Cystic acne refers to acne that comes with large acne lesions called nodules or cysts. These lesions result from a pore exploding deep within the skin. They are long-lasting lesions more than 5mm in diameter, often painful, and likely to scar. For this reason, aggressive topical treatment with benzoyl peroxide (with the addition of 10% glycolic acid after 1 month) is in order to get cystic acne under control.
In severe cases of cystic acne, dermatologists sometimes prescribe isotretinoin, an oral medication that is akin to a “nuclear option” for acne. While effective in clearing cystic acne, isotretinoin also comes with a plethora of side effects. It changes the skin and the entire body from the inside out, and can leave the user with lifelong issues. It is also the #1 birth defect-causing medication on the market. For these reasons, it must be entered into cautiously, even in cases of cystic acne.
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Latest in Cystic Acne
Do Hormones Cause Cystic Acne?
Hormones, specifically androgens, which are male hormones found in both males and females, are required for acne to form. Generally speaking, more androgens lead to...
April 20, 2021
What's the Best Treatment for Cystic Acne?
When acne is severe, widespread, and scarring, isotretinoin is the most effective treatment, but comes with severe, and potentially lifelong side effects. It also causes severe birth defects. Other options include oral antibiotics, steroids, and hormonal treatment (females only).
April 19, 2021
Cystic Acne on the Body
The body has larger and more productive skin oil glands, and therefore, more severe acne lesions often develop on the back, chest, shoulders, and the back of the neck. Cystic acne is the same disease whether it is on the face or the body and is treated similarly.
April 09, 2021
Regular Acne vs. Cystic Acne: What's the Difference?
Regular acne refers to "zits" or "pimples" that almost everyone has gotten before. Cystic acne refers to larger and more severe acne lesions called nodules and cysts. Cystic acne lesions are more than 5 mm in diameter, sore, long-lasting, and often lead to scarring.
April 02, 2021
What Is Cystic Acne?
Cystic acne is a severe, and often scarring, type of acne with larger, more painful lesions called nodules and/or cysts. It responds to treatment with...
December 02, 2020
What Is an Acne Cyst?
Acne cysts are very large lesions that are part of a type of severe acne called "nodulocystic acne," or more simply, "cystic acne." They are soft to the touch and are normally found on the upper back, back of the neck, and face.
November 15, 2020
What Is a Draining Sinus?
A draining sinus is a huge acne lesion (2-5 centimeters long) that forms when multiple cysts merge inside the skin. Draining sinuses are filled with pus that can leak onto the skin but should never be popped. Instead, see a dermatologist for treatment.
October 29, 2020
Should You Pop Cystic Acne?
Never pop an acne nodule or cyst. They usually do contain no pus, and there is nothing to "pop." Even if a cystic acne lesion contains pus, it is so far under the skin that you will only worsen the infection by attempting to pop it. To quickly heal a large acne lesion, get a cortisone shot instead.
April 26, 2020