When it comes to acne types, cystic acne is the most serious. This painful condition occurs when bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil clog the skin’s pores and get infected deep in the skin.

Cystic acne can happen to anyone. However, it tends to occur more in teens, women, adults with hormonal imbalances, and people who tend to have oily skin. Cystic acne can improve with age. But if you suspect your clients have this condition, suggesting they see a dermatologist is probably the best bet since medication may be needed to clear up the infection.

Below we will explain what causes cystic acne and the various treatment options.

What Causes Cystic Acne?

Genetics, hormone changes, oily skin, and pregnancy are all factors that can cause cystic acne. However, it occurs more frequently in teenagers and women going through various hormonal changes like the onset of their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. The reason for the increased risk for these two groups is the fact that the hormone androgen is changing at these phases in life, which causes an increase in oil production that can result in cystic acne and breakouts. Furthermore, there is a genetic component to cystic acne. If the parents had a history of suffering from the condition, the child is at a higher risk to develop cystic acne.

What Does Cystic Acne Look Like?

Not only is cystic acne the most serious acne type, but it also tends to be the largest in size. While other types of acne appear to rest on top of the skin, cystic acne develops deep in the skin and can often lead to acne scarring. Cystic acne can look like a boil with pus-filled cysts, or large white or red bumps, and is tender or painful to the touch. The condition is most noticeable on the face. But can also develop on the chest, neck, back, arms, shoulders, and behind the ears.

How Is Cystic Acne Treated?

  • Oral Antibiotics: If cystic acne covers a large amount of the skin, oral antibiotics may be a good treatment option since they work by decreasing bacteria and the inflammation that may be contributing to the cystic acne formation in the first place. However, antibiotics don’t address the removal of dead skin cells or excess oil production in the skin.

  • Isotretinoin: Isotretinoin works by decreasing the size of the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for creating the sebum in the skin that clogs the pores and is the cause of acne. Controlling sebum production controls acne from forming. However, Isotretinoin can have serious side effects, so make sure clients talk about these with their dermatologist before taking this medication.

  • Topical Retinoids: Derived from vitamin A, topic retinoids help to unplug the hair follicle to keep the skin’s pores clean. Retinoids also treat existing acne as well as prevent future breakouts. While not as strong as Isotretinoin, retinoids are sometimes used in conjunction with topical antibiotics to be more effective since the antibiotics only kill bacteria and do not help keep the skin’s pores clear of debris.

  • Corticosteroid Injection: To provide pain relief and to shrink the size of the cyst, a dermatologist may opt to inject an artificial version of cortisone directly into the cyst.

  • Manual Excision: In certain instances, an acne cyst may require a surgical procedure known as a manual excision where a small incision is made in the skin to remove the pus-filled material that makes up the cyst.

Skin Care Tips For Your Clients Who Have Cystic Acne

Having a good skincare routine is the best way to prevent cystic acne in the first place. Below are some tips for your clients to help keep this condition at bay.

  • Wash the face daily with a cleanser that removes dirt and oil is removed but isn’t too harsh on the skin.

  • Don’t pick at the skin. This can worsen the condition and spread the bacteria to other places on the skin.

  • Don’t wear make-up to bed.

  • Wear a good oil-free sunscreen with full-spectrum protection.