Most people suffer from acne at least once in their lives but only a small fraction of them get cystic acne.
As far as skin concerns go, cystic acne is truly one of the worst possible conditions a person can suffer from. Compared to regular acne, cystic acne is especially stubborn and not to mention extremely painful.
Dermatologists have long focused on how important it is to nip the early signs of problematic cystic acne in the bud by taking precautions against it. But, we know that is not always possible.
Once cystic acne has started developing, it's very hard to make your skin go back to being what it was. Even seemingly healthy and oil-free skin can develop cystic acne with time as our bodies undergo changes.
The thing about cystic acne is that no one is truly safe from it but it's also true that not everyone gets it.
We'll be discussing cystic acne and all the possible treatments you can take to get rid of them in an ideal way.
Table of Contents:
- What is Cystic Acne?
- Identifying Cystic Acne
- Difference Between an Acne Cyst and Acne Nodule
- Why Cystic Acne is caused
- Oil buildup
- Areas Vulnerable to Cystic Acne
- Cystic Acne Prevention Measures
- How to Manage Cystic Acne
- Does Cystic Acne Go Away on Its Own?
- Cystic Acne Complications
What is Cystic Acne?
Cystic acne is a severe form of acne. It is stubborn, inflammatory and can cause immense pain upon the slightest touch.
We know that acne is caused when oil buildup takes place under the skin. Cystic acne is the same, the only difference being that it involves bacterial inflammation.
When bacteria get inside the oil-clogged skin pores, they react and cause painful swellings - the result is cystic acne.
Also, cystic acne stems from a point bit deeper in the skin than regular acne. They usually occur only once, but there's a higher chance of them coming back again if not treated properly.
If you think you can wait out cystic acne with patience, think again.
Identifying Cystic Acne
This type of acne is characterized by red inflamed soft and tender cysts that are filled with pus.
They usually occur in huge groups and can be seen in the form of breakouts in a particular area.
You can identify if you have cystic acne on your own. The target area should be reddish-pink with a white or yellow head that contains the pus.
Cystic acne vary in size, a single acne can even be as large and spread out as a fingernail.
In case you're still facing trouble identifying whether what you have is cystic acne or not, you could always get diagnosed by a dermatologist.
Difference Between an Acne Cyst and Acne Nodule
Though both are caused due to acne deep under the skin's surface, there is an important difference between the two.
Acne cysts, as discussed above, are soft and filled with pus.
On the other hand, acne nodules harden over time and their content remains under the skin. The latter also doesn't have distinguishable pus-filled heads like cysts.
Why Cystic Acne is caused
Though a simple clogging of pores is enough to begin the inflammation, the root causes may be different. Identifying the unique causes of a person's cystic acne can make the treatment that much easier whether it be at home or from a dermatologist.
It can help decide the target area and the ideal treatment for the same.
So, cystic acne may be caused due to a single or a combination of the below-mentioned reasons.
It is a well-known fact that the hormonal changes brought along by puberty are responsible for acne among many teenagers.
These hormonal changes also occur every month due to a woman's menstrual cycle and even during menopause and pregnancy.
Therefore, cystic acne is not just limited to teens.
Our sebaceous glands produce an oil known as sebum. It plays an important role in the proper functioning and nourishment of the skin but a heavy buildup of the same can clog pores.
If left clogged for too long, it turns into blackheads and whiteheads. However, if bacteria enter the equation, the result is usually cystic acne.
Family history plays an important role in identifying the reason for your cystic acne. If your parent suffered from the condition, there is a high chance of your getting them.
Our genetic makeup decides our vulnerability to a lot of diseases.
Areas Vulnerable to Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is not limited to the face.
Painful inflamed cysts can also form on:
- the neck,
- under the chin,
- the back,
- and even the butt.
Though they're most common on the face, cystic acne can also occur on other body parts. Depending on the area of inflammation, the treatment may also slightly vary.
Cystic Acne Prevention Measures
If you don't have cystic acne, it is better to stay safe and take precautions against them. Developing a skincare routine is the healthiest and easiest way to do so along with ensuring a proper diet.
Here's a simple everyday routine with the best products that can help you prevent cystic acne and other minor skin problems:
Start with a gentle skin cleanser. It is a common misconception that since acne is caused by oil, the best plan of action is to strip the skin of its natural oils.
This is not true.
The oils that your skin produces are being produced for a reason. The oil-stripping cleansers target only the oil on the skin's surface and not the oil trapped underneath the skin.
So, you're left with dry skin that often causes the cysts to become crusty and even more painful.
The best way is to use a gentle cleanser and a soft foaming brush, since vigorous scrubbing with hands may easily irritate the area. Using a natural-based face wash like WOW Skin Science’s Aloe Vera Face Wash, which cleans the skin gently. Also, its antibacterial properties are good for tackling cysts.
Again, people with acne tend to ignore the benefits of moisturizing because they think it will add to the problem.
A good oil-free and water-based moisturizer is what your acne-riddled skin needs to maintain its hydration. It also acts as an additional barrier against any more bacteria attacking your pores.
A light non-greasy moisturizer can work like magic for acne-prone skin.
WOW’s Coconut Perfecting cream contains (surprise!) coconut oil! And, coconut oil is known for its antibacterial properties and its ability to nourish. The moisturizer soothes inflammation and hydrates the skin without adding to the oil problem.
Hyaluronic acid has also been a long-time favorite of dermatologists and can prove to be very useful in maintaining healthy skin. Any retinol or hyaluronic acid-based gel or moisturizer should keep acne away.
Over the counter treatments like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can be very helpful in preventing acne. They break down the oils present in the skin and even unclog pores.
Regular use of these products prevents any long-term oil buildup which is a excellent in the battle against conditions like cystic acne.
If you have a family history of cystic acne, it is better to start using these products before you notice any signs of this problem.
How to Manage Cystic Acne
If you're suffering from cystic acne, the best course of action is to make lifestyle changes. These changes dictate how your skin behaves. For example-
Your diet plays an important role in maintaining your physical health. What you eat is always reflected on your skin.
It is thought that making tangible changes in your dietary habits like cutting down sugar can keep acne from spreading.
Though greasy foods are not known to cause cystic acne, adopting a healthy lifestyle is known to help ease the inflammation.
If you notice that certain foods trigger the problem, it is better to stop their consumption. Then, take notice of how your skin reacts to exclusion of these foods.
As we discussed, a healthy and simple skincare routine is a must, especially when dealing with cystic acne. This is important to start the treatment as soon as possible, and to make sure that you're not left with long-term scars.
Do Not Pop
As tempting as it may sound, we know the excruciating pain that comes with popping pimples. With cystic acne, the pain seems to reverberate throughout the entire problem area.
Popping the cysts is also sure to leave deep scars that cannot be treated without extreme cosmetic procedures. Sometimes the scars also form discoloration or hyper pigmentation around the area, giving it an even deeper look.
Do Not Scrub
Exfoliation is generally a healthy skincare exercise but it may be counterproductive when done on acne-prone skin.
Exercise Proper Hygiene
Your hygiene can be a deciding factor in how often your acne flares up. Try to wash your face twice a day and especially before going to bed.
Our scalps produce a lot of sebum and this can affect the skin on our face. Make sure that your hair isn't oily by shampooing it regularly.
Also, try to keep your hair tied up and away from the face. This prevents any oil buildup due to oils from the scalp.
Oily scalp contributes to many skin problems and cystic acne is one of them. Your scalp health matters for your facial skin and conditioning is one of the best ways to care for it.
Though makeup usually isn't known to cause cystic acne, prevailing acne may get irritated due to the chemicals in the makeup.
Heavy makeup also clogs pores and is difficult to clean off. If you really need makeup, try not to use heavier cosmetics like foundations or concealers and try to avoid excessively sensitive areas.
On days you did apply makeup, clean thoroughly but don't be rough. Also, remember to not sleep with makeup on. Micellar water is a great way of removing makeup without irritating the skin. Follow up the micellar with your regular cleanser and moisturizer and you'll be ready to sleep.
Getting in Touch With a Dermatologist
It is never too late to visit the doctor's office when you're suffering from a problem. Cystic acne is not simple acne and having a trusted dermatologist to guide you through the treatment can also be very helpful.
Depending on the condition of your acne, the dermatologist may prescribe you some oral medication or topical gels. These medications are usually antibiotics and help eradicate the underlying cause for this acne, that is - bacteria.
The doctor may also give you some other medicine to soothe the inflammation and ease the pain around the area.
Does Cystic Acne Go Away on Its Own?
With time, every type of acne will go away. However, this may take years and even decades of your life. Waiting for cystic acne to go away by itself is just not worth the pain it will cause you.
Plus, if acne goes away without a preventive treatment for scars, the scarring caused as a result may last much longer than the acne ever did. As if acne weren't enough, the scars are also stubborn and persist. They can only be treated through cosmetic procedures.
Cystic Acne Complications
If irritated or left untreated, cystic acne may lead to permanent scarring of the skin. The resulting scars are deep and discolored.
They can also not be removed with simple regimens and need specialized treatment that can cost a pretty penny.
In certain cases, the scars may lighten by themselves in a few years but this is a risk that one should not take.
We know that cystic acne is not easy to deal with. However, it is also not an impossible problem. With targeted treatment, even cystic acne can be dealt within a matter of months.
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