The most annoying thing about cystic acne is that there isn’t really a definitive reason why we get it. Part of it could be stress, part of it could be hormones. While it’s more typical in teen years, it can also happen in adulthood. I know firsthand because I get cystic pimples every now and then over the last few years. In fact I have one on my nose right now—I JUST had one on my nose and on my chin a few weeks ago. *EYEROLL*
So what’s cystic acne? We get “regular” acne when our pores get clogged typically with dead skin cells and sometimes trapped bacteria. Cystic acne happens when this infection goes deep into the skin causing a (sometimes) red tender bump filled with pus. You DO NOT want to pick or burst these because they can cause more infection (basically you can wind up opening the skin leaving the area exposed to bacteria and all kinds of icky stuff). Also, when you pick them, they can leave quite a mess behind including a cut, scab, and even dark spots after it heals.
Cystic acne does not respond to your typical over the counter medications for milder acne the way whiteheads or blackheads do—basically your pimple cream from Target isn’t going to magically zap that cystic acne. Nope, neither will your fancy one from Sephora. You’re likely going to need to call in the big guns aka take a trip to the dermatologist. Your derm will prescribe what works best for your situation and budget, but some of the treatments include cortisone injections, antibiotics, prescription-strength creams, or your derm might suggest that your gynecologist prescribe a certain dosage of birth control pills which may help regulate your hormones.
There are a few at-home treatments you can do to try to reduce some of the swelling and perhaps shorten the cystic pimple’s life span. I’ve only so far tried icing the pimple (which did help it not hurt so much but it’s still there). There are a number of other at-home remedies you can find online but please be cautious when doing any of them as some ingredients if used incorrectly can cause more harm than help.
Now while I only get cystic pimples every now and then (I’d say they come maybe once or twice or three times a year max), it still sucks because they come out of nowhere and they can either be somewhat small or huuuuge. And they hurt :x Mine usually go away on their own but it takes a long time. I’ve been guilty of picking at them to try to speed along the process and trust me, you don’t want to do that. It’s like waiting for a burn on your face to heal.
And this newest one has bad timing because I was JUST at dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry‘s office about two weeks ago working on a future story. I could have had her prescribe something for me then. It would have been interesting to see what she’d prescribe for me and to document how that process went down, but I have a feeling that by the time I’d have the time to make an appointment, it would go away.
I’ll post more on this subject in the future as it progresses–or if I don’t it means I didn’t have any new cystic breakouts. Either way, stay tuned! Make sure you’re subscribed to the blog so you don’t miss any posts.
In the meantime, I’ll be sure to continue use of my Clarisonic (it helps get the skin six times cleaner than manual cleansing—while this won’t cure or completely prevent cystic acne, this will help to make sure my pores aren’t as clogged) and if it comes up again, I’ll head to a derm to get something prescribed.