Home Treatment for Acne Cysts
The American Academy of Dermatology characterizes acne cysts as a severe form of acne. Often referred to as nodulocystic acne, it manifests as pus-filled, almost boil-like lesions along the face, neck, chest, shoulder or back. They may even develop within the scalp. Nodulocystic acne isn't as common as other forms of acne. But when it does develop, it often results in scarring and can progress into acne conglobata, another severe form of acne that results in deep abscesses and ulcers along affected areas of the skin. This makes proper treatment important in preventing permanent skin damage.
Due to the severity of the acne, standard treatments aren't usually beneficial. The topical application of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, resorcinol and even retinoids, such as tretinoin, adapalene and tazarotene, aren't normally strong enough to reduce the deep inflammation, kill the bacteria or break up the follicular obstructions causing the acne. More aggressive forms of home treatment are necessary to help heal the lesions and minimize scarring.
Dermatologists often rely on a combination of medications. One of the more common is isotretinoin, an oral retinoid derived from vitamin A. It's usually used in conjunction with an antibiotic, such as erythromycin or clindamycin, to help clear the skin. These drugs are only available by prescription, but taken at home with meals. Injections of corticosteroids directly into the acne lesions are also used to clear acne cysts, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. They essentially melt the cyst associated with nodulocystic acne.
The Mayo Clinic explains that dosages vary from person to person, depending on body weight. Anyone over the age of 12 receives between 0.5 and 1 mg of isotretinoin per kg of body weight. The dosage is usually divided in half to be taken twice in a single day. Antibiotics and corticosteroid injections also vary from person to person.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, isotretinoin is prescribed for a 20-week course of treatment. At the onset of treatment, dosages are usually less and may then be increased as the body acclimates to the medication. The low dosage may also be given throughout the entirety of treatment. With corticosteroid injections, the cysts often subside in a matter of three to five days.
Much like other prescription medications, isotretinoin isn't without its potential side effects. This includes bone pain, nosebleeds, rash, skin infection and swelling of the lips. It may also cause inflammation of the eyes, resulting in dryness, itching and burning. Antibiotics can encourage bacterial resistance, especially from prolonged use. This means that antibiotics become less effective in subsequent treatments.
Isotretinoin shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, warns the Mayo Clinic. It could cause serious birth defects. The American Academy of Dermatology also cautions against draining cysts at home. Any draining of the cysts should only be done by a doctor or dermatologist.
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