Cyproterone Acetate (Androcur) is an Androgen Inhibitor medication. These medications block the effect of androgen (male) hormones that can contribute to acne symptoms in some individuals. Cyproterone is occasionally used for the treatment of acne, primarily in women.
Cyproterone is not a common treatment for acne, but some patients have reported positive results with this medication. Several clinical research studies have also found that Cyproterone can be an effective treatment for acne in women. Cyproterone is primarily available in oral formulations, but topical versions of this medication do exist. Cyproterone is not available in all countries (eg. United States).
Androgen hormones stimulate the growth and activity of the sebaceous glands, and production of sebum, contributing to the pathogenesis of acne. Elevated levels of androgen hormones trigger acne symptoms during puberty. Studies of adult females with acne have shown that many of these women have abnormally high levels of androgen hormones in their blood. Cyproterone may help improve acne symptoms by reducing the effect of elevated androgen levels.
Cyproterone is less commonly used than Spironolactone (a different androgen inhibitor) because Spironolactone tends to have fewer side effects. However, the majority of female acne patients that use either Spironolactone or Cyproterone report significant improvement in their acne symptoms.
Cyproterone has a wider range of potential side-effects than Spironolactone, owing to a broader spectrum of activity on the hormonal system. Because Cyproterone blocks the action of androgen hormones on the body, it can have feminizing effects on males who use this medication. These effects are much more significant when this medication is used orally, as opposed to topical use.
One of the most serious potential side effects of Cyproterone use is liver toxicity. Patients undergoing treatment with Cyproterone are often required to take regular blood tests to monitor changes in liver enzymes. Cyproterone treatment may also have adverse effects on metabolic function and the body’s ability to maintain a proper salt balance. These side effects tend to be dose dependent, and severe side effects occur much more often at high dosage levels. Allergic reactions are also possible with this medication. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include: Skin rashes, joint pain, fever and anaphylaxis.
Because Cyproterone disrupts normal hormone balance, it is not used in women who are pregnant or expect to become pregnant.