Acne breakouts are always unwelcome, but minor eruptions can usually be calmed by an over-the-counter ointment and a strategic dab of makeup. But not all acne is the same, and some types don’t respond well to such simple remedies.
Cystic acne is one of those tougher problems, and if you have this particular kind, you may be frustrated with your efforts to get rid of it. Take heart! At Holladay Dermatology & Aesthetics, Dr. Robert Topham and our team of acne experts help teens and adults throughout Holladay and the greater Salt Lake City, Utah, communities fight stubborn acne of all types.
Here’s what you need to know about getting rid of cystic acne.
Know your acne types
Figuring out the best way to get rid of your acne starts with knowing exactly which type you’re dealing with.
There are six main types:
- Whiteheads: small flesh-colored bumps with a white center
- Blackheads: small dark spots
- Papules: solid, tender, bumps under your skin with no white center
- Pustules: larger bumps with visible center of pus (pimples)
- Nodules: hard lumps
- Cysts: very large, painful, red lumps deep under the skin
Whiteheads and blackheads respond well to at-home treatments and a diligent cleansing routine. Papules and pustules are inflammatory types of acne and may need stronger medication to clear them. Nodules and cysts are the severest forms of acne and typically require the help of a professional dermatologist like Dr. Topham.
As its name suggests, cystic acne occurs when large cysts form under your skin. It may be the result of having very oily skin, but it may also be related to hormonal imbalances, which is why teenagers and women get this type more often than others.
An acne cyst isn’t the run-of-the-mill pimple you’re tempted to pop — which you should never do, no matter what type of acne you have — but rather, it’s a large, swollen red lump that hurts when you touch it.
Avoiding cystic acne
Avoiding all types of acne is everyone’s skin care goal, but cystic acne is the worst kind and worth going the extra mile to sidestep it if you can.
The best way to do that is the same way you avoid all acne:
- Follow a healthy skin cleansing routine (we can help you)
- Use only noncomedogenic and oil-free products on your face
- Remove your makeup before going to bed
- Wear oil-free sunscreen everyday
These steps give you the best chance of getting through life mostly blemish-free, but if you do end up with acne, there’s still hope for clear skin.
Try these tips to ease cystic acne
Although most cases of cystic acne need professional help, there are a few home remedies you can try to ease the pain and inflammation, including:
Vinegar has natural antibacterial properties, so it may help keep germs at bay. A very diluted solution — about two teaspoons of vinegar in three cups of pure water — may fight the bacteria in your cysts. But if you notice any skin irritation, this remedy isn’t for you.
Facial masks can be great for hydrating, cleansing, and toning, but if you want one for your cystic acne, you may need to DIY it.
Some say that crushing an aspirin tablet, making a paste with a little water, and applying it directly to your cyst may reduce the pain and inflammation.
Others swear by a turmeric mask using the same method. But remember, if any skin treatment causes skin irritation, stop using it.
As with any type of inflammation, a flare-up of cystic acne may subside with cold therapy. Try rubbing an ice cube gently over your cyst to ease redness, pain, and swelling.
Tea tree oil
Some folks have luck with tea tree oil, a natural antibacterial and antimicrobial substance. Dab a little on your cysts to keep them clean and prevent further infection.
What to expect from professional treatment
If home remedies aren’t working, Dr. Topham can help you get rid of your cystic acne. After a thorough examination and talking to you about what you’ve tried, he may prescribe a topical medication, an oral medication, or birth control pills (if you’re a woman).
One of the most effective medications for cystic acne is isotretinoin, a very potent form of vitamin A. About 85% of acne sufferers report significant improvements in acne after taking isotretinoin for about 4 months.
If you have severe cysts, Dr. Topham may need to excise and drain them to relieve the pressure and release the infected fluid.
Rest assured that whatever type of acne you have, Dr. Topham can help you clear up your complexion — even if it’s cystic acne. To schedule an appointment, call us at 801-272-4408 today.