What is cystic acne?
Cystic Acne is one of the most severe forms of acne or a big pimple on face which appears when a cyst forms beneath the skin as a result of clogged pores. Cystic acne can often be seen as pus-filled bumps under the skin.
How to identify cystic acne?
Cystic Acne often appears as a big pimple on face or is larger than other forms of acne and tends to form beneath the skin’s surface. Some characteristic symptoms to identify cystic acne are-
Where does cystic acne occur?
- Formation of large cysts that are pus-filled.
- Painful bumps which seem to be under the skin.
- Pus-filled lumps under the skin.
Although these big pimples typically occurs on the face, it’s possible to develop cystic acne in other regions such as the chest, back, arms or neck. Cystic acne is common in areas with active sebaceous glands. Cystic acne also has a tendency to reappear in the same areas. It may even spread if a cyst bursts causing infection to spread.
Causes of cystic acne
The pores in the skin can get clogged due to sebum, dead skin cells or bacteria. As a result of this, the middle layer of the skin called dermis gets inflamed resulting in pus-filled painful bumps under the skin called cystic acne. Some factors which can increase your likelihood of developing cystic acne are-
Does cystic acne cause scarring?
Age- Younger people tend to have more active sebaceous glands this means that as you get older, your skin becomes less oily. This makes younger people more prone to developing cystic acne.
Hormonal changes- A surge in the levels of certain hormones can also trigger excess sebum production. This is why pregnancy, menstruation and other bodily changes which can cause an imbalance of the hormones increase your likelihood of having cystic acne.
Genetics- Cystic acne, like most other forms of acne, tends to run in families. If your parents, siblings or other closer relatives suffered from cystic acne, it’s most likely that you’ll have it too.
Stress- Stress doesn’t help the skin at all. Not only does it cause excessive oiliness which can increase your risk of developing acne, it can make the skin appear dull and lacklustre.
Cystic acne has the highest chances of scarring in comparison to other forms of acne. Picking or popping the cysts increases your likelihood of developing a scar which may even be permanent. Because the likelihood of scarring is high, it’s important to start treatment to get rid of scarring as soon as possible. Once your acne is healed, you can choose to opt for ingredients like AHAs, Alpha Arbutin
and Niacinamide to get rid of mild scarring, but often due to severity, professional treatments like chemical peels, laser resurfacing and dermabrasion are required to diminish scarring from cystic acne.
Oral treatments for cystic acne
Isotretinoin- It’s a derivative of Vitamin A that’s taken as a tablet every day. It’s considered to be one of the most effective treatments for cystic acne with most people noticing an improvement in just about 4-6 months.
Contraceptives- Hormonal imbalance can cause a surge in sebum production. Oral contraceptives are used as a method to regulate hormone levels and treat cystic acne in women.
Topical treatments for cystic acne
Antibiotics- Antibiotics are prescribed in case you suffer from cystic acne covering large areas. These work by getting rid of the bacteria which may be responsible for acne.
Spironolactone- This is another medication, taken orally to manage high levels of androgen which could be the cause for cystic acne. Spironolactone is also typically used to treat cystic acne for women.
Retinoids- These are also derivatives of Vitamin A which work by unclogging the pores when applied to the affected area. Adapalene is a commonly anti-acne treatment that’s a retinoid, but it may not be as effective in treating cystic acne. As cystic acne is considered to be a severe form of acne, prescription-strength retinoids may be required to treat it.
Benzoyl Peroxide– Benzoyl Peroxide helps get rid of acne by working against any acne-causing bacteria. Unlike antibiotics, bacteria does not easily form resistance against benzoyl peroxide.
How to prevent cystic acne?
Azelaic Acid- It has antibacterial and exfoliating properties which make it an effective treatment in getting rid of cystic acne.
Steroids- In severe cases, a corticosteroid is injected into the affected area which works by reducing inflammation and reducing the appearance of the cyst.
- Use skincare and makeup products with non-comedogenic ingredients to prevent clogged pores.
- Even though it may seem difficult considering the lifestyle today, try to relax and avoid taking unnecessary stress. Stress can result in hormonal changes and a surge in sebum production which is a major culprit behind acne.
Do’s and don’ts for cystic acne
- Gently exfoliate your skin regularly to avoid getting bacteria trapped under your skin and prevent a build-up of dead skin cells. You can use serums like the Deconstruct Pore Control Serum or the Deconstruct Exfoliating Serum which contain AHAs and BHAs among other ingredients that can gently exfoliate the skin while managing other skin problems as well.
Do use OTC-treatments for cystic acne- Untreated cystic acne could get worse and even result in serious scarring which is why it’s essential to treat it at its earliest. Consider using OTC-treatment as your first line of defence against cystic acne. Most of these work by exfoliating the skin to free any trapped bacteria or dead skin cells. Some OTC treatments like Benzoyl Peroxide and Azelaic acid can even get rid of the acne-causing bacteria without the risk of bacterial resistance.
Don’t pick on your cysts- If you’re thinking of popping your cysts or picking on them to get rid of them faster, think again. Doing so can result in serious scarring and damage to the skin. Just let your skin be and allow your acne to heal properly.
Do wash your face and keep your skin clean- Oily or dirty skin can increase the chances of your pores getting clogged which can cause your acne to aggravate. It’s important to keep your skin clean and oil-free, so use a gentle face wash to cleanse your face twice a day.
Don’t touch your face unnecessarily- Touching the skin frequently can lead to unnecessary transfer of bacteria which can worsen the symptoms of your acne. Avoid touching your face and keep your skin clean. Also, make sure to wash your hands before touching your face while applying any topical treatments for acne.
Do use oil-free and non-comedogenic skincare- Using oil-based makeup or skincare or ones that consist of comedogenic ingredients can also create a risk for clogged pores. These can also be too heavy on skin suffering from acne. Instead, let your skin breathe and use gentle products to avoid clogged pores.
Don’t sleep with your makeup on- Always remember to remove your makeup before going to bed to avoid having your pores clogged.
Considered to be one of the most severe forms of acne, cystic acne can be quite challenging to deal with. Cystic Acne isn’t like other forms of acne, so don’t wait around for it to resolve on its own. It’s a good idea to seek professional help and start appropriate medication for cystic acne as soon as possible. Although it may require a lot of patience, with proper care and the right treatment it’s possible to manage cystic acne. Keep in mind that cystic acne can reappear so it’s essential to follow precautions to keep cystic acne away for good.
- Does cystic acne ever go away?
Cystic can improve with age, but it’s important to seek professional help and start treatment as the cysts do not go away on their own and have the potential to worsen if left untreated.
- How to prevent scarring cystic acne?
Although there isn’t a sure shot way to prevent scarring from cystic acne, the best you could do is leave your skin alone and avoid picking on the cysts which could result in serious scarring that may be permanent. You can consider starting treatments for scarring as soon as your acne heals.
- Is salicylic acid good for cystic acne?
Salicylic Acid isn’t considered to be as effective in getting rid of cystic acne. It works best on other forms of acne including papules, pustules and non-inflammatory acne. Instead you could opt for other ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide, Retinoids or Azelaic Acid to treat cystic acne.