Cystic acne is the most serious type of acne that forms when oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria collect in sweat/sebaceous ducts or pores, leading to infection and inflammation. This type of acne develops as soft, fluid-filled lumps under the surface of the skin. Whereas whiteheads and blackheads occur on the surface layers of the skin, cystic acne occurs much deeper, causing pus-filled cysts, large white bumps, boil-like infections, and red, tender skin. It can be very painful and can cause permanent scarring.
Cysts occur when the inflammation leads to rupture of the hair follicles. If an outbreak develops, it is important not to squeeze, irritate, or harshly scrub the cysts – rupture releases compounds that trigger wider inflammation and deeper, hard, painful cysts.
Cystic acne can develop anywhere on the body but most commonly occurs on the face, chest, neck, back, and arms. An outbreak typically occurs in your teens and early 20s, but it can develop as early as 8 years of age and as late as 50 years of age. Cystic acne can affect anyone but is most common in teenage boys and young men.
Causes of Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is commonly caused by hormonal changes, which can trigger glands to increase the production of an oily substance known as sebum. Common life stages that cause hormonal changes include puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Taking birth control pills can also increase hormone levels and cause acne. Other factors include certain medications, greasy makeup, cleansers, lotions, and clothing, perspiration, and a family history of acne occurrence. Contrary to popular belief, acne is not caused by poor hygiene or inadequate face washing.
Follow these practical measures to avoid making acne worse. These self-care tips are useful for anyone with acne, including people with cystic acne:
- Do not wash too often – Cleansing the outbreak area twice a day is enough. Use a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water.
- Do not scrub harshly when washing – Avoid abrasive soaps, cleansing granules, astringents, or exfoliating agents.
- Leave pimples alone – Picking, squeezing, and irritating the acne is likely to worsen its condition.
- Avoid using heavy makeup and oily skin and hair care products, choose water-based, noncomedogenic formulations, and always remove makeup before bed.
DermaHealth offers a wide variety of acne treatments. A short description of the options we provide can be found below, or visit our Acne page for a more in-depth description of each.
Levulan® BLU-U® photodynamic therapy is a gentle acne treatment that applies blue light illumination to kill certain acne bacteria in the skin. This is an ideal approach to treating moderate acne.
Isōlaz is a laser treatment focusing on the elimination of acne and the reduction of large pores. It is a painless, chemical- and medication-free treatment. Isōlaz works by emitting a painless broadband light that destroys acne-causing bacteria, leaving the skin clean and rejuvenated.
The Clarisonic cleansing device employs a soft, gentle brush that oscillates back and forth more than 300 times per second. This effective cleansing technique allows products to better absorb into the skin, leaving the skin softer, smoother, and more radiant. Oily areas and dry patches are reduced, and pores appear smaller. At DermaHealth, we encourage all of our clients to be kind to their skin and use a Clarisonic every day.
For more information and to see if you are a candidate for our acne treatments, schedule a complimentary consultation with DermaHealth today.