What is cystic acne?

Degrees of Acne Severity
  • What is cystic acne?

Cystic acne is the most severe form of acne. Instead of inflamed pimples or whiteheads, it sits beneath the skin in hard, round cysts that can linger for weeks. An infection causes it beneath the surface, usually when a pore becomes blocked by oil, dead skin or bacteria, which then becomes inflamed and painful. 

Cystic acne can appear almost boil-like, or with large, red lumps that are painful to the touch. While often filled with pus or blood, the bumps not able to be 'popped' from the surface - do not attempt to do this at home! Cysts may require medical attention should they not fade or disappear over time.

  • What causes cystic acne?

Cystic acne forms when a pore, hair follicle or sweat gland becomes blocked and inflamed beneath the surface of the skin. It's harder to treat than acne and can be much more painful. Cystic acne unfortunately also can be very noticeable, as it can form prominent red, raised lumps. Cystic acne can take a toll on self-confidence and self-esteem, and unfortunately, there is no clear way to prevent it from forming.

Hormones are a vital player in all forms of acne, including cystic as they stimulate oil production, which can then create blocked pores. Some external factors can have an impact, such as stress, diet or sleep patterns, but this generally affects overall health, rather than cystic acne specifically. Cutting out sugar or dairy may be worth a try if the issue is unrelenting.

  • How do you treat cystic acne

Acne medication generally won't work on cystic acne; it needs either a doctor or dermatologist to access and plan treatment accordingly. Antibiotics are one way of treating the bacteria and easing the inflammation, and there are a variety of other prescription medications that will help to relieve symptoms. Some doctors may also prescribe oral antibiotics to balance or alter hormone levels. People with cystic acne mustn't try to burst the cysts. Squeezing or lancing the wound increases the chance of further infection by introducing bacteria, and will worsen the chances of lasting scarring.

  • How to prevent cystic acne

As cystic acne is often caused by factors that are more than skin-deep, avoiding it can be difficult. Keeping in good health is one way to try to ease symptoms and help with recovery - try to get enough sleep, keep stress to a minimum and enjoy lots of lovely fruit and veggies.

Maintaining an anti-acne skincare routine won't necessarily prevent the cysts, but it will help to keep skin generally clean and healthy. Manuka oil has strong antibacterial properties, so using skincare with manuka oil will help to avoid infection and keep pores unclogged. ManukaRx has a range of anti-acne skincare, specially formulated to ease the signs and symptoms of acne, and help to prevent breakouts. Try ManukaRx Acne Prevention Oil, ManukaRx Foaming Facial Cleanser for Acne or ManukaRx Extra Gentle Cleansing Soap. Available online or select health stores nationwide.


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