If you have acne, you’re not alone. Up to 50 million Americans deal with acne, too, making it the most common chronic skin condition faced by adolescents and adults in the United States.
Although acne usually develops during adolescence when hormonal changes occur, people of any age can struggle with acne. And acne can look and feel different, too, with some people only experiencing mild cases while others have painful lesions.
One of the most serious types is cystic acne. This form causes painful lesions that reach deeper into your skin. It can lead to issues with self-confidence, and in some cases, lifelong scars develop.
If you struggle with cystic acne, you may be wondering why you have it and why it won’t resolve. These are good questions because getting to the bottom of why you have cystic acne is the first step in treating it.
Our dermatology providers at HK Dermatology in San Juan Capistrano, California, have years of experience diagnosing and treating cystic acne. We offer multiple solutions to help clear your skin and reduce your risk of scarring.
While you wait for your appointment, take a moment to learn about cystic acne and why you keep getting it.
What is cystic acne?
Cystic acne is the result of your body attacking infection. It starts when oil and dead skin cells collect inside your hair follicles. These materials block the pores, creating the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria.
These bacteria cause infections. Your skin reacts by triggering the release of white blood cells that fight infection. Eventually, there’s a buildup of pus around the infection, which creates a pimple.
With cystic acne, these pimples create large, fluid-filled bumps under the surface of your skin. In addition to the debris and pus, acne cysts contain blood and can be painful.
This acne is more severe than other forms and can often lead to scarring. Anyone can develop cystic acne, but it’s usually more common among people with very oily skin.
What is causing my cystic acne?
Acne — including cystic acne — often develops in response to an overproduction of sebum. Sebum is the waxy substance your skin needs for protection and lubrication.
For some people, sebum buildup clogs the pores and hair follicles. That creates the inflammation that causes blemishes. But other factors can also play a role in why you can have cystic acne.
Some of the top issues linked to cystic acne are related to your hormones. When you experience changes or imbalances in hormone levels, it affects your skin. Other reasons for cystic acne include the following:
- Certain medications
- High humidity or sweating
- Underlying health conditions (e.g., polycystic ovary syndrome)
Our team reviews your medical history, including any blood work, and performs an exam to determine the causes and triggers of your cystic acne.
Can anything resolve my cystic acne?
Yes, there are options! Based on your exam findings, we create a personalized acne treatment plan suited to your needs.
Regardless of what is causing your cystic acne, the first step is to keep your fingers away from your face or areas with skin blemishes. Touching your acne blocks your pores and hair follicles, making it harder to eliminate the pus and debris contributing to your acne.
Your treatment plan might involve at-home care, like cleaning your skin every night with a gentle cleanser or using a warm compress. These options can open pores and keep your skin clear of excess sebum.
We may also prescribe oral antibiotics or topical gels, which kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. For example, at HK Dermatology, we may recommend Accutane and Retin-A for cystic acne. We have a novel approach to Accutane treatment that greatly minimizes the initial acne purge and side effects experienced by many patients.
Some cystic acne also benefits from in-office treatments, like chemical peels or steroid injections. These treatments reduce the presence of painful and stubborn cysts and promote the healing of your skin tissues.
It can take time to see the results. Some treatments offer noticeable improvements after six weeks, but others can take longer. Plus, acne can change over time, meaning your treatment might change, too. Our team is here to help every step of the way.
If you want to learn more about treatment options for cystic acne, set up an appointment with an acne specialist at HK Dermatology in San Juan Capistrano, California, today.