Updated 12/1/17. Of all the types of acne someone can get, cystic acne is both the most frustrating to treat and can be the most damaging to the skin.
What is cystic acne? Those hard, painful bumps and blemishes that develop deep within the skin, and often appear on the chin or jaw line, and can linger for weeks.
Cystic acne, whether chronic or intermittent, is one of the most frustrating types of acne lesions to deal with. What happens in cystic acne is not a pretty picture. It is typically triggered by a surge in hormones, such as occurs during a woman’s menstrual cycle. The skin’s oil glands become hypersensitive to this cascade of hormones, and react by overproducing sebum—so much, in fact, that the oil gland itself becomes engorged, swollen, and hardened with the excess. Unable to push the extra oil into the lining of the hair follicle (which leads to the surface of the skin via pores), the gland bursts underneath the skin. This causes acute inflammation and irritation, and leads to the redness and soreness of cystic acne. Because these lesions start so deep in the skin, scarring (red, dark and purple marks) is an all-too-common side effect.
They are most often resistant to most topical acne treatments since products designed for treating acne generally work on the surface to dry out the bacteria. In the case of cystic acne, the infection is not on the surface of the skin but rather down in the deeper layers. Have you ever used a drying spot treatment on a cyst to not only find that you’re still left with the sore bump on the skin, but now you have dry, flaky skin on top?
Traditionally, acne cysts have been treated at the dermatologist’s office with either oral antibiotics, or for a quick, fast remedy, a cortisone injection is given. The downside of cortisone injections for cystic acne is that they are expensive, plus the time spent waiting in a doctor’s office, and more seriously, the skin can atrophy in the injection site and can end up looking sunken in. It usually is temporary but it can sometimes take up to a six months to bounce back naturally. Every time you’re injecting a needle into your skin, whether it’s for purposes of reducing wrinkles with cosmetic fillers or treating acne cysts with cortisone, there is always a risk.
How does it work? It uses a purified form of lactic acid along with an advanced delivery system to get into the cyst to dissolve and digest the cystic infection and encourage a quicker recovery. Most users find that it flattens the visible appearance of the cyst 50% quicker than when using nothing at all. I consider it a miracle and our customers do to. If you get cysts, you really have to try it.
The most important advice I can give when it comes to cystic blemishes is not to pick at it. The infection is deep under the skin. I certainly understand that it’s very painful and my clients will say “I feel something under there and I want to get it out”, cysts are NOT meant to come out the surface. They develop deep within the skin and heal deep within the skin. Your body will naturally reabsorb the infection. When it comes to concealing it with makeup, It’s a lot easier to cover a closed bump with makeup, than a picked-at, oozing scab right? The choice is yours.
If you suspect your cysts are hormone related, read my expert tips for preventing adult hormonal breakouts.
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Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”