A pimple is one thing; but the painful, large, red bumps that indicate cystic acne, is a whole different animal. Cysts are noncancerous, closed pockets of tissue that can be filled with fluid, pus, or other material. These breakouts are deep and can last for years, so its best to see a dermatologist for guidance when suffering with cystic acne.
When cystic acne occurs, a pore in the skin gets clogged with dead skin cells or bacteria, which causes the skin to become inflamed and painful to the touch. These cysts may itch, and if they burst, infection can spread to cause a larger breakout. Most people develop cystic acne in their teens or early 20s, but it can strike at nearly any age, on any part of the body. The exact cause of cystic acne is unknown, but it may be attributed genetics or changes in hormone levels.
Over-the-counter medicines have little effect on cystic acne. However, there are some other treatments that may help clear cystic acne.
- Oral Antibiotics
Oral antibiotics work from the inside out, killing an excess skin bacteria. Common oral antibiotics for cystic acne are clindamycin or erythromycin.
- Birth-Control Pills
Cystic acne can be a side effect of an internal hormone imbalance. For some, taking the right birth control daily may help balance these hormones.
Spironolactone is also used for treating cystic acne when hormones are to blame. Spironolactone is primarily used as a diuretic, but for cystic acne, a doctor will prescribe it for its anti-androgenic properties, which basically means, the drug stops the body from producing the biological effects of testosterone.
- Topical Retinoid
A doctor may prescribe a topical retinoid creams, lotions, or gels to battle cystic acne. Retinoids increase healthy cell turnover, stimulate collagen and elastin, and also fade hyperpigmentation.
Isotretinoin is a pill prescribed by a doctor; it is related to vitamin A, and it is a retinoid. Isotretinoin reduces cystic acne by limiting the production of the skin’s natural oil, sebum. Isotretinoin treatment will dry out current cystic acne and stop new cystic acne from developing.
- High Frequency Treatment
High frequency treatment is administered at spa or medical spa. It is the process of using infrared light to kill bacteria and induce oxygen flow. This process helps kill the acne bacteria and discourage the development of new cysts.
The type of treatment someone may choose for cystic acne will depend on individual factors. Taking a daily medication may come with risks and they should be discussed with a doctor. Cystic acne may take several months to over a year to clear, but don’t lose hope, and stay on track. Consistency is key when starting any new acne treatment.