodies to help regulate the growth and functioning of cells and organs. In topical steroids, a synthetic form of this chemical is added to creams and lotions to help reduce skin inflammation and itching.
Why You Might Be Prescribed Them: If you are suffering from the dry, itchy, sometimes painful skin flare-ups that come with eczema, your dermatologist may prescribe a topical steroid to help bring you relief. These creams come in a variety of potencies depending on the severity and location of your skin irritation.
You Should Keep in Mind: If you follow the guidelines for how long topical steroids should be used, side effects are uncommon. But there are a few things to keep in mind:
Keep treatment short: This medication is generally only recommended for short courses of treatment, typically 7 to 14 days, while an eczema flare-up is occurring. Prolonged use of topical steroids can have suppressive effects on hormone levels, so you want to ensure that you are following the guidelines.
7. Topical Calcineurin Inhibitors
What They Are: Topical calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs), which are often prescribed under the names tacrolimus (or Protopic) and pimecrolimus (or Elidel), are another type of medication used to treat moderate to severe eczema symptoms. CNIs are most often prescribed in cases where a topical steroid hasn’t been effective.
How They Work: Eczema is an inflammatory reaction that occurs when your immune system overreacts to an allergen or something in the environment. CNIs work by altering this immune system response and disrupting the skin inflammation that it produces.
Why You Might Be Prescribed Them: If your eczema has not responded well to other treatments, your dermatologist may prescribe CNIs as the next option. They may also be recommended if your eczema flare-ups occur on more delicate skin, including your neck, eyelids, or vaginal area, where topical steroid use is not advised.
You Should Keep in Mind: It is particularly important to follow your doctor’s instructions with CNIs — don’t apply them too often or use too much at one time. A few other things to keep in mind:
What It Is: Cyclosporine (under the brand names Neoral, Gengraf, and Sandimmune) is another type of calcineurin inhibitor (CNI), but it is usually prescribed in pill form and is used by dermatologists to treat severe psoriasis.
How It Works: While topical CNIs work to suppress the immune system from the outside, cyclosporine does the same on the inside. By interrupting an overactive immune response, it can prevent your body from attacking its own cells and causing psoriasis.
Why You Might Be Prescribed It: You are a candidate for cyclosporine if you have severe psoriasis and an otherwise healthy immune system, and if other treatments like topical steroids haven’t worked.
You Should Keep in Mind: In some people, cyclosporine can provide rapid relief from their symptoms, but others may not see improvements for a few weeks. A few other things to keep in mind:
Not safe with compromised immune system: If you currently have a weak immune system or have ever had the condition, consult with your doctor as cyclosporine works to suppress your immune system, and it may not be safe for you.
Many Contraindications: Cyclosporine does not play well with many other medications and supplements. Make sure to get a full list from your doctor, but some common ones include aspirin, ibuprofen, and antibiotics.
Watch your potassium: Because cyclosporine can increase your potassium levels, you will need to watch your potassium intake while on this drug. Potassium-rich foods including bananas, tomatoes, and carrots, should be consumed in limited quantities. Grapefruit should also not be consumed in any form while on this medication. For this reason, your doctor may want to monitor your potassium levels via regular blood work.
9. Mirvaso & Rhofade
What They Are: The gel Mirvaso (brimonidine) and the cream Rhofade (oxymetazoline) are FDA-approved topical medications specifically used to treat the redness that comes with rosacea.
How They Work: Both medications belong to a class of drugs called alpha-agonists that work to constrict blood vessels, which can dramatically reduce facial redness.
Why You Might Be Prescribed Them: If you struggle with redness and flushing brought on by rosacea, your doctor may put you on Mirvaso or Rhofade to provide relief.
You Should Keep in Mind: These topical treatments are temporary, so regular and consistent use is required to see prolonged results. They should also never be applied to the mouth or eyes. A few other things to keep in mind:
Rebound flushing with Mirvaso: Some patients have reported rebound flushing, or intense skin redness, at the end of the day when the Mirvaso gel has worn off. This side effect is not as widely experienced with Rhofade.
Drug interactions: These topical prescriptions can decrease the effectiveness of any medication prescribed to lower blood pressure. They should also be used with caution by anyone on monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which are prescribed for depression, as the two medications used together can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
What Is It: Latisse is an FDA-approved liquid medication used to encourage eyelash growth.
How It Works: Latisse is applied regularly along the lash line of the upper eyelid and is thought to work by lengthening the amount of time eyelash follicles stay in their growth phase, helping to encourage longer, thicker, and darker eyelashes.
Why You Might Be Prescribed It: If you have sparse eyelashes or want to encourage increased growth and fullness, your doctor may prescribe Latisse.
You Should Keep in Mind: Latisse is meant to be used on the upper eyelid only, and results can take up to two months to take effect. Once you stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will eventually return to their regular length and appearance. If you have healthy eyes, Latisse is generally safe to use. But a few side effects to keep in mind.
Eye Discoloration: This medication can also cause your eyelids to darken, a symptom that may go away after you stop using Latisse. In more serious cases, it can also cause the darkening of iris pigmentation, which is not reversible.
What Is It: Vaniqa® is a cream that is FDA-approved for use in slowing the growth of unwanted facial hair.
How It Works: This topical cream works by blocking an enzyme in the skin that is needed for hair growth. This helps to slow the production of new facial hair and to lighten its appearance. However, it does not remove unwanted hair or cause the existing hair to fall out.
Why You Might Be Prescribed It: If you have PCOS-related hirsutism or pesky patches of hair growth on your face, your doctor may prescribe Vaniqa®.
You Should Keep in Mind: Vaniqa® may take several weeks of twice daily use before you begin to see results. A few other factors you should know:
Beginning a new medication can be a big decision, requiring you to weigh the potential for relief with any side effects it may bring. We believe every woman should be armed with all the information she needs to know what questions to ask her doctor and to consider what treatments are right for her health.