"Here, you have to try this," my friend Nancy said, sliding a yellow tablet to me across her bathroom vanity. "It changed my life." No, it wasn't some hot new party drug, but rather, spironolactone, a prescription diuretic commonly used for people with high blood pressure—and sometimes prescribed to women with acne. After hearing me bemoan the hormonal acne that had been clogging my chin and jawline, popping up right around my period, Nancy thought it might help me, but as for me? I was less sure. I used to be a nurse practitioner and was really familiar with the drug, but had never heard of it being used for acne.
Does it really work for acne? "Yes!" Nancy said. "And the best part is that it gets rid of my bloating, too." Curious, I made an appointment with my dermatologist, went on "spiro"–as it is lovingly called by its devotees–and indeed, it was life changing. Well, face changing anyway.
According to Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist specializing in acne at New York City's Schweiger Dermatology Group, hormonal acne is cyclically occurring with your period, and usually shows up along the jawline and chin, presenting as "deep, tender" lesions. You know the ones. They pop up, so the medical theory goes, because certain lucky ladies have an increased sensitivity to circulating testosterone. (Yes, women normally have testosterone floating around in their systems.) The testosterone causes oil glands to go into hyper-drive, causing breakouts. So in addition to its pee-inducing and blood pressure reducing qualities, spiro works to decrease circulating testosterone in a few different ways. And the less testosterone there is, the less havoc on your skin. You can read more here!