Individuals suffering from cystic acne want to know what causes their breakouts and how they can prevent them.
Causes can vary from washing too often to eating the wrong foods. Some cleansers contain ingredients that can cause cystic acne breakouts or worsen existing lesions. If you have allergies to foods or a condition that impairs your digestive process, changing your diet can potentially remove the cause of your cystic acne.
Many people regard sunshine as healthy, which it can be if you’re careful. Too much sunshine damages your skin, and damaged skin is an easy prey for acne. The one cause of cystic acne that is completely beyond your control is genetics.
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Cystic Acne is a Bacterial Infection
Our bodies play host to numerous bacteria, most of which are essential to our wellbeing. One bacterium that isn’t beneficial is Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes, which is the source of acne. It’s a type of bacterium that grows fastest when it isn’t exposed to air, so it loves getting into clogged pores.
Your pores can become clogged from a variety of substances. Most often the culprits are dead skin cells and skin oil. It’s an ideal environment for P. acnes because they’re inside the pore and sealed off from outside air. Not only that, skin oil is their favorite food.
When an infection starts, you may feel some irritation due to the bacteria’s digestive activity. The real trouble starts when your immune system sends out infection-fighting white blood cells. The bacteria then generate chemicals that trick the blood cells into dissolving the sides of the pore. That allows the bacteria to spread, and you soon have a major infection.
If the infection is near the surface of your skin, it can break through and you have a nasty pimple. If the infection is deep in the pore or hair follicle, your body tries to encapsulate it by growing a sac around it. That sac is called a cyst, and you have cystic acne. The cyst is usually filled with pus, so it feels like a soft lump under your skin.
Why Do I Have Cystic Acne?
The obvious cause of cystic acne is clogged pores, but the actual cause is the material clogging the pores. Traditional advice has been to keep your skin very clean, and that’s still a good recommendation. You must be careful, however, of what you use as a cleanser. Avoid products that contain isopropyl alcohol. They may feel good when you use them, but as the alcohol dries your skin, it also destroys delicate cells. To protect itself, your skin produces additional oil, which can clog your pores even more, and you’re caught in a vicious cycle.
Hormonal changes can lead to increased oil accumulating in pores. That’s one of the main reasons teenagers have so much trouble with acne, but adult women also undergo changes in their hormones. As well as the normal changes due to menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, women may also experience errant hormonal activity due to a disease called polycystic ovary syndrome.
Each pore extends to the base of a follicle that contains an oil gland and a strand of hair. The oil gland produces a natural oil, or sebum, that keeps your skin soft and supple.
Too much sebum leads to the pore becoming blocked, trapping dirt, bacteria, and dead cells. The blockage, or plug, is a comedone. If the top of the comedone is white, it’s a whitehead; if dark, it’s a blackhead.
If an infection develops, it’s acne.
Cystic acne seems to affect more than one generation of family members, so if your parents suffered from it, you may also. The best advice is to consult a skin specialist as early as you can to learn what you can do to minimize breakouts.
If you live in a high humidity environment or sweat excessively from your activities, you’ll need to wear loose clothing and rinse the sweat or dirt off frequently. There’s still a lot of controversy as to whether certain foods do or do not cause or worsen cystic acne. You would do well to keep a detailed journal of what you eat to determine if a particular food triggers your breakouts.
Some people believe that the location of a lesion on your face is a clue to a problem somewhere else.
Cystic acne has many causes. Something that triggers a breakout in you may not affect someone else, and vice-versa.
Cystic acne triggers include:
- Medications for other conditions. Your doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives or lower your dosage.
- Cosmetics or skin care products that are oily. Switch to products that are non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic.
- Dehydration. Drink plenty of water to clean your body from the inside out and keep your skin healthy.
Try to purchase products that are made with pure and natural ingredients.
Cystic Acne on Cheeks
Cystic acne prefers your face. Your face is exposed to all the pollution and toxins that are in the air. Many individuals touch their face dozens of times a day, unaware that they are doing so. Any bacteria, oil, or dirt on their hands is transferred to their face.
More skin care products are applied to facial skin than in other areas. It’s not unusual for women to neglect to wash off makeup before going to bed, allowing it all night to clog their pores.
Cystic acne should never be squeezed or picked at, but it’s hard to resist at least touching a lesion on your face. Doing so causes the bacteria to spread.Non-comedogenic products are free of ingredients that clog pores.
Cystic Acne on Back
Your back is often exposed to the sun without the benefit of sunscreen. The UV radiation in sunshine damages skin, and damaged skin easily develops conditions such as cystic acne. If you’re doing physical labor or engaging in exercise that causes you to sweat, you’re at risk for skin problems unless you wash the sweat and any debris off immediately.
The pores in your back are also larger than other pores, which allows them to become easily clogged, especially when you aren’t able to wash your back well enough to remove all the dead skin and oil. Sports gear and backpacks that fit tightly can rub against the skin on your back. Any kind of irritation to your skin is a potential home for acne.
Why Do Adults Have Cystic Acne?
Many teens are susceptible to all kinds of acne. Some escape it, and that’s because their young skin is growing so fast that the pores don’t get a chance to become clogged. That changes with adulthood. Skin growth begins slowing and dead skin cells start accumulating in the pores. The new skin closes over the pores and the stage is set for cystic acne.
Youngsters aren’t immune to digestive problems, but adults are more likely to have the gut bacteria that cause conditions such as ulcers. Research has shown a connection between illnesses that impair the digestive process and cystic acne. You may find that treatment for any underlying problems in your gut or intestines will clear up your skin.
Adults are potentially exposed to more pollutants in the workplace. They may also be handling toxic substances, all of which can accumulate on their skin.
Signs and Symptoms
A skin specialist can usually diagnose cystic acne just by looking at you. They can often rule out other skin conditions by observing how many lesions you have.
You’ll notice a potential breakout when:
- Your skin reddens in a particular spot.
- You might have a lot of whiteheads or blackheads.
- You feel small bumps developing. These are papules, and they’re usually red and tender.
- Pus accumulates at the top of the papules. You now have pustules.
- Painful lumps form under your skin. These are cysts and you have cystic acne.
If the lumps become even more painful and feel hard, your infection has escalated to nodulocystic acne, which is the severest form of acne.
To best know how to prevent cystic acne breakouts, you’ll need to determine the potential causes. If you’re a smoker, you’re not only weakening your immune system, you’re polluting your skin with tobacco. It all settles in the pores of your skin.
Excessive stress or being overweight creates hormonal imbalances that can trigger a breakout. Another trigger for some individuals is consuming alcohol.
While it’s critical that you keep your skin clean and remove excessive oil, you may be cleaning too often or using harsh cleansers. If your skin gets too dry, there’ll be even more dead cells to clog your pores. It’s important to always pat your skin dry, rather than rub it, especially if you already have a breakout. If you exfoliate, do so gently to avoid damaging your skin.
Some individuals have discovered that using heat packs or soaks can prevent their cystic acne breakouts. Others rely on a cystic acne home remedy for relief.
It’s important to avoid sunlight as much as you can. If you have to be outside, use sunscreen or sunblock on all exposed skin.
Do Certain Foods Cause Cystic Acne?
You may have food allergies or food intolerances. To start with, you’ll want to avoid any foods that cause your skin to become more oily or greasy. If you eat something that makes you itchy, avoid it. The most common allergens are dairy, eggs, fish or shellfish, grains, and nuts. If your system rebels against any of these, stop consuming them.
Individuals with gluten intolerance have been able to reduce their cystic acne outbreaks when they switch to a gluten-free diet. The glycemic index is a measure of how certain carbohydrates increase your blood sugar. Individuals who have modified their diets so they are eating foods that are low on the glycemic index have seen an improvement in their cystic acne.
Finding the Cause of Your Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is personal. It will take experimentation to determine what causes your breakouts, why they occur on particular parts of your body, and how you can prevent them.
You may need to change skin care products, modify your diet, or make certain lifestyle changes.