Why Cystic Acne Develops
Cystic acne is the most serious type of acne. It develops when cysts form deep underneath your skin. This can result from a combination of bacteria, oil, and dry skin cells that get trapped in your pores.
Although anyone can develop acne, cystic acne tends to occur in people with oily skin. Its also more common in teens, women, and older adults with hormonal imbalances.
Usually, cystic acne can improve with age. However, the stubborn and painful bumps wont go away on their own. If you suspect you have cystic acne, your dermatologist is your best line of defense. They can prescribe the medication necessary to help clear your skin.
Keep reading to learn how to identify cystic acne and navigate your treatment options.
Aside from being the most serious form of acne, cystic acne also tends to be the largest in size. Its also deeper within the skin. All other types appear to rest on top of the skins surface.
Cystic acne often looks like boils on the skin. Other identifying characteristics include:
- large pus-filled cyst
- tender or painful to the touch
Acne cysts are perhaps most noticeable on a persons face. But theyre also common on the chest, neck, back, and arms. Cystic acne may even develop on the shoulders and behind the ears.
Cystic Acne: Causes Diagnosis And Treatment
Compared to smaller pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads, cystic acne can be particularly tough to navigatethis severe kind of acne can be painful, and when left untreated, can cause visible scarring. Luckily, there are a number of treatments and methods for managing your cystic acneread below to find out more.
What Are Some Tips For Living With Acne
The best way to prevent and treat cystic acne is to take care of your skin. Try a few of these lifestyle changes to support your skincare journey:
- Wash your face regularly. Aim to wash your face once a day with a cleanser that isnt too harsh and drying, but that will remove excess dirt and oil. Be cautious of exfoliating scrubsthey can irritate cystic acne and make it worse. You might want to get into a routine of washing your face at night, so that you can avoid going to bed with makeup on.
- Resist the temptation to pick and pop. We know its tempting, but picking at your acne, even less severe pimples, blackheads, adn whiteheads, often leads to cystic buildups.
- Know what goes into your makeup. Look for makeup products that are labeled non comedogenic and oil-free. Theyre less likely to clog your pores.
- Wear sunscreen daily. If you are using a medication to treat your cystic acne, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun, and sunscreen is a must. Its also just good skincare. Try to go for an oil-free sunscreen that wont clog your pores.
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Drug Treatment With Isotretinoin
Isotretinoin is a prescription drug for the treatment of cystic acne, sold under a number of brand names in the United States, including Absorica, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, and Sotret.
Isotretinoin is a very effective treatment, but it has significant side effects and is dangerous to an unborn child. It is usually taken at a dosage of 1 milligram for every kilogram of body weight once daily for 16 to 20 weeks.
For cases of moderate acne, isotretinoin is not recommended until standard treatment with oral antibiotics has been tried and found to be ineffective. Isotretinoin is, however, recommended as a first-line treatment for severe acne.
Potential adverse effects associated with the use of isotretinoin include:
- eye and genital dryness
- liver damage
- elevated lipid levels
Isotretinoin is a teratogenic drug. This means that taking it during pregnancy at any dose, even for a short time, can lead to congenital deformities.
Isotretinoin may also lead to the loss of the pregnancy or premature birth and can cause the death of the newborn infant.
Women who can become pregnant are, therefore, required to use two methods of contraception for 1 month before, during, and at least a month after treatment with isotretinoin.
Testing for pregnancy is also required before starting isotretinoin and then every month until 1 month after stopping the drug.
The conditions for being prescribed the drug include producing two negative pregnancy tests.
Medications For Cystic Acne
Most cases of cystic acne are treated with medication. Your healthcare provider may prescribe one or several medications to reduce sebum levels, strip away dead skin cells or prevent acne causing bacteria from growing on your skin.
Common medications for cystic acne include:
Tretinoin. Tretinoin is a topical retinoid thats used to treat mild, moderate and severe acne. It works by encouraging your skin to shed dead skin cells that can cause acne breakouts.Tretinoin is one of several active ingredients in our Customized Rx Acne Cream, which has a tailored formula designed specifically for stubborn acne.
Isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is an oral medication thats used to treat moderate to severe cystic acne breakouts. It works by reducing sebum levels on your skin and stopping dead skin cells from building up inside your hair follicles. Your healthcare provider may prescribe isotretinoin if youve tried other treatments for cystic acne without success.Isotretinoin is effective at treating acne, but it can cause side effects. Its also unsafe for use during pregnancy. As such, youll need to use birth control and take precautions to minimize your risk of becoming pregnant while using this medication.
Even with medication, cystic acne can take several months to fully disappear. Be consistent and keep taking your medication, even if you dont see immediate results. Over time, you should see a significant reduction in acne lesions and improvements in your skin.
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What Is Nodular Acne
Nodular acne is a severe type of acne. It causes hard lumps or knots to develop deep under your skin. The nodules start below the surface and appear on the skin as red bumps. These bumps usually dont have a whitehead or blackhead at the center.
The nodules can last for weeks or even months. They are very painful. A bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes becomes trapped under your skin in these nodules, leading to infection and inflammation.
Nodular acne requires treatment from a dermatologist . Without treatment, this type of pimple can lead to permanent and severe scarring. You can reduce your risk of scarring by seeking treatment as early as possible.
Treatment Of Nodulocystic Acne
Doctors sometimes add oral antibiotics to a treatment plan. They may provide some temporary relief, but should only be used for a maximum of 3 months.
Isotretinoin – for more severe cases
For people with severe nodulocystic acne, doctors may prescribe the oral medication, isotretinoin, often known by its brand name, Accutane®, normally for 15 – 20 weeks. However, isotretinoin causes severe and sometimes lifelong side effects, as well as birth defects, so its use should be carefully considered alongside a trusted physician, and never as a first-line treatment.1-12
Hormonal treatments – females only
Cortisone shots – treating one lesion at a time
A shot of cortisone directly into a nodule or cyst can significantly help heal it and prevent scarring. Cortisone shots are effective and helpful, but should only be used on one, or a few, nodules or cysts at one time.
Cryotherapy – treating one lesion at at time
A doctor or nurse can apply extreme cold directly to a lesion to “kill” the lesion.
Oral Dapsone – a potential new option for cases where isotretinoin fails to help?
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How To Identify Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is a severe form of acne . It is formed deeper within the skin and is larger than any other form of acne. The cysts have a smooth surface and appear a bit shinier due to the tightness of the skin. Cystic acne usually appear on the face, neck,
back, chest, arms, and behind the ears. It occurs as painful large pus-filled white bumps. Redness and inflammation are other identifying characteristics of this condition. Cystic acne usually leaves permanent deep pits or shallow depressions on the skin.
From hormonal changes in puberty to using certain skin care products, several reasons can trigger cystic acne. Scroll down to know more about it!
Schedule An Appointment With A Tampa Dermatologist
Cystic acne can be painful and stubborn, but with enough time, care, and patience, its possible to reduce or eliminate symptoms and feel better about your skin.
If youre struggling with cystic acne and are ready to try clinical solutions, schedule an appointmentin personwith Dr. Lisa Diaz today at our North Tampa office.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always talk with your doctor before starting or stopping medications or treatments.
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Cystic Acne Risk Factors
If one of your parents had severe cystic acne, you have a higher chance of getting it.
Severe cystic acne is more common in men. Women who get it often have cysts on the lower half of their face.
How To Make Cystic Acne Come To A Head
Cystic acne is one of the most difficult skin conditions to treat. Unlike other types of acne, cysts are deep under the skin, which makes them difficult to reach with topical treatments. In addition, they often occur in areas where there is very little skin tissue, making it even more difficult to apply medication.
However, there are a few things that you can do to help bring cystic acne to a head. First, try using a warm compress. This will help to open up the pores and release the sebum that is trapped underneath the skin. Second, try massaging the area with your fingertips or a soft brush.
This will help to loosen the sebum and encourage it to come to the surface. Finally, be sure to cleanse the area gently, as harsh cleansers can further irritate the skin. By following these simple steps, you can help bring your cystic acne to a head and get on the road to clear skin.
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Products That Could Be Making Cheek Acne Worse
One of the best ways to get rid of acne on cheeks is to look at what products youre using on your face. Many skincare products arent very acne-friendly, and there are all kinds of ingredients you should be on the lookout for.
Acne Treatment Products
Believe it or not, the products you use to treat your acne may be causing it. This is because many acne products are far too harsh. Acne treatments use chemicals designed to help kill acne-causing bacteria and exfoliate the skin, which is great and effective, but many use too much of these chemicals to get rid of acne right away. The problem is, the acne will go away at first, but then it will return when the acne treatment starts irritating your skin.
The far better option is acne treatment products that take slightly longer to work, but treat your skin gently. Our favorite of these on the market right now is Exposed Skincare. We recommend Exposed because it works, and we like the companys philosophy of using low levels of acne-fighting ingredients combined with natural botanicals. This combo helps clear up acne without irritating your skin.
Sunscreen and Makeup
Non-comedogenic just means non-pore-clogging, which usually means its oil-free or uses small amounts of oils.
Make the switch to SLS-free and fragrance-free shaving cream and skincare products. The skincare line we recommend is sulfate- and paraben-free and avoids added fragrance.
What About Cystic Acne On Your Jawline
Since chin and jawline breakouts tend to be cystic , spot treatments can often dry out the surface but still leave you with a bump underneath. Also, since they are large and severe, they can last for 1-2 weeks and leave behind red, dark scars, which linger even longer, says Rouleau.
Face framed by chin acne? Read on to find out what causes jawline acne and how to clear up your complexion for good.
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One Of The Most Common Areas For Cystic Acne Is Your Cheeks
We put a lot of stuff on our faces: shaving cream, makeup, and dermatological products. These create bacteria and dead skin buildups that, along with sebum and sweat, contribute to breakouts. Other areas of concern for breakout are your chin, forehead, and even your back as these areas, along with your cheeks, have the most concentrated number of sebaceous glands than anywhere else on the body.
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Wash Your Pillowcases More Often
As much of a no-brainer as it may seem, most of us dont wash our pillowcases as often as we should. If you have acne-prone skin, anything that touches it can make the problem worse. That means hats, towels, headbands, phones, makeup brushes, and sheets should all be kept clean and free of harmful bacteria. We touch our phones all day long, so not cleaning it could transfer lots of germs and bacteria to your skin.
Experts recommend changing your sheets every week and your pillowcases two or three times per week and using a detergent thats geared toward sensitive skin, if you can. Wipe your phone down as often as you can or, better yet, use headphones when chatting, to avoid skin contact altogether. Wipe makeup brushes down once per day, if possible, with a more thorough soak once a week.
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How Dermatologists Treat Severe Acne
When a patient has severe acne, a dermatologist often recommends treating it with one of the following.
Antibiotic + medicine you apply to the acne: This is often the first treatment recommended for severe acne. Taking an antibiotic can reduce the redness and swelling of acne. The medicine you apply to your skin works on reducing bacteria and clogged pores.
If this treatment fails to clear your skin, your dermatologist may switch your antibiotic or talk with you about isotretinoin .
Isotretinoin: This is a potent medicine that attacks all four causes of acnebacteria, clogged pores, excess oil, and inflammation . About 85% of patients see permanent clearing after one course of isotretinoin.
Due to possible side effects, you will need to carefully consider whether you want to take this medicine. If you decide to take isotretinoin, you must enroll in a monitoring program.
Birth control pill : A birth control pill can be an effective part of an acne treatment plan. When treating severe acne, a birth control pill may be used along with an antibiotic or a medicine called spironolactone to get the acne under control.
Give treatment time
Give your acne treatment time to work. It can take two to three months to see improvement.
If the pill may be an option for you, its important to tell your dermatologist about all of your medical conditions, including heart disease. Your dermatologist must weigh the risks of using a birth control pill to treat acne against the benefits.
Establish A Skincare Routine
Skincare isnt just about washing your face. You need a tiered system of products to clean, treat, and restore your skin. While washing and treating severe acne breakouts is important, dont forget to moisturize .
Its essential to remain consistent with your skincare routine, using products designed to fight bacteria and keep the pores cleaned out to avoid further infection. BioClarity’s skincare line uses Floralux® to help nourish the skin using plant power. To ensure your skincare routine is giving you the best chance in the battle against acne, use our three-step skincare routines. Our naturally-derived products are safe, clinically proven, and cruelty-free.
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What Are Other Cystic Acne Treatments
Other treatments for cystic acne include:
- Corticosteroid injections: Used to quickly shrink large, painful acne cysts.
- Incision and draining: Helps to open up an acne cyst and drain the pus.
- Birth control pill or spironolactone: Used by women to lower hormone levels that cause cystic acne.
- Isotretinoin: An oral retinoid .
How A Dermatologist Can Help You Get Rid Of Cystic Acne
If at-home remedies arent helping to treat your cystic acne flare ups, its time to see a dermatologist for treatment. A dermatologist can prescribe medications that are stronger than what you can find over-the-counter or do at home.
Depending on whats causing your acne flare ups, a dermatologist can prescribe the following:
- Antibiotics to fight infections and reduce inflammation
- Isotretinoin to treat severe cases
- Spironolactone to regulate oil production
- Steroid shots injected directly into cysts to reduce inflammation and lessen pain
Not all treatments are appropriate for all patients, and some medications may come with unpleasant side effects. Your dermatologist will talk with you about which option is best for you depending on the cause of your cystic acne. You may have to try a few different treatments to find the one thats most effective for you.
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