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The Best Way to Treat Cystic Acne

The Best Way to Treat Cystic Acne The Best Way to Treat Cystic Acne The Best Way to Treat Cystic Acne

Acne is a common problem that for most people remains mild with blackheads, whiteheads and the occasional pustule or papule. Unfortunately, for some people acne can progress quickly into more inflammatory cases including the formation of acne cysts. An acne cyst occurs when bacteria multiply inside an acne lesion, activating the immune system and causing pus buildup and severe swelling. If left untreated, cystic acne can burst, resulting in acne scarring. When approaching cystic acne, there are several treatment options that your doctor may recommend.


Antibiotics are a common prescription treatment option for cystic acne. Antibiotics, such as erythromycin, minocycline, tetracycline. and doxycline can be taken orally to kill off the acne-related bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes, in the acne lesion. Once the bacteria are reduced, the inflammation of the cyst can subside.


For women, oral contraceptives may be option for treating some cases of cystic acne. One main contributing factor to acne formation is overactive sebacious glands, which provide the sebum needed to form acne plugs. While contraceptives are more commonly used to prevent pregnancy, they also naturally help reduce the production of sebum by the sebacious glands, reducing problems with cystic acne.


Isotretinoin is another option for treating serious cases of cystic acne. This oral retinoid is the only treatment option that addresses all four major causes of acne, states the American Academy of Dermatology, including inflammation, clogged pores, excess oil production and the P. acnes bacteria. Isotretinoin is not suitable for use by everyone, and should not be used by women who are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant. In fact, the potential side effects to a fetus are so serious that the Food and Drug Administration has created the iPLEDGE program to help control how and who can take the drug.


Corticosteroids are often used to help reduce the severity of inflammation associated with cystic acne. During this treatment your doctor will inject a watered down version of these steroids into the acne lesion, which according to the American Academy of Dermatology, will reduce inflammation and melt the cyst down over a period of three to five days.

Surgical Drainage

For cystic acne that has not responded to any other treatment, your doctor may recommend surgically draining the acne lesion. During the procedure your doctor will puncture the lesion allowing the pus to drain out. Reducing the pus will lower the pressure and inflammation, helping the acne cyst to heal.

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