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Cystic acne troubling you? Dermatologist weighs in on how to treat these zits

Cystic acne can be bothersome, and they can be difficult to treat. Dr Rinky Kapoor, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics explains what it is and how you can get rid of it.


Acne is one skin condition that we can all relate to. We have all had to deal with acne at some point in our lives, especially during our teen years. While all types of acne are a pain, cystic acne is the worst kind. Dr Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics calls it one of the more serious skin conditions as it can be painful and difficult to get rid of. Also Read – Tired of breakouts? Powerful home remedies you must try to get rid of acne

What Is Cystic Acne?

Cystic acne “appears as a form of red lumps under the skin that are filled with pus. It develops when the pores on the skin become clogged with sebum oil, dry skin cells, and impurities and thus become a breeding ground for bacteria,” explains Dr Kapoor. Also Read – That stubborn acne could be a sign of PCOS: Know how they are related


“Bacteria P. acne resides under the skin’s pores. When the pores are blocked by sebum and dead skin cells, the bacterium proliferates, and the pores under the skin become inflamed. It can affect the face, neck, chest, arms, back, and shoulders. Cystic acne looks like a boil on the skin (pus-filled white bump) which is painful to touch.” Also Read – Effective ways to minimise open pores naturally at home

What Causes Cystic Acne?

The worst thing about cystic acne is that it can affect anybody, regardless of their age and gender. However, people with oily skin are more prone to cystic acne. Many things can cause these painful breakouts on the skin. Hormonal changes during the teen years can also lead to cystic acne. Other causes may include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Genetics
  • Changes in mensural cycle
  • PCOD
  • Medications
  • Skin products that increase oiliness in the skin
  • Improper cleaning
  • Excessive production of dead skin cells
  • Tight clothing
  • Exposure to high heat and humidity.

Cystic Acne Treatment

Since cystic acne is deep-rooted in the skin, it can be hard to get rid of them. But for a few lucky ones, it may go away on its own. Whenever you notice a tender bump throbbing, consult a dermatologist. You should avoid touching the bumps as it can lead to complications.

“The first rule of cystic acne treatment is never to pick, prod, or squeeze the bumps. If the acne bursts, it can spread the infection and cause more trouble for you. Also, if not treated with the right treatment plan, cystic acne can leave behind ice pick scars, large pits and indents on your face,” says Dr Kapoor.

Regular acne treatments don’t work on cystic acne. Your dermatologist may recommend the following (depending on your skin type):

  • Oral antibiotics to bring down the infection
  • Benzoyl peroxide cleansers that help kill the bacteria and control the oil. After cleaning your face and applying a light layer of moisturizer, apply a low concentration of benzoyl peroxide on your acne
  • Salicylic acid cleansers help control the oil and gently exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells and help you keep the pores clean. If you have dry skin, then use salicylic acid only on the affected area
  • Vitamin A derivatives, retinoid help to unplug the pores and improve skin cell regenerations
  • Isotretinoin and spironolactone reduce excess oil and help reduce the painful bump
  • Cortisone injections: The hormone injections are injected in the bumps and help reduce redness, inflammation, swelling and pain due to cystic acne
  • Hydrocortisone cream contains low doses of steroids that help reduce the swelling and inflammation.

At Home Treatment

Cystic acne treatment takes times to show its effect. So, try not to stop treatment midway and follow the instructions of your dermatologist. Here’s how you can contribute to the treatment.

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid stress
  • Follow a proper cleansing, toning and moisturizing routine suitable for your skin
  • Apply ice if you feel a new bump forming under the skin (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off). Do this after washing your face
  • Never sleep with your makeup on
  • Use oil-free moisturizers
  • Cystic acne medication can cause dryness, therefore make sure that you always use a sunscreen before stepping out.

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Dr Debraj Shome- Best Plastic, Cosmetic & Oculoplastic Surgeon in Mumbai, India

Dr. Debraj Shome

Best Plastic, Cosmetic & Oculoplastic Surgery in Mumbai, India

Dr. Debraj Shome is Director and Co founder of The Esthetic Clinics. He has been rated amongst the top surgeons in India by multiple agencies. The Esthetic Clinics patients include many international and national celebrities who prefer to opt for facial cosmetic surgery and facial plastic surgery in Mumbai because The Esthetic Clinics has its headquarters there.

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Dr Debraj Shome- Best Plastic, Cosmetic & Oculoplastic Surgeon in Mumbai, India
Dr Debraj Shome- Best Plastic, Cosmetic & Oculoplastic Surgeon in Mumbai, India
Dr Debraj Shome- Best Plastic, Cosmetic & Oculoplastic Surgeon in Mumbai, India
Dr Rinky Kapoor - Best Dermatologist, Skin Specialist Doctor in Mumbai, India
Dr Rinky Kapoor - Best Dermatologist, Skin Specialist Doctor in Mumbai, India
Dr Rinky Kapoor - Best Dermatologist, Skin Specialist Doctor in Mumbai, India

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