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Hi, folks. I'm new to the boards. You're all much more knowledgeable about this topic than I. I would greatly appreciate some advice. Thank you in advance.

I was fortunate to get through my teen years without much acne. Now that I am 26, though, I am experiencing intermittent cystic acne on different parts of my body - mostly my face. I'm wondering if this is the result of a hormonal imbalance. (I plan to get that checked soon.)

A few times a month, I get these huge pimple-like cysts on the sides of my face. They're painful and difficult to cover with makeup. At first I thought I was allergic to my detergent, shampoo, soap or pillow fabric, so in vain I switched them all out, yet the problem persisted. (I even stopped washing my face with soap for weeks - just water - and nothing changed.) I tried OTC acne products, but those didn't prevent the breakouts or reduce the cysts once they appeared. Sometimes they go away quickly and other times they stubbornly stick around for a week or more.

I don't have any scars, but I am getting red marks between breakouts. I've seen cystic acne on people before and it's usually much more aggressive than what I have. That's why I'm wondering if my doctor would even take me seriously about this. I want to get on Accutane or some other acne medication before scarring occurs or, worse yet, the acne spreads to other parts of my face.

I have also gotten a few cysts on my back and thighs. These are less common, but when they appear, they're very painful and frustrating.

Do I have to see a dermatologist or can a GP prescribe cystic acne medication? Would the regimen work on me or is cystic acne in a league of its own?

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My cystic acne turned out to be an allergic reaction to a food. You might try avoiding common allergens one by one to see if it helps. In my case, it's citrus. But dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts, nuts and some others I can't think of right now are more common.

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