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Cystic Acne: The Causes and How to Get Rid Of It

Get Rid of Cystic Acne 

In recent years, cystic acne has become more and more prevalent, even among those without skin conditions like rosacea or sensitive skin. What exactly causes this type of acne, and how can you get rid of it? This article provides useful information on the causes of cystic acne, its symptoms, and how to get rid of it once and for all.

Cystic Acne: The Causes and How to Get Rid Of It
cystic acne

What Is Cystic Acne?

A cystic acne is a severe form of the more common type. It can be very painful or even leave you feeling like you want to cut your face off. They form in large, pus-filled pimples that may be filled with oil.

Some forms can make them large enough for small cysts to grow on top, too. Though this may seem unmanageable, there are treatments available today that are both strong and fast acting for clearing your skin up quickly. 

The Different Types of Cystic Acne

Different types of cystic acne can be caused by a variety of inflammatory factors. These are typically the result of trauma or the increased amount and difficulty expulsion due to changes in the body's hormonal levels. 

Occurs themselves will usually look like nodules, cysts, follicular swellings, or pimples. They may be under the skin, just below the surface, or in deeper layers where they do not have any obvious coverings or walls. Cystic acne is often associated with back and chest areas as well as your neck area.

Treatments for cystic acne include antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin cream, erythromycin lotion, isotretinoin (isotrex), or Isotane gel.

Causes of Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is a recurring acne condition that can cause large, deep, and painful pimples. Cystic acne is characterized by the presence of deep, inflamed pimples that are often filled with pus. Cystic acne is oftentimes difficult to treat and may require the use of prescription medications. Cystic acne can be caused by several factors, including :

  1. Certain medications, like isotretinoin, can cause cystic acne by altering the natural growth of hair follicles on the skin surface.
  2. Birth control pills can worsen a person's skin condition or cause cystic acne by changing hormone levels.
  3. A hormonal imbalance may lead to cystic acne caused by excessive production of androgens (male hormones).
  4. Hormones released during puberty may trigger acne flare-ups in some people as well as make existing pimples worse.
  5. In rare cases, genetics could be an underlying cause for a person developing this type of skin condition; in these cases, there's typically no way to prevent it from occurring. 

How Can I Prevent Getting Cystic Acne?

Cystic acne has several different causes, but they all have the same treatment plan. Depending on your skin type, some strategies may work better than others. Here are the top recommendations for prevention strategies:

  • Clean your face twice a day with a cleanser and warm water.
  • Use a moisturizer after you dry off from washing. 
  • Use non-comedogenic makeup (i.e., does not contain oils or other ingredients that will clog pores).
  • Do not touch your face unnecessarily during the day.
  • Exfoliate once a week using something gentle like jojoba beads.
  • Eat a healthy diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Avoid touching your hair if it is greasy or oily.
  • Stay out of direct sunlight during peak hours (10 am to 4 pm). 
  • If you're going to exercise, make sure your sweat doesn't come in contact with your face.
  • And lastly, don't pick at zits.

Natural Remedies For Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is a common skin condition that manifests as inflamed, infected bumps under the surface of the skin. Cysts are often very painful and can last anywhere from a few weeks to many months. They can be especially frustrating because they're difficult to get rid of. There are various natural remedies for cystic acne, so you won't have to resort to antibiotics or harsh creams that may cause more side effects than benefits.

  1. Drinking water (10-12 glasses per day) will help flush out your system. 
  2.  Supplementing with probiotics can also help by improving your gut health. A healthy gut will result in a healthier immune system, making you less susceptible to breakouts caused by inflammatory foods like gluten or dairy products. Taking probiotics supplements daily will improve your gut health even further. 
  3. Avoid greasy foods at all costs, such as french fries, fried chicken, and other fast food options. Greasy food can lead to inflammation of pores on the face which causes pimples or whiteheads to form easily.
Use an exfoliating scrub once a week at least and avoid touching your face during meal times! If these tips don't work, talk to your doctor about oral contraceptives.

Which Medications Are Best for Treating Cystic Acne?

Typically the medications you are prescribed for cystic acne are going to be taken orally in pill form. The more severe the cysts, the more potent (or harsh) the medication will be. Pills typically range from:

  • Retinoids (such as Accutane).
  • Birth Control pills.
  • Spironolactone.
  • Antibiotics.
Depending on your doctor's orders, these pills may only need to be taken once a day at night, or up to twice a day depending on severity.

If you find that even after a few weeks of taking these oral medications, your cysts are not getting any better it may mean that either your current medication is not strong enough for you or there may be other contributing factors causing them such as hormonal issues. 

One way to get rid of cystic acne is by using an antibiotic gel over the area two times a day which can help reduce inflammation.

Another option would be isotretinoin, which is a prescription-only treatment but can work wonders for clearing up stubborn cysts without having to resort to stronger treatments like Accutane.

Should I Use Products with Salicylic Acid to Treat My Acne?

The way you treat your acne will depend on the type of acne you have. If you have cystic acne, salicylic acid is often used as a first-line treatment for comedonal acne, or acne with blackheads. Salicylic acid removes oils from clogged pores that can cause cysts and other types of breakouts.

However, using products with salicylic acid can increase your risk of developing thinning skin over time. If this side effect worries you, consult a dermatologist before using these products on your skin to find out if they're appropriate for you.

External Factors That Cause Breakouts

Factors that can cause breakouts to include your hormones, medical conditions, genes, excessive stress levels, an unhealthy diet with high levels of sugar, fried foods, processed foods, alcohol consumption, or lack thereof.

Sometimes people experience a change in their skin after using certain types of makeup or skincare products. Using the wrong type or even the wrong strength for your skin can cause flare-ups on existing acne as well as create new breakouts.

If you have acne that is being caused by an outside factor (not just by genetics), this is something that you'll want to address to get rid of it. These factors are things that you should talk to your doctor about if they're affecting your health negatively. Your doctor will be able to recommend treatments based on what they find out from talking with you.

There are also many over-the-counter treatments available at drugstores, including prescription-strength treatments available through dermatologists if necessary.


Cystic acne can have many causes, some environmental (sunlight exposure) and others hormonal. To prevent or treat cystic acne, you may want to take measures to avoid exposure to the trigger factors. You should also visit your doctor if you suspect a more serious cause for your cystic acne.

In terms of prevention:

  • keep your skin protected from UV rays when possible and cover up with sunscreen if necessary.
  • Minimize your exposure to allergens by taking care not to touch your face with dirty hands, applying makeup too often, or rubbing your eyes too much. 
  • Wash your pillowcase frequently since some people experience flare-ups because of oils secreted by the scalp being spread around their face while they sleep.
  • Avoid using products that contain alcohol as it dries out the skin and makes acne worse.
  • When choosing an acne treatment, make sure it is labeled noncomedogenic which means it won't clog pores and make things worse.
  • Products containing benzoyl peroxide are typically well tolerated by most people's skin and can be found in lotions, creams, foams, pads, gels, or washes. 

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