Let’s get straight to the point.

Cystic acne can be really painful and there are a lot of misconceptions about how it starts and how it can be treated.

We have compiled a list of everything that you ever wanted to know about it and hope that it will address all your concerns.

Cystic Acne Causes Cyst Formation

Cyst plus acne always equals cystic acne.

Cysts are sacs filled with air or liquid. They are benign in most cases but with acne, it is a different ballgame.

They are especially difficult to treat if they become infected and inflamed.  Therefore, you should take them seriously.

Cystic Acne Needs Extensive Treatment

Cystic acne can become chronic even if the disease in its early stages. If are one of those who delay treatment thinking that the disease will go away on its own, please know that this will not work with cystic acne.

If you don’t seek treatment for cysts, they will lodge even deeper into your skin and you will need a surgery to get them removed.

You will also need a heavy dose of antibiotics and vitamin A. These antibiotics are usually mixed with creams that have Benzoyl peroxide in them.

There Are Two Types Of Cystic Acne

There are two subtypes of cystic acne which makes diagnosis and treatment a bit tricky. Cystic acne can form either nodules or cysts from simple papule lesions.

  • Nodules: Nodules are basic pustules that can cause severe pain when they become inflamed due to bacterial infestation. They can form anywhere and get lodged into vital organs as well. Nodules are commonly found on shoulders, armpits, groin and face.
  • Cysts: Cysts are bumps filled with pus that commonly appear on the epidermis. They are are smooth, liquid-filled sacs that do not penetrate deeper skin layers. They can vary in shape and size.

High Glycemic Diet Can Worsen Cystic Acne

What you eat will show on your face.

Research has shown that glycemic diet makes cystic acne condition worse. High glycemic index diet contains foods that raise blood sugar levels such as bread, potatoes, crackers and pastries.

High sugar levels in blood can cause inflammation as well result in increase in hormone production.

On the other hand a low glycemic index diet has been shown to improve acne symptoms. Improvements in weight and insulin sensitivity also improved acne lesion counts in young male participants of the study.

Most Common Reasons Why Cystic Acne Occurs

The most common reasons for cystic acne are contraceptive pills, hormonal changes, lesion infections, diet, genetic factors and pregnancy. Other indirect causes are stress and smoking.

  • Hormonal Changes:  Adolescents and teens are common victims of acne because their hormones are haywire. Testosterone and estrogen wreak havoc by activating and enlarging oil glands that causes acne. Extra oil is an ideal spot for bacterial growth. Once the hormones stabilize, the acne does go away but in some cases it chooses to stay around.

In that case, it is better to contact a doctor.

  • Genetic Factors:  You can also blame your genes for the acne eruption on your face.  The chance of acquiring acne due to genes is 80 percent and the greater the prevalence in your family, the more severe your acne is going to be.The genes that are responsible for spreading acne are Interleukin-1 alpha, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha and CYP1A1. Individuals with a history of cystic acne need to be extra vigilant and should consult a dermatologist immediately to prevent the condition from worsening.
  • Diet: There are varied opinions on the impact of diet on cystic acne. However, it doesn’t hurt to be careful. Nutrients that you should keep a lookout for are Vitamin A, fatty acids, and carbohydrates.Lack of Vitamin A and fatty acids causes dry, itchy skin which increases the chances of developing acne whereas carbs can aggravate it.
  •   Lesion Infections: When bacteria infect a lesion, your life is going to get difficult because that marks the start of an acne outbreak. This is especially common if a person has dry skin which can crack easily. Lesion infections can easily spread to other areas so it is best to keep your hands off your pimples.
  • Oral Contraceptive Pills: This is simple. They contain hormone and disturbs the body’s chemical balance. Young women who use them frequently are susceptible to acquiring acne.
  • Pregnancy: Nothing makes as many changes in a woman’s body as does pregnancy. It causes hormonal fluctuations, increased sebum production and water retention. All of these factors greatly increase chances of acne development.
  • Stress: Bond between stress and acne is inseparable. Unfortunately, the exact mechanism by which stress causes acne is relatively unknown.Stress has been known to cause mild to moderate symptoms of acne. Release of stress hormones such as glucagon and cortisol increases sebum production which in turn aggravates acne.
  • Smoking: Not much is known about this connection either, but smoking does cause mild to moderate symptoms of acne.

The exact mechanism is not clear, but research suggests that cigarette smoke causes inflammation and, weakens immunity which makes things easy for bacteria.

It Is Important To Differentiate Between The Various Stages Of Cystic Acne

Recognizing different stages of acne is vital and if you can’t do it, consult your doctor. The most common indicators of cystic acne are nodules and cysts but when the pustules worsen, it should ring an alarm bell. Nodules usually take longer to heal and can evolve into cysts.  If all the symptoms appear together over a prolonged period of time, acne conglobate forms. It is better to stay in touch with your doctor throughout your treatment.

Over The Counter Medication Does Not Help

Over the counter medications work for mild acne but is useless when it comes to cystic acne. Try one of the following for better results:

  • Antibiotics: If the aim is to kill bacteria, nothing works as well as antibiotics.  But the usage has to be monitored because bacteria can become resistant to it as well.
  • Hormone Therapy: Hormone therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for cystic acne.. Even FDA is backing this research and has approved four Combined Oral Contraceptive pills (COCs) as hormonal treatments to combat acne in women.
  • Retinoid: This is a safer option for patients who are old or have a weak immune system. Retinoid fight off pore clogging and reduce the risk of bacterial infection. Surgery: If the nodules are lodged deeply, then a surgery becomes compulsory. This is one of the main reasons why cystic acne is such a pain, both literally and metaphorically.

So be better informed and take the right decisions when it comes to acne treatment. If you are careful, you can easily be among those who have successfully rid themselves of this ailment.