What can I do About Cystic Acne?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2019
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Cystic acne is a particularly severe form of acne marked by swollen, painful, pus filled boils on the skin. These infected boils can cause severe scarring in addition to looking unsightly and being uncomfortable. There are a number of treatment options for cystic acne, and most of them are only available through prescription. People who believe that they are suffering from cystic acne should see a dermatologist.

Acne is caused by a blockage of the follicles in the skin which creates small boils also known as pimples or zits. The classic acne rash is considered to be unsightly and embarrassing by many people. The blockage is produced through an over-production of skin oil which is often associated with puberty. As a result, most treatments focus on keeping skin clean and reducing oil production. In many cases, acne will also go away over time, although cystic acne may leave pits or scars if it is not treated.

A dermatologist can examine the skin and determine that the condition is, in fact, cystic acne. After discussing the patient's unique situation, the dermatologist can recommend a course of action which may include prescription medications, changes in diet, and a skin care regimen which is designed to stop the problem and reduce scarring. Since most of the treatments for cystic acne are only available through prescription, you will need to see a dermatologist eventually, and it is better to catch the condition early, before it is allowed to progress.


One of the first things patients can do to reduce acne of any kind is to wash the affected area with a mild anti-bacterial soap, and to keep it clean and dry. A doctor may prescribe a more intensive topical antibiotic to treat cystic acne, or switch to an internally taken antibiotic to address the problem. Corticosteroids may also be used to cut down on oil production. In addition, a dermatologist may recommend particular skin care products to treat your specific acne and skin type.

Specific medications such as Isotrentinoin, also known as Accutane, may be prescribed. While this medication is highly effective, it comes with severe side effects, including a tendency to depress patients who take it and the risk of severe birth defects. Patients who choose this option to treat cystic acne should plan on being carefully monitored for the period that they take it. There are also surgical options for severe cystic acne. All of these options should be discussed with a medical professional to determine the best course of action.


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Post 4

My doctor used tetracycline as a cystic acne remedy, and it worked better than anything I had ever tried. It took about six months for my face to fully clear up, but I was just so glad and surprised that it finally did.

I had to get chemical peels done in the office twice a month. The doctor drained a few of the bigger cysts each time I went, and he told me to just stay on the antibiotic.

I had a topical gel to apply every night, and I'm sure that helped out some. I really believe that the tetracycline is what did most of the healing.

Post 3

I waited for years to see a dermatologist about my cystic acne, and that made the treatment take much longer. I spent about six months going in for visits and using the drugs the doctor gave me, and I probably would have had a much shorter treatment time if I had been able to go in years ago.

However, I just could not afford it at the time. I had to wait until I had health insurance to help me cover the costs of going for frequent visits.

The insurance paid for everything except my cystic acne antibiotic ointment. That cost $100 a tube, but thankfully, I only needed one large tube to get the job done.

Post 2

@seag47 - When my dermatologist said he was going to do surgery as a form of cystic acne treatment, I envisioned being put under anesthesia and having chunks of my face cut out. He was referring to something much more minor, though.

He stuck a needle inside one of my cysts as I lay on the table. Then, he stuck his thumbs around it and squeezed from as deep down as he possibly could.

Apparently, this is what they call “incision and drainage,” and they also refer to it as surgery. This has got to be my favorite kind of surgery, because it was over in seconds, and I didn't have to lay in bed to recover!

Post 1

What is involved with cystic acne surgery? I need to have a doctor remove my cystic acne, but surgery sounds scary.

Does this mean that they actually go in and cut out the cyst? Do they have to scoop and scrape, or do they use a laser?

I am terrified of going under the knife, but I am desperate to get rid of this acne. If surgery is what it takes, then I'll do it. I'd just like to know what to expect before I agree to it.

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