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Cystic Acne

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Pimple problem is every teenagers woe. However, the worst form of acne is cystic acne. It is not caused by eating chocolates, oily food or maintaining poor hygiene. It is often a result of of hormonal changes experienced during puberty. Cystic acne also affects older adults in their 20’s. This acne is very painful and can lead to a lot of embarrassment as it causes an ugly pimple breakout on the face. However, it is a treatable condition, and proper medical care will help in clearing the acne.

What is Cystic Acne?

Cystic acne is the most severe form of acne. It occurs when dead skin cells, white blood cells, fluids and oil build up under the skin. This leads to the formation of pus filled regions called cysts. These cysts not only form on the face, but they can appear on the back, shoulders, chest and arms. The cystic acne occurs deep within the skin and no over-the-counter medication will help.

Symptoms of Cystic Acne

Cystic acne leads to the formation of cysts and nodules on the skin. It may also lead to formation of inflammatory papules and pustules. The cysts are very painful and may leave scars behind. These scars may include the ‘ice pick’ scars that are small and form deep pits, large pits, shallow depressions or hypertrophic scarring that causes raised, red scars.

Causes of Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is caused by blockage of the pores. This happens due to overproduction of sebum and inflammation by the bacterial infection. The main contributing factor for formation of cystic acne is hormonal change that occurs during the teenage years. The hormones lead to overproduction of sebum leading to acne. However, not just the teenagers have to worry about cystic acne, it can affect young adults too. This happens due to use of oily cosmetics, cleaners, lotions as well as wearing tight fitting clothes. Excessive sweating and living in high humidity areas also makes one prone to cystic acne. Use of certain drugs and chemicals such as corticosteroids, isoniazid, phenytoin, etc. also increases chances of acne.


Cystic acne is easily diagnosed by examination. When more than 5 cysts with over a 100 comedones are visible.

Treatment and Prevention of Cystic Acne

Cystic acne requires medical treatment as strong drugs are needed to cure and prevent the acne. The dermatologist will prescribe oral antibiotics that help control the bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide can also help in reduction of cystic acne. It is available in water or alcohol based lotions, creams, soaps, gels, etc. to be used according to skin type. Women are prescribed birth-control pills as they help in the regulation of hormones and thus, reduce the eruptions. Isotretinoin pills are also useful in treating acne.

One should followa healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce the occurrence of acne. Never touch or pick these acne. Get plenty of rest and sleep as well as exercise to keep your skin healthy. Relax to reduce stress, that causes hormonal imbalance leading to pimples. Speak to a dermatologists, if you are suffering from a painful cystic acne breakout.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 07, 2015

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