The Right Way to Treat Cystic Acne

The Right Way to Treat Cystic Acne
by Truly Beauty

When it comes to pimples, there's nothing worse than those deep, cystic acne flare-ups that leave you both emotionally and physically drained. Besides being almost impossible to cover, cystic breakouts are ridiculously painful. 

And because cystic acne is rooted deep within the skin tissue, it can't be treated in the same way as blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. 

If you're struggling with cystic acne, here's everything you need to know about this severe form of acne, and how to treat it in the best possible way.


What is Cystic Acne?

Acne breakouts come in many shapes, sizes, and forms, but cystic acne is considered to be the most severe type of acne. Characterized by inflammatory nodules beneath the skin, cystic acne tends to appear on the chin and jawline, but it can also show up on other areas of the face as well as on the arms and back. Acne cysts are likely to leave behind acne scarring. 

While cystic acne is one of the most severe forms of acne, that doesn't mean it can't be treated with the proper skincare products and over-the-counter treatments. It can!


The Causes

According to dermatologists, cystic acne is often caused by hormones, stress, and food triggers. 

"Fundamentally, everyone’s skin is the same—everyone has hormonal fluctuations, oil productions, and acne-causing bacteria in their skin that could cause a huge breakout at any time,” says skincare expert Mona Gohara, MD. "The sebaceous glands in some people are just naturally more sensitive to these triggers, causing a larger and more frequent inflammatory response."

Lifestyle changes, like eating a healthier diet and reducing stress can help clear the skin. It also might be worth visiting your dermatologist or health care provider to talk about your hormones. Androgen hormones like testosterone are known for stimulating the oil glands, which can cause cystic pimples. You may need to be prescribed oral medication or topical treatments. 

And just in case you were wondering, how you take care of your skin has little to do with developing cystic acne. In other words: it's not your fault!


How to Get Rid of Cystic Acne

Here are some of the best at-home cystic acne treatments to help clear up your skin.


Wash Your Face with a Salicylic Acid-Based Cleanser

Daily face washing should be part of everyone's skincare routine -- even those without cystic acne. If you've got cystic zits, it's best to cleanse your face with a face wash infused with salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that removes excess oil, dead skin cells, and grime, unclogging pores and promoting clearer skin.

A great salicylic acid-based cleanser includes Truly's CBD Jelly Anti-Blemish Facial Cleanser


Use an Oil-Free Moisturizer

Just because you're prone to acne doesn't mean you have a free ticket to skip moisturizing. People with cystic breakouts should use an oil-free, non-comedogenic face cream or serum to hydrate their skin and maintain a healthy skin barrier. 

Choose a moisturizer that contains ingredients like ceramides or hyaluronic acid, which help to reduce redness and inflammation while restoring moisture in the skin. 

Truly's Cream Skin Face Cream is a daily lightweight moisturizer that contains a blend of hyaluronic acid and sea kelp, keeping the skin plump and hydrated. Use it after washing your face with a salicylic-acid cleanser. Avoid using rich, heavy lotions which can clog the pores and trigger blemishes.


Turn to Topical Retinoids

Retinoids are an umbrella term for all vitamin A derivatives such as retinol. According to the derms, retinoids are your best defense against cystic acne. That's because they speed up the shedding within your oil glands, preventing your pores from becoming clogged and ultimately warding off zits. 

You can either start with a prescription-strength retinoid like Adapalene which is commonly found in Differin. Alternatively, try a lower strength retinoid like Truly's Vegan Collagen Booster Facial Serum or Mary Jane Glow Serum.


Make Your Own Spot Treatment

If you're looking for a home remedy to clear up cystic acne, you might want to try this DIY spot treatment option. Simply use a cocktail of benzoyl peroxide and hydrocortisone cream to help the flatten the breakout faster. Both are anti-inflammatories that will help calm the bump and prevent scarring. Once a day for one week, dab a small amount of benzoyl peroxide on the cyst, let it dry, and then apply a thin layer of hydrocortisone cream.


When to Consider Oral Medication

When it comes to treating cystic acne, there are plenty of over-the-counter and prescription options. If you've tried all of the above and you're still struggling with cystic breakouts, visit your local dermatology office for advice on the best oral medication to take.

Your dermatologist may suggest oral antibiotics, hormone regulators like birth control pills or Spironolactone, or acne medications such as Accutane (Isotretinoin). 

You may even want to consider getting a cortisone shot, which will drastically decrease the pain and inflammation in your cysts. It might sound painful, but it's really not a big deal and it only takes around three seconds all in. 

Speak to your dermatologist to discuss potential side effects or if you have another skin condition in addition to cystic acne. 


What About In-Office Treatments?

According to board-certified plastic surgeon Lara Devgan, MD, the best dermatologist treatments for cystic acne include intense pulsed light treatments and chemical peels, as these kill the bacteria that causes acne and unclog pores of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. She adds that "ablative resurfacing lasers and microneedling can be helpful with scarring once the cystic acne has cleared."

Cystic acne is a painful and frustrating skin issue to deal with. However, with the right treatment, you may be able to remove those pesky bumps sitting deep beneath the skin's surface. In the meantime, keep wearing your sunscreen so your skin gets the protection it needs, and avoid using harsh scrubs that may cause irritation to your skin. 



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