There are several types of acne and cystic acne is one of the severe forms. Whiteheads and blackheads belong to the category of non-inflammatory acne and pimples, papules, nodules and cystic acne belong to inflammatory type. Cystic acne forms when the small pores present in the skin are clogged by dirt, dead cells of the skin and bacteria. This occurs deep within the skin layer and beneath the nodules and hence difficult to treat.
Cystic acne is white or red colored bumps which are painful to touch. Even when they disappear from the skin, it leaves a scar on the site. Cystic acne can be treated with isotretinoin and in severe forms your doctor may consider removing it surgically. People with oily skin are highly vulnerable to develop cystic acne since there is excess of oil secretion from the glands.
Symptoms Of Cystic Acne :
- Among several kinds of acne, cystic acne is the one that is biggest in size and it occurs distinctively deep within the layers of skin.
- Some of the signs of cystic acne can make it easily distinguishable from other types of acne.
- Cystic acne resemble boils or blisters on the skin
- White or red colored bumps larger in size
- It contains pus inside
- Cystic acne is tender and painful
- They are often found on the face but sometimes occur in the neck, chest and back also.
Cystic Acne Causes
As mentioned earlier, cystic acne develops when the pores of the skin gets blocked with dead cells, debris and bacteria.
1. Excess Of Oil Production – Some people have oily skin and naturally there would be excess of oil secretion from the sebaceous glands. Hair follicles get blocked with dead skin cells and debris matter making it a favorable place for bacteria to live in. When more and more dead cells get piled up it becomes a large sized cystic acne with pus inside.
2. Piling Up Of Dead Skin Cells – Dead skin cells are obviously invaded by bacteria causing an infection. The site where the pores get clogged develops inflammation leading to the formation of cystic acne.
3. Increased Hormone – Cystic acne and many other types of acne are high during the adolescence stage. This can be due to increased production of sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Sudden surge of hormone can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce excess of sebum leading to acne formation. Low volumes of androgens can also cause increased acne production in girls.
4. Certain Medications – Women using contraceptive pills are more prone to develop cystic acne than others. This again can be due to increased hormone secretion. People who are taking certain psychotic drugs like lithium and corticosteroid medications can develop acne in severe form.
5. Influence Of Diet – Both male and female who include high oily diet and high dairy products diet are vulnerable to develop cystic acne. Teens that are eating chocolates frequently and carbohydrate foods like chips and bread are at high risk of cystic acne. Sweet and high calorie diet trigger acne conditions making it worse.
6. Stress – Individuals who have stressful working condition and facing daily stressful events are at risk of acne.
Cystic acne can be easily detected by dermatologist by mere physical examination. Acne is marked by large reddish bumps on the face and some parts of the body having its origin in the deep layers of the skin.
Cystic Acne Treatment
Severe forms of cystic acne needs to be treated and will not fade on its own. OTC topical creams are not effective in treating acne. It is wise to consult a doctor or skin specialist who treats acne, if you have developed painful blister like large papules on the face or any other region.
Firstly, your dermatologist will analyze the intensity of cystic acne and accordingly prescribe medications of suitable strength. You need to be careful in following the instructions given by your doctor in completing the course of medication.
Cystic acne or any other type of acne is a gradual process and does not develop overnight. Similarly you may not see results within a day or two of taking medication. You need to be patient to expect good result since the acne has formed deep inside your skin.
Accutane or drugs that contain Isotretinoin are effective in treating cystic acne. It can be taken in the form of oral pills and topical creams. Improvements in the symptoms can be seen after taking this drug regularly for 4-6 months duration. Isotretinoin is nothing but high power Vitamin A capsule and most of the people have seen good results after taking this drug.
Ask your doctor about the side effects of this drug since it can cause mood swings, easy bruising, headache, muscle pain and inflammation of skin. Not all the people taking this drug would develop these adverse effects, since it depends on the immunity and health condition of the individual.
Since acne is an infection caused by bacteria, antibiotics are useful in controlling the symptoms. Antibiotics of suitable strength will be prescribed along with Isotretinoin and is effective in destroying bacteria thus reducing inflammation.
Topical creams and ointments that contain retinoids are also prescribed for cystic acne. This drug works by clearing off the debris from the hair follicles thus releasing the clogged pores. Retinoids are available in the form of gels and creams. Wash your face with plain water and pat gently with a soft towel. Apply this cream liberally on the site of acne and leave it. The cream gets absorbed by the skin in few minutes. Some of the common creams like Avage, Differin, Tazorac and Retin-A contain retinoids. Retinoids can cause inflammation and reddening of skin. Consult your doctor in the ways of protecting your skin against sunburn.
Spironolactone belongs to the category of diuretic that is recommended for treating hypertension. The same drug is useful for treating cystic acne. This medication can effectively reduce the androgen secretion thus controlling the symptoms of acne. Women who are expecting to get pregnant are not advised to take this drug.
- Oral Contraceptives
Women who develop cystic acne and large blister like growths on their face before or during menstrual period can use oral contraceptives for controlling acne. Birth control pills often contain estrogen can manage secretion of other hormones in the body.
Cystic acne can leave a scar on the skin, after it disappears. In most of the cases scarring cannot be prevented. However one can control the intensity of scarring by not pricing the acne or popping the cysts.
Your doctor would first treat cystic acne and then pay attention for controlling scarring. Several methods of medical treatment including chemical peels, laser therapy and dermabrasion are available for treating scarring.
How To Prevent Acne ?
- One cannot totally prevent acne, but take steps to control it.
- Keep your face clean by washing it twice a day.
- Use a mild cleansing agent for removing excess of oil and dirt from the skin.
- Avoid using scrubber if you have oily skin since it may cause skin irritation.
- Avoid using make-up products if you acne on your face. If necessary, you can choose noncomedogenic products and oil free cosmetics.
- Do not go to bed with makeup.
- Use recommended sunscreen lotion if you are planning to go out.
- Join meditation or yoga classes to manage stress.
- Avoid eating sugar rich foods and foods of high glycemic level.
- Don’t give up. Acne can be cured to large extent, if not fully.
Cystic Acne Home Remedies
Cystic acne can be treated with simple home remedies. But remember it will take sufficient time for any remedy given below to respond. So you need to have patience while following these remedies and use at least for 4-6 months before expecting result.
1. Baking Soda – Baking soda is a natural antiseptic and hence effective in curing acne. Mix 1-2 tsp of baking soda with water and apply this paste on the acne affected regions. Allow some time for it to dry before washing.
2. Epsom Salt – Epsom salt contains magnesium and hence good for reducing swelling of skin. Prepare a paste of Epsom salt with water and apply this paste liberally on your face. Wash the face with lukewarm water after 15 minutes. Apply any moisturizing agent after washing the face since Epsom can cause dryness.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar contains diluted acetic acid and you can add few drops of vinegar in your palm and massage it over the face gently. Leave it overnight and rinse it in the morning.
4. Tea Tree Oil – Add few drops of tea tree oil in a cotton ball and gently massage it on the face. Leave it to dry for few minutes and wash it with lukewarm water. Antibacterial property present in the tea tree oil is effective in controlling spreading of infection caused by bacteria.
5. Coconut Oil – Coconut oil (plain) is an excellent antibacterial agent. Before taking bath, massage your face with few drops of coconut oil and leave it for few minutes. People with oily skin should avoid this remedy for cystic acne.
6. Clay Mask – Clay mask is an effective exfoliating agent and helps in removing excess of oil and toxins from the skin. Add few drops of water or honey or milk to the green clay and apply this paste on the face. Leave it for 15 minutes and wash the face with warm water.
7. Egg White – Egg is a natural protein rich food helps in cleansing the skin. Apply the egg white on the acne areas and allow it to dry before washing your face. You may add few drops of honey or milk along with egg white to get good results.
8. Turmeric Paste – Buy good quality turmeric powder from Indian store and make a paste by adding few drops of water. Gently massage your face using this lotion. Leave it for 15 minutes before washing.
You can also try several other home remedies like Indian lilac, lavender oil, juniper oil, Aloe Vera, and green tea extract for treating cystic acne. You can follow combination of any method but ensure that you are trying it at least for 3-4 months daily.