Can Getting An IUD Make Your Acne Worse? Here's What To Know

Blackheads on your nose, red bumps on your chin, whiteheads on your cheek — no, this isn't a flashback to middle school. Adults can get acne, too, especially women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. Genetics, stress, and pore-clogging products are possible culprits, but for many women, hormones are to blame.

You've likely heard of — or even tried — using birth control to treat hormonal acne. The hormones in many prescription contraceptive pills lower the amount of oil-producing androgens in the body, resulting in clearer skin. However, some types of birth control might make acne worse or trigger breakouts in those who never dealt with them before.

IUDs, or intrauterine devices, might be one example. In a 2020 Facebook video, Hailey Bieber — yep, the glazed donut skincare pioneer herself — revealed that she had struggled with severe acne after getting an IUD. But can the birth control method really mess up your skin? Here's what the experts say.

IUDs can cause acne flare-ups in some people

You might be thinking of ditching the pill for an IUD, or maybe you've never been on birth control and want to give long-term contraceptives a try. While there are several advantages of getting an IUD, know that glowing skin may not be one of them.

"If a woman is prone to hormonal acne, then a hormonal IUD is likely to cause her acne to flare," Dr. Susan Bard, a dermatologist, told PopSugar. If you get hormonal breakouts around the time of your period, for example, you may notice more spots popping up after getting an IUD.

Switching birth control prescriptions can also influence your skin. Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB/GYN and spokesperson for Cystex, explained to Shape, "If a patient was on oral contraception with both estrogen and progestin and they switch to a [hormonal] IUD [with levonorgestrel], they may notice their skin is worse because the estrogen in the pill [was helping] to bind testosterone and prevent acne." In other words, just because you had pimple-free skin with the pill doesn't mean you will with an IUD, given their different hormonal formulas.

How to deal with IUD-related acne

If you decide to get an IUD and start to notice new-onset acne, don't panic. First, be sure that your breakouts are actually from the IUD. Visit your doctor, or look out for a few giveaways that your spots are IUD-related. "Acne caused by IUDs tends to be located around the chin and jaw area," dermatologist Dendy Engelman shared with Byrdie. Additionally, hormonal acne, like that triggered by IUDs, may come in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, or cysts, and they're often accompanied by inflammation and oiliness.

Spots caused by hormonal IUDs may go away after a few months, as Dr. Omnia M. Samra-Latif Estafan, an OB/GYN, told Well+Good. However, if you start to notice severe breakouts are interfering with your daily life, talk to your doctor. They may suggest another prescription to get your acne under control or offer to remove your IUD if needed. If you had clear skin before going on hormonal birth control — whether the pill or an IUD — a non-hormonal copper IUD may also be a skin-friendly swap. And as always, continue following a regular skincare routine and keep your hands off your face, no matter how tempting it may be to pick and pop.