If you suddenly develop a rash on your face or body, you may not automatically link it to your birth control method. However, if you’re taking a hormonal form of birth control, it may be the cause.
If you’re allergic to latex and use condoms, you may get a rash. The chemicals in spermicides and the inactive ingredients in birth control pills can also cause an allergic rash.
Birth control can cause several types of rashes. Read on to find out what they are, and what you can do about them.
Birth control often contains estrogen, progestin, or a combination of both. Progestin is a synthetic type of progesterone.
The rashes caused by hormonal birth control methods may be an
There are several types of skin rashes that hormonal forms of birth control may cause or worsen, including:
Erythema nodosum is a common type of inflammation called panniculitis. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the subcutaneous fat layer found directly under the skin.
Erythema nodosum causes painful or tender red bumps on the shins, knees, and other areas of the body. When the rash occurs on the lower legs, it’s usually symmetrical.
This condition has several causes, including pregnancy, infections, and the use of birth control pills or other birth control methods containing progestin.
It has also been
Autoimmune progesterone dermatitis
This rare skin condition is caused by an autoimmune response to the body’s own progesterone. It can cause hives, welts, or a rash that resembles eczema.
The rash erupts right before menstruation begins, when progesterone levels are at their highest for that menstrual cycle.
Taking birth control pills may increase the likelihood of autoimmune progesterone dermatitis occurring, even after you stop using them.
It’s thought that the progestin in hormonal contraceptives increases sensitivity to the body’s natural progesterone, causing an autoimmune response to occur.
Other skin conditions caused by hormonal birth control
In addition to rashes, hormonal birth control can cause other types of skin disorders. They include:
- Melasma. Estrogen and progesterone stimulate cells that contain melanin to produce more pigment when skin is exposed to the sun. This results in brown or grayish-brown patches on the face.
- Hormonal acne. Progesterone alters the pH of skin and the sebaceous glands, which can result in acne breakouts.
- Telangiectasia (spider veins). Estrogen can increase the skin’s sensitivity to light, which can cause spider veins to develop.
Allergic rash from birth control ingredients
You may get a rash from your birth control if you’re allergic to any ingredient it contains. This includes the:
- dyes used to color birth control pills
- chemicals in spermicides
- latex found in condoms
When you come in contact with a substance you’re allergic to, your body launches an immune response against it. The symptoms of an allergic reaction can include an itchy, red rash of hives or welts.
Other allergy symptoms may require immediate medical attention. Call 911 or local emergency services, or go to an emergency room for any of the following symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- swelling of the lips or tongue
- trouble breathing
- difficulty swallowing
Any form of birth control that contains hormones can cause skin rashes to occur in some people.
Birth control methods that use hormones are:
- birth control pills (combination and progestin-only; this includes many brands)
- birth control patch (Ortho Evra, Xulane)
- vaginal ring (NuvaRing)
- birth control shot (Depo-Provera)
- hormonal intrauterine devices, or IUDs (Mirena, Skyla, Liletta)
Allergic rashes can also result from the:
- latex in condoms
- chemicals in spermicide
- inactive ingredients and dyes in birth control pills
Some people have allergies to the ingredients in certain types of birth control. This will make them more likely to get an allergic rash when they use them.
If you have a known allergy to an ingredient used in birth control, such as latex, you should not use that type.
It’s not completely understood why some people get rashes from hormonal birth control methods and others do not. In some instances, an autoimmune response facilitated by hormonal allergies may be the reason.
Birth control methods can cause a variety of side effects. They include:
If you suspect that your birth control method is causing a rash, talk with a healthcare professional. They may recommend trying a different type of birth control.
They may also recommend intradermal allergy testing so that the exact allergen causing the rash can be identified. Removing the triggering substance is the best way to stop rashes caused by birth control.
Antihistamine medications can be effective for reducing or eliminating allergic reactions caused by latex and other allergens.
Erythema nodosum may get better over time on its own. In some cases, it may require prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications, including cortisone. In other instances, it may respond well to at-home treatments, such as over-the-counter (OTC) oral antihistamines.
A healthcare professional can help you decide the best treatment for you.
Birth control rashes can be managed and cured, either with OTC or prescription treatment.
Even if you can’t identify the trigger, experimenting with different birth control methods may be all it takes to stop the rash for good.
If you get a rash from your birth control, it may be best to change birth control methods. There are many types to choose from. Eliminating the allergen is the best way to reduce this uncomfortable side effect.
Birth control methods, such as condoms and contraceptive pills, can cause rashes.
The estrogen and progestin in hormonal birth control may cause rashes to occur in some people.
The latex in condoms, inactive ingredients in birth control pills, and the chemicals in spermicide may all cause a rash to occur in some people as well.
Getting rid of the rash usually requires stopping the birth control method that caused it. Luckily, there’s a wide range of birth control options to choose from.
Allergy testing, and experimenting with the various types of birth control methods available, are good ways to stop birth control rashes from occurring.