Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can occur in different forms, ranging from mild to severe. One of the most severe forms of acne is cystic acne. This type of acne can be painful, inflamed, and may leave scars. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of cystic acne.

What is Cystic Acne?

Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog the hair follicles. The clogged pores then become infected with bacteria, resulting in inflammation and pus-filled cysts that are often large and painful. Cystic acne can occur on the face, neck, chest, and back.

Causes of Cystic Acne

Several factors can contribute to the development of cystic acne, including:


Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy can lead to increased oil production in the skin, leading to the development of cystic acne.


If one or both parents had severe acne, there is a higher chance of developing cystic acne.


A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to increased insulin levels, leading to the production of excess oil in the skin and the development of cystic acne.


Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and lithium, can cause acne as a side effect.

Symptoms of Cystic Acne

The symptoms of cystic acne can vary from person to person, but they typically include:

Large, painful cysts

Cystic acne is characterized by large, painful cysts that are filled with pus.

Redness and inflammation

The skin surrounding the cysts can become red and inflamed.


If cystic acne is left untreated, it can lead to scarring, which can be difficult to treat.

Psychological impact

Cystic acne can have a significant psychological impact, leading to low self-esteem and anxiety.

Treatments for Cystic Acne

Cystic acne can be challenging to treat, but there are several options available:

Topical treatments

Topical treatments, such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and antibiotics, can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.

Oral medications

Oral medications, such as antibiotics and isotretinoin, can be used to treat severe cases of cystic acne.

Light therapy

Light therapy, such as blue light therapy and photodynamic therapy, can help kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels can help remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, reducing the appearance of cystic acne.


In some cases, a dermatologist may use a sterile instrument to extract the pus from cysts to reduce inflammation and prevent scarring.

Prevention of Cystic Acne

While it may not be possible to prevent cystic acne entirely, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk:

Maintain good skincare habits

Wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser, and avoid using harsh scrubs or exfoliants that can irritate the skin.

Avoid picking or squeezing pimples

Picking or squeezing pimples can lead to further inflammation and scarring.

Avoid high-glycemic-index foods

Foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can increase insulin levels, leading to the development of acne.

Seek professional help

If you have severe acne, it is essential to seek professional help from a dermatologist who can recommend the best treatment options for your skin.


Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that can be challenging to treat and may cause significant psychological distress. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cystic acne, maintaining good skincare habits, avoiding high-glycemic-index foods, and seeking professional help can help reduce the risk of developing this condition.

If you are struggling with cystic acne, it is important to speak with a dermatologist who can recommend the best treatment options for your skin. With the right treatment plan, it is possible to manage cystic acne and prevent scarring.


  1. What is the difference between cystic acne and regular acne?

Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that involves the development of large, painful cysts filled with pus. Regular acne typically involves smaller pimples and blackheads.

  1. How long does cystic acne last?

Cystic acne can last for several weeks or even months, and may leave scars if left untreated.

  1. Can cystic acne be cured?

While there is no cure for cystic acne, it can be effectively managed with the right treatment plan.

  1. Are there any natural remedies for cystic acne?

While there are some natural remedies that may help reduce the symptoms of cystic acne, such as tea tree oil and aloe vera, it is essential to speak with a dermatologist before trying any new treatments.

  1. Can stress cause cystic acne?

Stress can contribute to the development of cystic acne by increasing oil production in the skin, but it is not the only factor involved in the development of this condition.

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