Cystic acne is an inflammatory condition that creates acne bumps deep under the skin. These bumps appear on the skin’s surface as large lumps, and they are often tender and/or painful. This type of acne is noticeably different from the more common and recognizable conditions, like whiteheads and blackheads, because it occurs deeper in the skin. As a result, the cysts never bulge into a “poppable” head. While cystic acne is typically found on the face, it can also appear on the back, chest, shoulders, and upper arms.
This type of acne very likely to cause scarring. Failure to treat the bump can lead to additional inflammation, which can damage surrounding skin cells, resulting in a dark spot. It can take months or years to disappear, or the dark spots can become permanent. If you suspect you have cystic acne, an appointment with one of our Chesterfield dermatologists is the best way to treat the condition and prevent possibly permanent damage.
As with most types of acne, determining the exact cause can be difficult. These bumps usually develop when the contents of blackheads and/or whiteheads spill into the surrounding areas of the skin. The body perceives this spread to be an attack, and the immune system produces pus to fight it, creating inflammation.
Cystic acne is caused by acne vulgaris, or the same type of acne that leads to whiteheads and blackheads. Triggered by hormonal changes, such as menstruation, acne vulgaris causes oil glands to overproduce. These glands can then become swollen with excess oil, which then hardens into a cyst. This acne tends to affect the chin and jawline more than any other part of the body, as this area has a high concentration of oil glands.
Unlike other manifestations of acne vulgaris, cystic acne almost always requires professional treatment. Over-the-counter products do not work for deep cysts and nodules because their ingredients, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, shed excess sebum and dead skin cells only on the surface. Prescription-strength topical acne medications, oral antibiotics, and other medications, like isotretinoin, are most effective at treating deep acne, but they all require a visit to the doctor. Our Chesterfield clinic is equipped to work with you on a treatment plan that fits both your breakout and lifestyle.
Cystic acne is among the worst forms, but there are other types of acne lesions which may appear as part of the same outbreak. Nodular acne also develops deep in the skin and is often mistaken as cysts, for example. Cystic acne appears as large, red boils, which can burst open, leading to infection. Acne cysts are filled with pus, which means they are often softer than nodules, and they typically last for around one month without treatment. By contrast, acne nodules will remain intact under the skin’s surface, and they may be skin toned. Nodular acne can persist for weeks or months without treatment. Whether cystic, nodular, or some combination of the two, a visit to the dermatologist is the only way to get the treatment you need.
Cysts struggle to heal themselves over time. A dermatologist is also essential for limiting potential scarring, which is a common result of cystic acne. Our Chesterfield dermatologists can work with you to find a treatment that works, then recommend additional options to limit scarring. This may include chemical peels, laser therapy, and blue light therapy.
Don’t hesitate to schedule a visit. This skin condition can be both socially and physically painful, and getting proper treatment can significantly expedite healing.
Contact us to schedule an appointment to get the best acne treatment plan for you.