Dealing with cystic acne can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience. Characterised by deep, painful breakouts that can linger for weeks or even months, this severe form of acne can take a toll on your self-esteem and overall well-being. While it's always advisable to consult a dermatologist for personalised advice, there are several home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms and promote clearer, healthier skin.
What is Cystic Acne?
Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that is characterised by large, deep, and painful breakouts. It occurs when the pores in the skin become clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Unlike milder forms of acne, such as whiteheads or blackheads, cystic acne develops deep within the skin and often leads to the formation of inflamed, pus-filled nodules or cysts.
What Causes Cystic Acne?
- Hormonal fluctuations, especially during puberty and menstrual cycles, can trigger cystic acne.
- Excessive production of oil by the sebaceous glands can contribute to the development of cystic acne.
- Bacterial infection, particularly by Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), can worsen cystic acne.
- Inflammation plays a significant role in the formation and persistence of cystic acne.
- Genetics can make individuals more susceptible to developing cystic acne.
- Certain medications, tension, diet (high-glycemic foods and dairy), and lifestyle habits can influence the severity of cystic acne.
How to Treat Cystic Acne?
Prescription Topicals: Dermatologists may prescribe topical treatments containing ingredients such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, or antibiotics to reduce inflammation, unclog pores, and control bacteria.
Oral Medications: In severe cases, oral medications like oral antibiotics (e.g., tetracycline, doxycycline), hormonal therapies (e.g., birth control pills, spironolactone), or isotretinoin (Accutane) may be recommended to target underlying causes of cystic acne.
Intralesional Injections: Corticosteroid injections directly into the cysts can help reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process.
Extraction: Dermatologists may perform gentle extraction of cysts using specialised tools to drain them safely and reduce pain and inflammation.
Gentle Cleansing: Cleanse the skin twice daily using a mild, non-comedogenic cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and bacteria without stripping the skin.
Moisturise: Use a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated without clogging pores.
Avoid Aggravating Products: Steer clear of harsh scrubs, abrasive cleansers, and heavy makeup that can irritate the skin and worsen acne.
Spot Treatments: Apply over-the-counter spot treatments containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid directly on cystic acne lesions to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Maintain a Healthy Diet: Incorporate a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit sugary, high-glycemic foods and dairy products, as they may exacerbate acne for some individuals.
Tension Management: Practise tension-reducing techniques such as exercise, meditation, or deep breathing exercises, as tension can contribute to acne flare-ups.
Good Hygiene Habits: Avoid touching or picking at acne lesions, as it can worsen inflammation and potentially lead to scarring.
Cystic Acne Treatment at Home
Here are six home remedies that can complement professional treatment and help alleviate cystic acne:
- Apply a warm compress to the affected area for 10-15 minutes, a few times a day.
- The warmth helps reduce inflammation, promotes blood circulation, and aids in the healing process.
Tea Tree Oil:
- Dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and apply it to the cystic acne lesions.
- Tea tree oil has natural antibacterial properties that can help kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Honey and Cinnamon Mask:
- Mix equal parts of honey and cinnamon to create a paste.
- Apply the mixture as a mask to the affected area and leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off.
- Honey has antibacterial properties, while cinnamon helps reduce inflammation.
Aloe Vera Gel:
- Apply pure aloe vera gel directly to the cystic acne lesions.
- Aloe vera has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm the skin and promote healing.
- Dilute apple cider vinegar with water and apply it to the affected area using a cotton ball.
- Apple cider vinegar can help balance the skin's pH, reduce inflammation, and fight against bacteria.
- Mix turmeric powder with water or honey to create a paste.
- Apply the paste to the cystic acne lesions and leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off.
- Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help soothe the skin and reduce redness.
Incorporating home remedies like warm compress, tea tree oil, honey and cinnamon mask, aloe vera gel, apple cider vinegar, and turmeric paste can complement professional treatment for cystic acne. Consistency and patience, along with personalised advice from a dermatologist, are crucial for managing and improving cystic acne effectively.
Q: What worsens cystic acne?
A: Factors like hormonal imbalances, excessive oil production, bacterial infection, inflammation, certain medications, tension, diet (high-glycemic foods, dairy), and lifestyle habits can worsen cystic acne.
Q: Why is my cystic acne so hard?
A: Cystic acne is hard because it develops deep within the skin, forming painful, inflamed nodules or cysts. The lesions are larger and more severe compared to milder forms of acne, making them harder to treat and heal.
Q: What does severe cystic acne look like?
A: Severe cystic acne is characterised by large, deep, and painful cysts or nodules under the skin. The lesions are often inflamed, red, and can cause significant discomfort. It may leave behind scars or dark spots even after the blemishes have healed.
7 Home Remedies for Cystic Acne, By Scott Frothingham, on March 26, 2020