Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is one of the most severe forms of the bacteria p. acnes. This type of acne causes painful, pus-filled cysts that can be much more challenging to treat than the standard pimples and whiteheads that make up the majority of acne breakouts. In addition to the physical discomfort of cystic acne, those with this condition must deal with the embarrassment of its appearance. Cystic acne is much harder to disguise under makeup and can be a great detriment to one's self esteem. While there is no cure for cystic acne at this time, there are effective treatments that can minimize painful breakouts and keep future bouts from occurring.

Causes of Cystic Acne

Cystic acne appears for the same reasons as other types of acne conditions. Overactive oil glands produce more oil and excessive dead skin cells begin to clog follicles. This is the perfect breeding ground for the p. acnes bacteria; the primary culprit in acne breakouts. When the follicle ruptures, the infected material leaks just under the surface of the skin, causing red, inflamed bumps and painful cysts. Papules are the most common type of acne breakout, consisting of the painless red bumps and occasional whiteheads. When the papules fill with pus and become enlarged to five millimeters across or more, cystic acne is the diagnosis.

Diagnosing Cystic Acne

Because cystic acne is considered a severe acne condition, it is best to see a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. A dermatologist can make a diagnosis of cystic acne by a visual exam, and then the discussion can begin as to what type of treatment will work the best. It is important to note that patients respond to acne treatments very differently, so in many cases, it is a process of trial and error to find the treatment program that works best for each individual.

Treating Cystic Acne

Most patients cannot treat cystic acne on their own, since the severity of the breakouts is generally too much for over the counter products. In fact, some patients can actually exacerbate the condition by cleansing too frequently and irritating the skin. It is best to work with a dermatologist who is experienced in treating cystic acne to ensure the best results.

Treatment may include the use of oral antibiotics that will attack the p. acnes bacteria or Accutane, which has proven effective in treating many different types of acne. Accutane has some serious side effects, such as birth defects in the babies of women who become pregnant while on the medication. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of any medication with a doctor before deciding to take it as an acne treatment. In some cases, more aggressive treatment may be needed. Doctors can use surgical excision to extract the infected material or corticosteroid injections to shrink the size of the blemish and reduce inflammation.

Cystic acne is a painful and embarrassing condition for many. Fortunately, there are treatment options available. If you are dealing with this severe acne condition talk to your doctor about choices in treatment.