How and What is Cystic Acne – Painful, Ugly but Controllable

We’ll be looking at Cystic Acne today and how people get it and what to do about it. As we understand it Cystic Acne forms for the same reasons as milder forms of acne, generally it comes from a combination of bacteria, oil, and dry skin cells which get trapped in your pores. It is one of the most painful types of acne and definitely one of the most noticeable as it looks like boils on the skin.

So, now we will go into more detail about the how and what is Cystic Acne.

Cystic Acne

How Do I get Cystic Acne

Pretty much anyone can develop acne but cystic acne tends to happen to people with oily skin. It’s also more common in teenagers, women and older people with an imbalance in hormones.

Normally Cystic Acne decreases as your get older but the deep painful boils won’t go away on their own.

As mentioned Cystic Acne looks like boils on the skin but other characteristics are;

  • Large pus filled Cysts
  • Large white bumps
  • Redness
  • Quite painful to the touch

Cystic Acne tends to be much deeper in the skin while most other forms of acne tend to be on top of the skin. They tend to be most obvious on the face but your can also get cystic acne on the chest, back, neck, arms, shoulders and even behind the ears.


Unfortunately, Cystic Acne tends to be the most common form of acne that creates scarring. You can minimize the effect of scarring while treating this type of acne by;

  • Leave the Cysts alone
  • To not pick or pop them

If your pick at them or pop them your can also spread the infection. Yes, they look ugly and your don’t want them but if your really want them gone please don’t pick or pop them.

If your already have some scarring from cystic acne then your can look at treating this but only after your bring the acne under control.

Over the Counter or Prescription?

With either of these choices it does take time to bring cystic acne under control. Products with Vitamin A are used a lot to help.

Prescription medicines which contain Isotretinon, Spironolactone tend to be the most often used but there are side effects and if your go down this road your will need to discuss what these are with your health care professional. Oral Contraceptives are also used but obviously these are not for everyone and they may not be appropriate if your smoke, have high blood pressure or are trying to get pregnant.

There are also oral antibiotics and these tend to be used when your cystic acne covers a large amount of your skin. These attack the bacteria and inflammation which maybe contributing to the formation of cystic acne but they do not alleviate the excess oil or dead skin build up. Antibiotics should only be used for a short term because of the concern of bacterial resistance which seems to be increasing more and more.

Over the Counter medications can be effective but in some cases they do take a bit longer to treat this type of acne but the side effects are minimal in comparison to prescription medicines. If your try this form, your would want to see results after 3 – 4 months and if your don’t then it may be time to see your doctor or dermatologist and check out other options.

In both cases of these cases your will need to perform a daily regime.

Bad News!!!!! – In a lot of cases your will have more than one type of acne.

Head here if you would like to know more about other acne types

What to do on a Daily basis for Cystic Acne – And other Types

Step One

Clean your skin gently.

Don’t get all vigorous with it, this may actually make things worse. Use only your fingertips (no nails) or a soft washcloth. Clean all the areas, initially don’t go near break out areas, your can save this for last as your don’t want to spread any of the bacteria. When your have done all the areas on your face ( and if need be other parts of your body) then move onto the breakout areas. If your are a sporty type a double wash at night is a good idea, clean, rinse and repeat.

Step Two

Use a Toner or Astringent

This helps remove excess oils and helps tone and hydrate the skin and depending on the ingredients it can help on blackheads and acne. Apply the product on a cotton ball or pad and gently smooth all over the face (and any other areas) and neck to help remove the last bits of cleanser and oil.

You do have to be a little bit careful of your skin type as your don’t want to dry out your skin too much or if your have oily skin your want it to be effective. It may be best to try to avoid products with too much alcohol ( do not drink it!!).

This step can be missed if your find it’s creating too much havoc with your skin but with the products we recommend it should be fine.

Step Three

Apply Acne Treatment

After the toner has dried completely or after your face is completely clean and dry – don’t get vigorous with drying, patting the skin is better than rubbing it like crazy. Smooth on your acne treatment as directed. Let the treatment absorb or dry completely before going to the next step.

Step Four

Apply an Oil Free Moisturizer or Gel.

Before your say I’m crazy – your wouldn’t be the first though. It may seem like adding a moisturizer to already oily skin is counter-intuitive but this is an important step so please don’t skip it. Acne treatments can dry out the skin, so to reduce dry and peeling skin apply this twice a day.

Your moisturizer shouldn’t leave your skin feeling slick and greasy, good treatments are easily absorbed by the skin and won’t aggravate acne.

The flash name your should be looking for is noncomedogenic which basically means it won’t clog the pores of the skin. If your are getting a range of products for the treatment of acne then the product should be noncomedogenic but it does pay to check.

As mentioned this is the best acne treatment we have found.

Keep it Up

So this is three or four steps, a couple of songs long in the morning and evening – or whatever your choose to do to offset the time.

If this sounds all too much then the only other answer is to have pimples and hopefully time will take care of it.

It will take a bit of money but if it will help your skin and self-esteem is it worth it?

Whichever treatment your decide to take on a really important factor to consider is sun protection, with or without acne this is hugely important. With acne, a lot of the treatments your use may make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, it’s no good to get rid of acne but look 90 when your are 19, 29 or 39!!! It’s not that bad but be aware that sun damage is a possibility. A lot of moisturizers do contain a SPF factor, if yours doesn’t then look for a sunscreen for the face as these tend to be less oily and perfumed.

I could have recommended any number of products but there is one that stands out, it is 98% effective against acne including Cystic Acne, they have thousands of happy customers and they offer a money back guarantee ( a real one). Also, when your order there are often specials and free shipping. When your get to the site head over to products/kits, these seem to be the best value and the middle kit has everything your need. Follow this link if your are interested.


Another treatment to look at is light therapy, this can help both in acne treatment and scar reduction – different colored lights for each.

I have written an article on light treatment and if your are interested just follow this link.

I hope your have found some interesting information in this article and please feel free to leave a comment below.








4 thoughts on “How and What is Cystic Acne – Painful, Ugly but Controllable”

  1. Hello Mike, 

    Man, I am glad I have not had to deal with acne that was that bad. As a teenager, I did have some mild issues and could manage them with some excessive hygiene. I have on occasions had some simple pimple pop up and surprise me with excruciating pain when touched. I could not imagine having several of these. 

    It is a good thing there are sites like yours to help out. If I had a condition such as the photo, I would be looking you up!

    I do think you have the right solution though, following a regiment and staying on top of it. I would like to know a bit more about the science behind light therapy too. May look that up just to learn. 

    Thanks for sharing, I am sure this information will help.


    1. Thanks for your comments Chad. It certainly is not one of the nicer forms of acne (is there any!!). There was a link to an article on light therapy there but I do have to say it wasn’t to my best article on the topic, I just can’t seem to find that one but I know its there somewhere. When I do find it I’ll change the link out. All the very best. Mike

  2. Thankfully I’ve never had cystic acne but I have seen it on someone and it was truly horrible. I could see that it was very painful and that they felt self-conscious out in public areas. It can be pretty awful to treat as well as the inflammation takes a long time to go away and leave scars. Your advice is great and I like that you explain that you do need to use a moisturiser and a sunblock.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments Lily. It is one of the worst forms of acne. There is no quick fix pill but with a few choices it can definitely be helped. All the best. Mike

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