Understanding Your Cystic Acne and Choosing Safe Ingredients

Imani.PrakashImani.Prakash
May 7
Acne is among the most prevalent skin disorders in the world. It appears on the upper body as lesions that are either non-inflammatory or inflammatory. 
Cystic acne falls into the latter category as one of the most severe types of acne. We discuss what causes these cysts to appear and the symptoms. 
Lastly, we share which ingredients are suitable for cystic acne.
Symptoms of Cystic Acne
Also known as nodulocystic acne, the primary symptom is lesions that grow underneath the surface of the skin. These eruptions contain fluid or pus and are often painful. 
Unlike regular pimples, the cysts don’t always have a head from which pus emerges. However, they can burst if they get large enough. 
Cystic acne is most likely to cause atrophic or indented scarring. One such manifestation is ice-pick scars, so named because the scar is set deep into the skin. 
Cystic Acne Causes 
As with other lesions, whether minor or major, there can be several possible causes. The following issues can all play a role:
1. High Sebum Levels
A factor that increases your risk for acne, in general, is excess sebum production. This natural skin oil is harmless in normal quantities. 
Unfortunately, too much of it can block your pores and result in blemishes. That’s why many anti-acne treatments aim to reduce sebum levels.
2. Bacteria
Bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes exists harmlessly on your skin—unless conditions are favorable for infection to occur. Clogged pores increase the chances of bacteria penetrating the surface of your skin and provoking cysts. 
3. Changing Hormones
Natural hormonal shifts can induce acne. Teenagers and young adults are the most likely victims due to the surge of hormones that occur during puberty.
Pregnant women may also suffer from acne, particularly if they cannot continue prescription treatments that are dangerous to the fetus. 
Menopause can also be a culprit, as levels of the male hormone androgen can increase, prompting acne.
Some women report their blemishes worsening or flaring up right before their menstrual cycle begins. 
4. Hormonal Diseases
As we’ve touched on, hormones can play a significant role in the appearance of acne. In women, it’s a trademark symptom of disorders that elevate male hormone levels.
For example, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is commonly accompanied by acne of varying severity. 
Safe Ingredients for Cystic Acne 
It’s essential to exercise caution when selecting skincare products. The right ingredients can help reduce your lesions and limit new ones from forming.
If you’re already using a prescription topical treatment, take care to check if an over-the-counter cosmetic is compatible with it. You don’t want to end up aggravating your cysts further. 
1. Topical Retinoids
Retinoids are standard when it comes to complexion-clearing products. They’re often prescribed in higher strengths by dermatologists.
These compounds are derived from vitamin A and can work to relieve inflammation with consistent use. 
2. Benzoyl Peroxide 
Benzoyl peroxide is another mainstay acne remedy. It acts as an antimicrobial, which means it can target high bacteria levels that inflame cysts.
It also functions as a thorough cleanser, which can limit the buildup of sebum, dead skin cells, and debris that clog pores. In turn, this should limit the development of new lesions. 
3. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
These organic acids come from either plants or animals. They’re often found in various medical and cosmetic solutions for skin disorders. Alpha hydroxy acids have exfoliating properties and can help to dry out minor eruptions such as pustules. 
AHAs can also work to reduce the appearance of scars, which are a frequent after-effect of cystic acne. 
4. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid has proven effective at reducing the number of lesions, as well as how severe they are. It can penetrate blocked pores and has powerful cleansing properties.
It also acts as an exfoliator, sloughing off dead skin cells and other debris. However, you might require a stronger, prescription concentration to see results with cystic acne. 
5. Natural Extracts
Certain organic compounds, such as plant extracts, can help improve cystic acne lesions. 
One study revealed that a combination of tea tree oil, aloe vera, and bee propolis was more effective than an antibiotic. The natural mixture reduced the number and severity of lesions as well as scarring.
Treating Cystic Acne 
Suitable ingredients for cystic acne shouldn’t be too harsh or oily. Remember that most topical solutions will take time to get results. 
Ideally, you should check with your dermatologist before beginning a new skincare regime. You should also monitor yourself for side effects, such as increased dryness or breakouts. 
It’s also important to identify the cause, whether it be hormonal shifts or something else. Bear in mind that severe cases may require antibiotics or other prescription medications, such as Spironolactone. 
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