I've had stubborn acne since age 13. Recently, my face, chest, upper arm and back are breaking out like crazy. I have a very oily complexion in the t-zone area and pimples on my forehead, chin, jaw area and both sides of my face. These pimples leave behind brown/reddish marks all over the sides of my face that take years to fade away! After 2 weeks taking Spiro (once a day, 50 mg) i'm beginning to see a change. I've noticed my face is less oily, and my forehead has for the most part cleared up. I did however experience a a bad break out on my chin and the left side of my face after about 4 days of taking Spiro but that has cleared up now. Although I havent seen a HUGE difference yet, im going to be patient with it. SIde effects in the first wk were frequent urination especially in the few hours after taking a dose and I got my period 1 wk early. It was an extremely light period though--just brown spotting.
I have such mixed feelings about Spiro (along with Glucophage 1000mg for PCOS)
I have only been taking it for 3 weeks, and the side effects are insane.
I have lost 14 pounds in 3 weeks. My boobs are bigger. My skin is clear, glowing and.. beautiful, quite frankly. I have struggled with acne since the age of 17 on, and it has always been a source of embarassment for me. My hair in shiny, soft, and not falling out.
I feel dizzy and tired all of the time. I have ZERO appetite, have to force myself to eat anything or drink anything. I developed a kidney infection due to dehydration from not drinking enough. I feel jittery and have headaches a lot since starting Spiro.
I am taking 50mg once a day, and I am going to cut them in half to see if I feel any better. I love the pros, but the cons, to me, are almost unbearable.
Made me weepy and fat. And then had my period for 4 weeks when I stopped taking it. And then toxic shock. In the hospital for 9 days. Beware, these are strong hormones.
I suffer from terrible cyctic acne and have since I was a teenager. I've tried everything under the sun to get rid of this curse that has left my face with many pock marks and dark spots. My dermatologist kept putting me on antibiotics, and, truthfully, they worked but only for so long. Not to mention, I'm not the biggest fan of prolonged antibiotic use, because it's really unhealthy for your insides. My other problem is that I knew my cyctic acne was caused mainly by hormones. Anyways, I happened to be watching a makeup blogger, and she explained the medication that she was using -- Spironolactone. She had success with this medication, and I knew that I needed to give this a try.
I'm in my first month of useing this medication, and this review is just of what I've experienced so far while taking Spironolactone, as this medication is supposed to take a few months before anyone can see significant results. The night that I started taking the medication I had bad stomach cramps and was in and out of the bathroom. A day after starting on this medication, I noticed that my face and the crown of my scalp was not oily. This is great because around that time of the month my face and scalp would get SO oily, that no matter how well I washed my hair, it felt like I hadn't showered. Yeah, it was gross. My face has remained oil-free feeling, but I have to use oil-free moisturizer after I wash my face because it does dry out and get pretty tight feeling. Many people have said that they experienced a major weight-loss, and, sadly, I haven't, at least not yet. hahaha! Really though, I haven't noticed any difference in less acne, but I have had a pretty bad breakout around my chin and even around my ears.
My hope is that this medication will work after a while. So far there is nothing too bad to complain about, but I'll keep everyone updated.
UPDATE July 27th-
The oiliness on my face and crown of scalp has kind of returned. The acne around my mouth and on my ears still hasn't gone away. I havent had acne around my ear area in a long time. No weight loss or weight gain. Though it hasn't been a month, it feels as though I'm almost taking a step backwards rather than progressing in my struggle to get clear skin because nothing has changed for the better. Anyways, I'm going to continue to stick with this for a few more months.
First of all, this is a prescription drug so you need to make sure to take the advice of your doctor with this. However, I can tell you that this has worked wonders on my skin when nothing else (prescription topicals and antibiotics) would! I have not tried accutane before so I can't speak for that.
Spironolactone (the brand name is Aldactone) was actually designed to control blood pressure, but the dosage prescribed for acne typically is a lower dosage. It is a diuretic and potassium sparing. Because of this, depending on your dosage, you will need to make sure to drink plenty of water and have your blood checked to monitor potassium levels. If you are taking a high dose, you may have to monitor that you do not eat an excessive amount of foods that are high in potassium.
The great effect this medication has on acne is that it can block androgens. This is one reason that it is really a treatment for women with acne and not men. If you have hormonal acne, this can do wonders. It also really seemed to help my skin's oiliness. I have combo skin, but the oily parts of my skin were really improved by this.
I have read that it typically takes 4 months to see significant improvement, but I saw it start in a week. I also find to not get worried that your dosage isn't high enough. Give it time. A lot of people respond great on only 25mg or 50 mg (these are considered low dosages), and it would be ideal to use the lowest dosage needed. I also have found a big difference in splitting the dosage up (half in the morning/half at night) so see if your doctor says that's an option for you. I haven't had side effects on 50mg/day.
Some cons: This drug has a "black box" warning because when tested on rats---with a dose over 50 times higher than would would be prescribed to humans---it caused tumors. However, this journal entry from the US National Library of Medicine really addresses this concern: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315877/
Also, when I did go off of this medication, my acne came back in a few months. So, it is more of a management...not a cure. Definitely worth a try though.
Okay, so I'm going to write a review on this medication, finally, after having been on it since September of last year (approx. 8 months). For me, it has changed my life in a few ways besides taking care of the dreaded cystic acne.
I'm going to share something that might be TMI. I used to have a very...pungent body odor. I've been told that it wasn't necessarily bad, but it was very strong. It would linger in my clothing even after I washed them. It was embarrassing for me. I would cringe every time my boyfriend's face would go anywhere near my pit region. I was very aware of the scent and there was no deodorant in the world that could touch it (I tried them all). Then I started taking Spiro. Within a few weeks, I realized that I no longer had a lingering scent. I could wear clothing more than once, and there was no odor. My pits just smelled like...smelly good deodorant. I can't tell you how stoked I was to discover this. I would take this medication for this fact alone. It's crazy awesome.
My skin was ridiculously oily. Like, nasty, grease-slick oily. Makeup would only last 1-2 hours before sliding off and becoming patchy and disgusting. It didn't matter what makeup I was using, the result was always the same. After a few weeks (less than a month) of using Spiro at 100mg, my face was what I would consider "normal". Neither oily nor dry. My makeup looks fantastic all day, regardless of the foundation I use. Anyone who struggles with extremely oily skin AND cystic acne knows how devastating it can be. It's like you can't even cover up the horrible marks all over your face, because the makeup will slip off and look even worse that your bare skin in a few hours.
Spiro cured my cystic acne. It didn't happen over night. It didn't happen within the first few months. It was a VERY gradual process over the course of the last 8 months. And I still get zits and inflamed pores once or twice a month. But I no longer get the painful, gigantic cysts that leave indented scars in my skin.
Spiro is something you have to stick with. You have to be consistent. You have to realize that it can and will take many months for your acne to clear up to a manageable level.
Now for the bad. Because, there's always some sort of negative side effect with any medication you take. For me, it increased the amount of little visible veins in my legs. But in saying that, I will also say that it was probably because of the hormonal fluctuation. You can see an increase in leg veins if you are pregnant or take birth control, too. It's not horrendous. The only person that notices is me. But it is something to be aware of.
The first few months, while getting acclimated to the medication, I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee. When I would stand up, I would get extremely dizzy. I'm assuming it's because it lowers your blood pressure. After a few months, though, this went away.
It messes with your period. My period happens anywhere between 30-45 days now. Sometimes I get random spotting. It kind of sucks, and it could probably be remedied if I took it with birth control, but birth control is what transformed my skin from normal and blemish free to a cystic mess of a grease-slick. Wasn't willing to chance that crap again, so I just deal with the irregularities of my period.
I hope this was helpful. I know that while I was waiting for the medication to work it helped to read other people's experiences with it as motivation to keep going with it. It does work, it just take a lot more time than someone struggling with cystic acne would like it to take.
This medication has been nothing short of a miracle for my skin. I've been acne-prone on and off throughout my 30s and early 40s. Topicals helped somewhat, but I still got hormonal cysts that would take forever to go away if I didn't get them injected with cortisone. It got to the point where I had very few clogged pores, no pustules or regular zits - just the deep, pea-sized cysts on my chin and jawline. Spironolactone began to get rid of my cysts almost immediately. I had no initial breakout - just got clearer and clearer. I have been on the medication for almost 6 months now, and have not had a single cyst in that time. I was probably getting 1-2 a month on average before I started the med, sometimes more than that. I am on a fairly low dose - 25 mg, 2x a day. No side effects to speak of, other than a slight increase in urination and thirst. I do find that higher doses tend to make me a little light-headed, so I'm glad that I am getting results with just 50 mg a day.
Definitely worth asking your derm about if you are suffering from acne that is largely cystic and hormonal.
I'll be 39 this year. My teen years aside from one major pimple every now and then were acne free, as were my 20's and half of my 30's. Suddenly at 37 years old I started getting the worst "pizza face" cystic acne I ever had all around my face. I was incredibly embarrassed and wore my long hair down in hopes of covering my scarring face. I'm typically very confident but with the incredible amount of acne that never left I avoided being in the spotlight or leaving the house.
I tried retinol, face creams, scrubs etc.
Finally a dermatologist visit was in order.
Last year they claimed it was all hormonal and put me on Spiro. I was warned it would take a long time.
Six months no results. I would have given up had the doctor not told me I'd see no changes for a very long time.
Trusting him I did it with no results.
Very slowly about 9 months into it changes happened. To make a very long story short
My skin has NEVER looked better! Smooth. No acne! No embarrassment. Little makeup!
And the best part, getting noticed by very attractive younger men in their 20's.
In the past week alone four different people (guys and gals) thought I was at least 10 years younger than I am, thinking I'm 29!
Commit yourself to this for a year before giving up! You won't be disappointed if it's truly diagnosed as hormonal acne.
I feel great and my skin looks fabulous. Give it a shot. Very pleased but it was a looooooooooooong process. Well worth it.
I was on this stuff for 2-3 yrs and often tried to wean myself off of it even though it helped with my acne. I've always wanted to write a review for it but there's just so much I have to say about it (most of it negative) that it's overwhelming to think about.
This stuff works for acne due to the fact that it blocks your androgen receptors--accutane and birth control btw, have been shown to (permanently) lower testosterone/DHEA levels too, though obviously to a lesser degree... anyways, like other people, I was completely blind to the negative reivews and didn't understand the problems that could come with taking a medication like this when I first researched it. I had bad acne and this stuff was a desperate last ditch effort before tryng accutane.
Like everyone else I initally experienced weight loss due to the fact that it's a diuretic. However, I quickly gained that weight back--and about 7 more lbs on top of it!
I also experienced fatigue, horribly dry, irritated skin (I had never had dry skin in my life so I had no idea how to deal with it), and an almost crippling depression (which I later convinced myself was due to the accutane--even though i only went on to do 10mg of accutane for 3 months that year!).
But how could a medication like this--a diuretic acne-fighting super star--cause weight gain and depression? BECAUSE IT LOWERS YOUR TESTOSTERONE and DHEA LEVELS. You're probably thinking well duh, isn't that the whole point?
Unfortunately, these hormones (like all hormones) are responsible for a multitude of functions: our sense of well being and even our metabolism (to a certain extent) being some of them. For example: no testosterone= no lean muscle mass= slower metabolism and higher body fat percentage.
This is why we've got some women complaining of cellulite and body fat in weird places (this stuff can change your body composition and make you estrogen dominate). If you don't work out or don't have much lean muscle in the first place it won't be as noticeable.
It also has the ability to lower your sex drive but then again, so does birth control (in fact studies show that birth control can do all these things--some of them permanently).
I can say from personal experience that the weight I gained while on this stuff, WOULD NOT BUDGE despite the fact that I exercised for over 90 minutes a day (embarrassing to admit). It drove me crazy so over the years, I'd just keep lowering my dosage more and more which resulted in horrible acne (though no worse than before) and oily skin (definitely worse than before but I think some of it was due to having to take wellbutrin for the depression).
Eventually I had to do accutane, but even on accutane I was too afraid to go lower than 25mgs of spiro, which I would split in half to take am and pm (sidenote: super important to take this stuff 2x a day am and pm!). I had stayed on that dose about a year and a half until I got sick of devoting all my free time to exercise and diet (even such a small dose made it really hard to maintain my weight).
There's really no telling whether you will experience these side effects to this degree as I suspect it's up to your own individual biology. I've seen many women claiming to have very high androgen levels complaining of this same stuff while others have nothing negative to say about spiro, so who knows (also if you're on certain bc pills you might already be experiencing these symptoms). I also feel like some of it developed slowly over time for me (the 1st year it didn't seem as hard to maintain my weight), which fits with how this med works.
All I know is, I am officially off of this crap and for once, I feel great and am not experiencing the horrible acne or ugliness (I believe the drop in estrogen causes some of the ugliness people are complaining of when they get off this stuff). I also seem to have lost those 7lbs within like WEEKS, so I suspect a lot of it was water. It's amazing but I was only able to do this through balancing out my hormones naturally with supplements and probiotics.
I'm 20 years old. I've always had acne prone skin but it was never really horrible. During high school it was just like everyone else's hormonal acne. A few pimples here and there, sometimes it would be for a couple months at a time. It was nothing I needed any oral medication for. I just used pink drying potion and was prescribed Benzaclin. After being really stressed out and depressed for a couple months when I was 18 my skin got horrible. I had really deep cystic acne and it was all over my jawline and my chin. I thought it would go away and so I didn't go to the dermatologist. After it breaking out for about 2 months, I got really bad scars on the sides of my cheeks. My skin went back to normal for about a year. Then, around the same time when I was 19 I broke out really bad again. This time I went to the dermatologist right away. I got on Doxy and Acanya. It worked for about 3 months and then I started breaking out again. My doctor then put me on Spiro, Doxy and Acanya. I was on 50 mg a day and it work RIGHT AWAY. My skin was flawless and it improved the scars, the texture and I had a glow to my skin. I didn't really have any side effects on it at all at first. About 2 months into it I noticed my cheeks were bigger looking and my thighs were HUGE. I'm 5'2 and I weighed 118 before I got on Spiro. Right after I quit I weighed 135. I looked at pictures from the beach and the back of my legs had cellulite all over them. Noone in my family has cellulite and I never did before Spiro. I didn't eat more, didn't change my diet. I know for a fact it was the Spiro that made me gain weight. Right when I noticed I had, I went to the gym and I couldn't loose the weight. I couldn't get my legs to tone and get rid of the cellulite. My skin looked good but I would rather have a couple pimples and find another product than gain 15+ pounds in 2 months. I read that once you get off Spiro your skin is HORRIBLE. I tried to let my body off it slowly, so I went to 25 mg and then to half a 25 mg pill and eventually off. I've been off it about 6 months now and I still have HUGE thighs and cellulite. It's gotten a lot better but my body isn't shaking it. Once I noticed I had gained weight I knew it was Spiro and searched to see if anyone had the same symptoms. I found a website with about 200+ girls who all had weight gain in their face, thighs and produced cellulite. It makes your skin look great so if you don't care about gaining weight, you should do it but I will never take it again. No matter how bad my skin gets, it's not worth gaining that much weight to me. I would rather do Accutane.