Sometimes an individual’s skin will break out with terrible-looking lesions called cystic acne. Experts have come up with several explanations over the years, but often they don’t truly know what causes cystic acne in a particular individual. They do know that pores become clogged and infected when oil and skin debris accumulates.
Cystic acne treatments vary, with some lesions shrinking or disappearing with simple home remedies and others requiring extensive medical treatment. Severe cases of cystic acne can leave deep scars that can be permanent.
Table of Contents
- How Can I Heal Cystic Acne?
- What About Using Antibiotics?
- How Is Nodulocystic Acne Treated
- The Best Spot Treatments
- Finding the Best Cystic Acne Treatment
How Can I Heal Cystic Acne?
When you have a cystic acne breakout, your priority is generally to make the ugly lesions go away as quickly as possible. You can apply an ice cube or a very cold compress for a few seconds to quickly reduce the size and redness. The most important tip is to never try to pop cystic acne. It’s not the same as a normal pimple and trying to pop it only makes it worse.
There’s a variety of remedies available at your local pharmacy that can help you get rid of your cystic acne. Look for oil-free creams that contain benzoyl peroxide, cortisone, salicylic or alpha hydroxy acids, or sulfur. Many products will contain two or more of these ingredients to provide relief.
While you’re waiting for a product to reduce the inflammation, you can use makeup that has a light green tinge to disguise the lesion and make it less visible.
What They Do
- Benzoyl peroxide helps to kill bacteria, dry excess oil, and exfoliate dead skin cells.
- Salicylic acid helps keep pores unclogged.
- Alpha hydroxy acids reduce inflammation and stimulate the growth of healthy new skin cells.
- Sulfur absorbs excessive oil as well as helping to remove dead skin cells.
What Can I Do for Cystic Acne Pain?
Your skin is rich in nerves that can sense pain. That’s part of its protective function. Cystic acne infections live deep in the tissue beneath the outer layer of your skin, and they press against internal and external nerve cells. The lightest touch can send pain coursing through you.
If you just have one or two spots, you can put ice against them. That helps to reduce the inflammation and swelling that’s causing the pain. Other than that, you’ll probably have to rely on over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Although acetaminophen provides pain relief, it’s not as effective for inflammation.
If the over-the-counter remedies aren’t strong enough, you’ll need a prescription painkiller. However, if your acne is that painful, your doctor will probably prefer to prescribe something to get rid of the cystic acne itself.
Cystic acne doesn’t have a long-range permanent cure in most cases. However, there are a number of steps you can take to minimize how frequently your breakouts occur and how serious they are when they do occur.
- Eating more fruits and vegetables to help decrease inflammatory responses.
- Increasing your consumption of Vitamins A and E, by either eating foods rich in them or taking a quality supplement.
- Having your digestive health evaluated by a professional as many cases of acne can be traced to imbalances in your gut.
- Practicing stress reduction
- Avoiding alcohol, stopping smoking, and drinking more water.
Anything that will help to improve your overall health will help your body resist breakouts regardless of what causes your cystic acne.
What About Using Antibiotics?
When your cystic acne is too severe for, or doesn’t respond to, home remedies or OTC medications, you’ll need to consult a dermatologist. He or she will select the best cystic acne treatment for you from a variety of prescription-strength remedies. One of the choices may be an antibiotic.
Cystic acne is most often a bacterial infection. If you undergo a regimen of one or more antibiotics, you can potentially get your lesions under control enough that other remedies will be effective.
You may receive a high dosage to start with. After evaluating how an antibiotic is working, your doctor will probably start reducing the dosage for your safety.
Overnight Treatments for Cystic Acne
A variety of natural remedies has been used to get rid of cystic acne. Because they are usually gentle, many of them take days or weeks before they’re effective. Some individuals have discovered that organic apple cider vinegar works quickly for them. Simply add a few drops of the vinegar to a cotton ball and secure it to the affected spot. Leave on overnight. Remove the cotton ball the next morning and rinse with cool water. If you feel discomfort from the vinegar, you can dilute it with plain water, but the diluted solution will probably take longer to work.
If you prefer a medical cystic acne treatment, your doctor can inject cortisone directly into the affected area. Cortisone will quickly reduce inflammation and shrink any swelling.
Oral antibiotics are those you take by mouth to attack bacteria from within. Nearly all antibiotics make you photosensitive, which means you’ll sunburn easily. Since you need to be protecting your skin from sunlight anyway, most individuals don’t find this reason enough to avoid antibiotics that will reduce their acne breakouts.
The three most common oral antibiotics are:
All antibiotics have potential side effects which your doctor will discuss with you.
Antibiotics kill bacteria. Unfortunately, they don’t discriminate between harmful and beneficial bacteria and tend to kill all of them. Certain microbes are essential for keeping your body in good running order, so it’s important to consume a quality probiotic to replenish the good bacteria. Foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and dark chocolate are rich in probiotics. Many people rely on supplements to make sure they get adequate amounts of probiotics.
How Is Nodulocystic Acne Treated
A cyst is abnormal growth of cells that form a sac in or on your body to enclose an infection and keep it from spreading. Cysts feel somewhat like a soft painful lump under the skin. Nodules are painful hard lumps deep within the skin. Nodules form when a cyst ruptures and infects nearby tissue. If you have acne with cysts and nodules, you have nodulocystic acne, which is generally regarded as the worst kind of acne. Nodulocystic acne is also the hardest to treat and rarely, if ever, improves with home remedies. It requires medical treatment and even then can take a long time to heal. It also potentially leads to scarring more often than other acne.
Doctors have a variety of drugs to prescribe separately or in combination to treat nodulocystic acne. These include:
- Birth control pills (women only).
- Steroids injected into a lesion.
In general, these serve to reduce the amount of oil your skin produces, kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the growth of new skin. Each has potentially serious side effects and is usually prescribed as a last resort. In some cases, the doctor may surgically remove the nodule and cyst and drain the lesion.
The Best Spot Treatments
Cystic acne treatments are essentially the same for single spots as they are for multiple spots. Which you choose is generally a matter of preference and experimentation to discover what works best for you.
If you skin isn’t sensitive, you might try toothpaste. Simply apply a dot of toothpaste to the spot and let it dry for about 15 minutes. Rinse off. If you use toothpaste that contains fluoride, it may also help kill bacteria. Toothpaste dries your skin, so apply a moisturizer afterward.
A drop or two of castor oil dabbed on your acne spot and left on overnight has a gentle healing effect. Another natural remedy is aloe vera. Simply cut a leaf in half and apply the gel to your spot. It doesn’t need to be rinsed off.
Most pharmacies have a variety of medications formulated for treating spots, although any acne treatment will work.
High Reviews OTC Cystic Acne Medicine
There is no one-size-fits-all cystic acne treatment or medication. You’ll need to choose products that match your skin type and your preferences for how you care for your skin in general. It’s a good idea to start with the gentlest products you can purchase and use stronger formulations only as needed. You will probably have to experiment with several products before you discover the one that’s most effective for you. Since most products can dry your skin, you will probably also need to find a good oil-free moisturizer.
Products with high reviews from users include:
- Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control® Night Cleansing Pads – formulated with salicylic acid; 60 pads about $7.00; available in pharmacies, department stores, and online. Removes dead skin cells that can clog pores.
- Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash – made from a variety of ingredients including glycerin; 7 oz for less than $5.00; available in pharmacies, department stores, and online. Gently removes makeup without drying skin.
- De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment – sulfur formula with no artificial ingredients; 2.6 oz. for than $5.00; available in pharmacies, department stores, and online. Dries existing acne and help prevent new breakouts.
Anti-Cyst Treatment by Renée Rouleau
More than 25 years ago, esthetician Renee Rouleau began formulating skin care products based on nine unique skin types. She then developed her Anti-Cyst Treatment, which has proven to be exceptionally effective in healing cystic acne because it penetrates deep into the infected pores. Her formula is designed to be applied on acne spots nightly. Anti-Cyst Treatment by Renee Rouleau can also be applied as a preventive to areas that are prone to developing new outbreaks.
It’s important to keep your skin clean to prevent cystic acne breakouts, but it’s also important to avoid harsh cleansers. Look for a gentle cleanser that’s oil-free. Unless advised otherwise by a skin specialist, avoid scrubs. You can exfoliate with products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. You will need to apply a moisturizer to keep your skin soft and supple.
AHA/BHA Deep Pore Cleanser by Renee Rouleau is made for individuals battling cystic acne. It gently exfoliates as it cleans your skin. It’s non-drying and formulated to keep your skin clear and healthy.
I Need Solutions for My Cystic Acne
There are almost as many natural and home remedies as there are individuals who suffer from cystic acne. Every remedy works in slightly different ways to heal your skin. Experimentation will tell you which works best for you. The most recommended home remedies are pastes commonly made from household ingredients like honey, baking soda, egg whites, potatoes, or lemon juice.
Even if you intend to rely on natural remedies, it’s wise to consult a skin specialist when your cystic acne first appears. The more knowledge you have, the more ability you have to discover the best solution to minimize the frequency and severity of your breakouts.
Finding the Best Cystic Acne Treatment
You’ll probably have to experiment to find a solution to your cystic acne breakouts. You can start with healthy lifestyle practices so that your immune system stays strong. You need to get adequate amounts of sleep, follow a nutritious diet, and exercise regularly. Keep your skin as clean as you can without drying it out or irritating it.
Know your skin and learn when a breakout is in the early stages, so you can treat it immediately. Early treatment of a breakout can minimize its severity.