Why You May Want to Stop Taking Your Acne Medication Because of the Coronavirus

Getty Images / Ada Yokota

If you have persistent acne, chances are you’ve heard of spironolactone. And if you go to a dermatologist, chances are you’ve tried it or you’re currently using it. While it was originally developed to treat high blood pressure, spironolactone is now a dermatologist favourite for fighting hormonal breakouts. It blocks androgens like testosterone that are often responsible for those zits that seem invincible against every pimple cream in your medicine cabinet.

But if you’re taking spironolactone right now, you may want to stop for a surprising reason: it could make COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, worse. New York City dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD, is recommending her patients stop using it.

“The American Academy of Dermatology has not said to stop spironolactone. . . . But since we know that ACE inhibitors and spironolactone upregulate the number of receptors to possibly allow more virus to come into the cell based on this data, which is published . . . I would stop spironolactone,” Marmur says in a video posted on her Instagram. “It’s not medically necessary for acne. I’m only talking about my acne patients. I would stop the spironolactone until we know further. Get a telemedicine visit to get new medicine if you need it, but this is really important stuff.”

Note, this is just one dermatologist’s opinion, and as Marmur suggests, you should definitely call your doctor before making any changes to your medication. If you’re taking spironolactone for other reasons (like PCOS), you may need to gradually decrease your dose, so talking to your doctor is even more important. While this news is probably a total bummer, it could be an important precaution to take. And since stress breakouts are pretty inevitable right now, you won’t be the only one dabbing on a little extra concealer.

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