No one enjoys waking up to a new pimple. However, if you experience severe acne, a breakout can take weeks and weeks to get rid of and be challenging to conceal. Severe acne typically involves large breakouts that can cover your face (especially along the jawline), chest, or back.
Severe acne, or cystic acne, often takes longer to go away and requires a different approach from other types of acne. You’re also at increased risk for scarring, especially if it’s left untreated. So, how do you get rid of cystic acne?
Fortunately, there are treatments available to help you get rid of your cystic acne.
What Is Cystic Acne?
Cystic acne forms deeper in your skin than most types of acne like whiteheads and blackheads. Since it starts deep under your skin, you’ll often feel it forming before you see it.
This severe form of acne typically involves red, tender bumps or nodules that are painful to the touch. There won’t be a whitehead at the top. You will get swelling and inflammation along with the redness.
Cystic acne forms because the infection goes deep into your skin. Essentially, your pores or follicles become filled with excess oil, bacteria, or dead skin cells that are trapped inside. It’s this infection that forms the bump or cyst, which contains the pus. If the cyst breaks, the infection can spread and cause more breakouts.
Why Does Cystic Acne Cause Scars?
Scarring is more likely with cystic acne because it results in significant inflammation, forms deep under the skin, typically are large, and can take longer to go away. There is also a tendency to want to pop cystic acne when it comes to a head, because they can be very painful and by popping it, the pressure is relieved and the infection can be squeezed out. These factors make scarring more likely. The scars can leave your skin looking pockmarked. Unfortunately, not all acne scars can be successfully removed.
While it’s tempting to pick at your skin or pop cysts, this also will cause scarring. When you try to pop a cyst, you’re forcing the materials in your pore to go deeper. This action can cause more damage and result in the infection spreading. It also will take longer for your skin to heal. It’s critical not to pick at or try to pop a cyst yourself.
What Causes Cystic Acne?
Unfortunately, medical specialists aren’t sure of all the causes of cystic acne, although hormones often play a role. Other factors that can contribute to cystic acne forming include:
- Some medications
- Certain foods
- Menstrual cycle
- Certain skin products
- Sweating or high humidity
- Certain environmental factors
Sometimes it’s hard to determine which factor or factors are contributing to your acne on your own. A dermatologist or medical specialist may be able to help you identify what’s causing your breakouts. Understanding the reason for your acne can help identify treatments that may be most effective for you.
When Will It Go Away?
If left untreated, cystic acne can last years. Unfortunately, it typically doesn’t respond to the same over-the-counter treatments as other types of acne. You may need more specialized approaches.
However, with proper treatment, cystic acne can go away in only a few weeks, especially if caught early in the process.
How Do Dermatologists Treat Cystic Acne?
Cystic acne doesn’t respond well to most over-the-counter treatments that you use for blackheads or whiteheads since the infection is deep down in the pore, not on the surface. Most surface treatments simply can’t go down far enough into the pore to reach the infection. As a result, you’ll need different approaches to get rid of cystic acne.
At some point, most people with cystic acne will see a dermatologist for help. This type of acne can be hard to get rid of by yourself. However, as you will see below, there are other, more natural ways to treat cystic acne that work very well. A dermatologist will evaluate your acne and help you identify factors that may be contributing to your acne. Here are five approaches that dermatologists may take to help you with a cystic acne outbreak.
- Oral Antibiotics
Oral antibiotics may be used when your acne covers a large area of your face. Antibiotics help reduce bacteria and inflammation but don’t address the problems of excess oil or dead skin cells.
You’ll need a prescription. Your doctor will likely only prescribe a short course to avoid concerns of bacterial resistance.
This powerful prescription medication is often prescribed for cystic acne when antibiotics don’t work. Isotretinoin, which used to be sold as Accutane, is a chemical form of vitamin A.
It fights acne by decreasing oil production, reducing inflammation, and destroying bacteria in your pores. However, it can have serious side effects. This medication can have serious side effects on fetuses. As a result, people taking this medication must take at least two forms of birth control and be monitored by a professional. In many cases Isotretinoin is not a permanent solution.
- Topical Retinoids
Retinoids also are compounds derived from vitamin A but are not as strong as isotretinoin. They work on cystic acne by unplugging your follicles of the debris to help remove and prevent acne.
While there is currently one over-the-counter topical retinoid available, you’ll usually need a stronger prescription-strength formula that’s prescribed by a doctor. Since it’s not as strong as isotretinoin, the side effects are less. However, it can irritate your skin, causing temporary redness or peeling.
- Birth Control Pills
Oral contraceptives may be prescribed for women whose cystic acne appears related to hormone fluctuations due to your menstrual cycle. These are thought to work by helping to regulate hormone levels so that acne is less likely to form.
However, this approach is not for everyone. Women who want to get pregnant or are concerned about what happens when they stop the pills may not want to take oral contraceptives.
This medication was developed as a diuretic for treating high blood pressure and edema. This prescription medication also helps manage excess androgen levels that can contribute to acne. It’s usually only prescribed for women who have acne on their jawline or lower face.
This medication can cause birth defects, so you must use birth control when using it. You also shouldn’t use this if you have kidney disease. Additionally, men can’t use it because it can cause feminine traits.
Natural Approaches to Treating Cystic Acne
Some people are unable or don’t want to use prescription medications. Fortunately, there are natural options available that can help reduce your acne and prevent future outbreaks.
There are a variety of vitamins, minerals, and herbs that can naturally help reduce and prevent cystic acne. Many of these substances can also help reduce or prevent acne scarring.
You can benefit from these vitamins, herbs, and minerals by taking supplements designed for acne. However, if you’re currently taking prescription medications, you should consult your doctor first. While many vitamins and minerals can help your acne, here are three naturally occurring substances that may be alternatives to prescription medications.
- DIM (Diindolylmethane)
DIM is a naturally occurring compound and a metabolite of indole-3-carbinol. DIM may help reduce hormonal acne by providing better hormonal balance. It’s found in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and is available as supplements.
There’s limited research on DIM at this time. However, supplements taking daily that provide at least 200mg may help reduce and prevent acne. DIM can be considered as a natural alternative to spironolactone and can be used by men and women. Innate Skin makes a DIM supplement that has been getting excellent results and can be found here Acnevites DIM Complex 200mg.
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A is critical to our bodies and our skin. It can help prevent acne and inflammation as well as help rebuild tissue, protect our skin from environmental factors, and more. Many of the best prescription treatments for cystic acne are chemical derivatives of vitamin A, which helps support the importance of this vitamin.
However, many Americans don’t get enough vitamin A daily through their diet. Fortunately, supplements can help. Vitamin A could be considered as an alternative to prescription medications like isotretinoin and retinoids.
This herb is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and healing properties, which can help your skin. Turmeric plays a big role in ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric can be used as an acne mask to help with acne scarring. It may also help reduce acne, even cystic acne, when taken orally, although more research to understand proper dosing would be helpful. Given it’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it could help fight inflammation just like antibiotics.
What is the Best Supplement for Cystic Acne?
Understanding the potential causes of your cystic acne can help you get rid of and ultimately prevent it from occurring. Until then, you do have treatment options. If prescription medications haven’t led to the results you want or you’re looking for a more natural approach, there are vitamin, mineral, and herbal options that can help reduce your acne and address acne scars.
Thousands of people have turned to Innate Skin’s Clear Skin Vitamin Pack to fight their regular and cystic acne, and have achieved great results! The Clear Skin Vitamin Pack contains many proven acne fighting vitamins and minerals that help keep your skin acne-free, even if you suffer from severe acne. If you’re looking for a DIM supplement to help maintain a healthy hormonal balance for clearer skin, Innate Skin’s Acnevites DIM Complex may be right for you. This vegetarian and non-GMO formula contains 200mg of diindolylmethane per capsule.
The best way to treat cystic acne is from the inside out. A balanced body that is not deficient in any vitamins will have clear, glowing skin.