Cystic or Nodular Acne: Identification, Causes, Symptoms and Best treatments

Those who suffer from cystic acne suffer much more because of the physical appearance that it causes than because of the pain and the other symptoms that it causes, if you are a person who has cystic acne, do not worry, here you will know everything you need so that you know its treatments both medical and natural.

I want you to know everything about cystic acne, because if you neglect it, it can leave terrible marks on your skin , and it is best to prevent them, with some personal care, and advice that I have for you in this article.

What is cystic or nodular acne?

Cystic acne is a skin disease that occurs in the form of pimples larger than hormonal or vulgaris acne, these cystic lesions cause pain, and inside they have accumulations of fluid deep in the skin that can become infected .

Cystic acne is the most severe version of the types of acne and the consequences of this are: the alteration of facial features and scars that are generally difficult to remove , so another consequence is the psychological and social, unfortunately it does that people lose their self-esteem and become socially isolated.

Cystic acne, how is it detected?

Detecting cystic acne is simple since it is severe acne as I mentioned earlier, you will easily differentiate it from comedonic acne because the lesions are greater in quantity and size, and another point to take into account to know if it is acne Cystic is if it causes pain , in case you do not feel pain it may be a common acne papule or pustule, the treatment is different for each case.

Remember that cystic acne can be the product of genetic causes, the obstruction of the pores occurs from the depths of the skin with pus in greater quantity , it develops at puberty and also in adulthood regardless of your gender, it It can be due to hormonal causes as well as external causes such as makeup.

Fighting it is not easy once the cyst is formed, you should consult with your dermatologist, who will give you some recommendations and will prescribe the right and precise medical treatment for your type of acne.

Benzoyl peroxide is the most used to combat cystic acne, surely your dermatologist will prescribe a product with this component, likewise the first recommendation will be: never puncture the pustules because its content comes from the deepest layers of the skin and it will leave scars that are difficult to erase not to mention that it will spread acne.

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Characteristics of cystic or nodular acne

The characteristics of cystic acne are as follows:

  • They appear in adolescence and can last up to twenty years, appearing and disappearing in stages.
  • It mainly affects men , however women with polycystic ovaries and a family history of cystic acne can also suffer from it.
  • Its size is greater than that of any other type of acne.
  • It contains pus in greater quantity from the deepest layer of the skin.
  • It leaves indelible marks on the lesion if it is manipulated or excised.
  • It spreads very easily in the person who suffers from it but it is not contagious.
  • It affects people’s self – esteem .

Causes of cystic acne

Cystic acne appears when the pores become clogged and fill with fat, dead cells and bacteria , which, since they have no way to exit, accumulate internally and penetrate the layers of the skin deeply, giving rise to a comedo and as it grows turns into a pus-filled cyst.

The cause that originates this type of acne, in itself, are all those that cause the obstruction of the pore by an excess of sebum, that is to say that no matter what type of acne it is (hormonal, comedonic, seborrheic, cosmetic) if something stimulates the sebaceous glands these will increase their production of sebum and will block the pores.

The causes then can be the following:

  • Hormonal changes.
  • Stress.
  • Comedogenic cosmetics.
  • Drugs like steroids, estrogens, and testosterone.
  • Environmental factors.
  • Bad nutrition.
  • Poor facial hygiene.
  • Genetic factors.

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Symptoms of cystic or nodular acne

You can present with cystic acne symptoms such as: moderate papules and pustules, greater than twenty lesions, pain and redness , inflammation, fluid retention, sebum, bacteria, dead cells and pus, infection that sometimes causes feverish pictures , cysts are Annoying, you may have scabs and blackheads that accompany cystic nodules.

Cystic acne pathologies

Cystic acne is a serious pathology that leaves people marked for life both physically and psychologically , since the lesions are usually large and painful, and sometimes people who do not suffer from it show a certain rejection for those who do, despite which it is not contagious cystic acne causes depression, social isolation and anxiety .

This skin pathology requires medications that attack acne breakouts but also a lot of emotional support from friends, loved ones and family , since self-esteem will be greatly affected and this disorder worsens if the person is stressed and much more if he refuses to receive the treatments because the sequelae are permanent.

Areas of the body where cystic acne can appear

The areas of the body where cystic acne usually appear are: the face and shoulders mainly, however in the arms, legs and back are places where they appear and really bother because they are part that you must cover with clothing generally.

When the breakouts appear on the back, the discomfort is enough , resting on the back of a chair, or sleeping on your back, is not easy when you have cystic acne since these are painful and with every minimal contact causes a brief but intense pain.

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Cystic acne levels

Cystic acne itself is a severe level of any type of acne, this in turn is divided into three levels: mild, moderate and severe; I will describe each of them below so that you know which one you suffer from and use the appropriate treatment according to its severity.


Mild cystic acne has open and closed comedones accompanied by about five nodules and cysts; The treatment is usually topical, it does not need deep treatments, only prevention and personal care, as well as avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun.


On the other hand, moderate cystic acne has more than ten nodules filled with pus , and the treatment is generally oral antibiotics for more than twelve weeks without interruption to be able to eliminate them completely without leaving scars.


Severe cystic acne presents more than twenty swollen lesions with pus and very painful and antibiotics rarely work, so isotretinopin is one of the most recommended in these cases of severe cystic acne, they are also treated by injecting corticosteroids inside, or they drain it, but these treatments should only be given by the dermatologist.

Women and cystic acne

For women, having cystic acne is almost like the end of the world, it really is an aesthetic and above all emotional problem that affects both young and adult women; In any stage that women go through, be it menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, if you have had an outbreak of cystic acne it could recur in these stages where hormones are altered.

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Do contraceptives cause cystic acne?

This answer could be easy, for many women it would be a yes, and for others a no, this is because oral contraceptives increase female hormones and decrease male hormones that are the cause of cystic acne, this will control the hormonal imbalance with male hormones and therefore acne improves considerably.

Although many women instead of balancing this hormonal imbalance , what it does is unbalance it more only at the beginning of contraceptives, and that is why the body responds, the sebaceous glands are stimulated and the production of excess sebum causes the appearance of acne.

Do men suffer from cystic acne?

Men are the ones who suffer much more cystic acne than women , this condition in them begins at puberty and continues until adulthood because men produce more androgen hormones that cause them to have excess sebum that hinders the exit of the pores, getting trapped inside these, dirt, bacteria and grease.

Men take little care of their face compared to a woman, they do not use different beauty products for hydration, oil, exfoliation, or wrinkles, and that is why each acne breakout can quickly turn cystic , and the worst thing is that spread and become a problem that marks their lives.

In adolescents, is cystic acne normal?

Cystic acne is normal in adolescence, unfortunately these outbreaks are common and ruin the lives of these young people because they appear in different degrees of severity, some only have blackheads and pimples, others have painful and inflamed cystic nodules; This is due to the abrupt hormonal change that they undergo at puberty.

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Pregnancy and cystic or nodular acne

It is very likely that you will have acne during the first trimester of pregnancy, or throughout it , even until the end and after giving birth; This is due to the hormonal changes you are going through , your skin shows it in different ways, there are those who have softer and shinier skin, like others who have acne.

It will vary in degree depending on the woman, because there are women who will only have mild acne and for a few months, but there are others who will develop into severe acne and that is where a few pimples will become cystic. You have to try to keep your skin oil-free so that the pores don’t get clogged.

Babies have cystic acne, why?

It is very unlikely that babies will have cystic acne, however it is well known that in their first days of birth, babies have white pimples that are the product of the obstruction of the pores that occurred thanks to the excessive production of sebum .

This production of sebum in quantities greater than required is caused by the hormones that the mother passed to the baby through the placenta , and for this reason the sebaceous glands increase the production of sebum, but the outbreaks are generally mild, there are no cases of cystic acne in registered babies.

During breastfeeding, can you suffer from cystic acne?

Hormones with an androgenic effect increase with pregnancy and when the baby is born the mother has to feed it; While you do, the hormones will return to normal , however, factors such as lack of sleep and postpartum stress together with the male hormones that are still unbalanced will make you suffer from severe acne, that is, cystic acne.

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Menopause and cystic or nodular acne

If you are at the age where you have left all traces of adolescent acne behind, but from one day to the next they begin to appear already in your 40s or 50s, do not worry, it is perfectly normal, when you enter menopause your Hormone levels change and the increase in testosterone will give you acne that can be small red papules, or even annoying cysts that can leave deep dimple marks.

Stress can cause cystic acne. How? Why?

Stress undoubtedly causes cystic acne since being in stressful situations releases hormones known as cortisol and this stimulates the sebaceous glands that produce large amounts of sebum and causes pimples to appear, these pimples without proper care and with constant stress will quickly turn into cysts .

How does isotretinoin help against cystic acne?

Isotretinoin is the ideal treatment to combat severe cystic acne as it belongs to the retinoids that slow down the production of natural substances that cause acne, such as the production of sebum . Isotretinoin treatment is orally taken with food twice a day for about four to five months.

Menstruation and cystic acne

Menstruation alters and causes hormonal variations that make you suffer from acne these days, these hormones act on the surface of the skin and the sudden reduction in estrogens is what causes menstrual bleeding and the hormonal imbalance that causes acne breakouts, which They may well be papules that turn into painful, pus- filled cystic nodules .

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How does cortisone help against cystic acne?

Cortisone helps against cystic acne as it is a hormone that responds to inflammation, if the cystic lesion is large it can be injected directly into the abscess, it will be reduced almost immediately. The injection can cause temporary adverse effects such as bruising in the area where it was placed.

Cystic acne conglobata? What is it?

Cystic acne conglobata is a higher grade than severe cystic acne since it is much more serious still, it is characterized by the presence of inflamed lesions filled with pus of a size greater than that of all types of acne and the amount is also worrying because it covers almost the entire face, neck, shoulders, abdomen, back, thighs, and even the buttocks.

Pustular cystic acne

Pustular cystic acne is characterized by the appearance of inflamed pustules filled with pus, it generally begins as a harmless comedonic acne and as it evolves they become inflamed pimples with pus inside, they do not usually hurt as much as acne conglobata but it does cause discomfort.

Hormonal acne vs cystic acne

Hormonal acne usually appears at puberty and reappears at each stage of a woman’s life, such as in her menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause and stress. In men, hormonal acne also affects them but less frequently. Breakouts ranging from comedones to inflamed lesions can turn into cystic acne.

On the other hand, cystic acne is a consequence of hormonal acne and other internal and external factors, and even hereditary, it can start as mild acne and turn into severe cystic acne.

What to eat if you have cystic acne

When you have cystic acne, you can have a special diet that will prevent these outbreaks from worsening, for example: do not eat spicy, avoid dairy products, do not drink caffeine or alcohol, eliminate foods high in sugar, no sweets or soft drinks , and less fried foods or junk food.

Instead of that try to eat vegetables, vegetables and fruits, there are a number of these vegetables that contribute to the improvement of the skin, and especially to the healing, necessary for this disease that usually leaves marks, those foods rich in vitamin A and antioxidants among others can be: carrots, spinach, strawberries, lemons and oranges, just to mention a few examples.

Prepare a delicious salad and drink plenty of water, hydration is very important for your body and your skin, even more so if you suffer from cystic acne since dry skin will be much more affected, and excess oil has nothing to do with it. lack of water, the key is to hydrate very well on a daily basis.

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Cystic or nodular acne, is there a cure? What is it?

Cystic acne has a cure like all types of acne with the only difference that, because it is deeper, it can leave marks on the person’s skin that are difficult to erase with simple creams.

The best cure for cystic acne is prevention , as soon as you have the first acne breakouts, you should try as much as possible to prevent it from going from mild to severe, and this is achieved by having good facial hygiene, using appropriate products, and avoiding stress.

When the outbreaks are cysts as such, the cure should be a little stronger, you should treat yourself with antibiotics and creams, these will help you fight bacteria and end the infections that are causing the pus. Another good tip to be able to cure cystic acne is that for nothing in the world you explode a pimple, you will worsen your condition.

Medical treatments for cystic acne

When the dermatologist diagnoses you with cystic acne, he will surely prescribe medical treatments such as; oral or local antibiotics, isotretinoia, and also astringent substances such as benzoyl peroxide and sulfur, also exfoliating substances such as salicylic acid, or any other medicine for topical or oral use, even in combination.

Laser surgery

Laser surgery is very effective against cystic acne, it offers multiple benefits since it is a quite novel solution, laser treatments stop the excessive production of sebum, it also removes pus and does not allow a deep scar to be made as they usually do. leave them other treatments or surgeries.

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With antibiotics

Cystic acne due to having pus in response to an infection responds very well to antibiotic treatments, these reach the blood and complement the external action of bactericidal creams , the most used are: minocycline, doxycycline, tetracycline, and erythromycin.


Cystic acne as said at the beginning of the article can be caused by multiple reasons, and this is why homeopathic treatment is the most effective since it focuses on studying the causes of cystic acne in the person in a particular way , the treatment is quite individualized . and the following medications may be prescribed:  Kalium bromatum, Eugenia jambosa, or Arsenicum bromatum.

Natural treatments to relieve cystic or nodular acne

If you are one of the people who prefer natural treatments, I cannot judge you , they are inexpensive and often effective , you just have to choose the correct one, the one that truly attacks the problem of cystic acne, because it is not to cure it for a day and have breakouts at once. The next day, a natural product can be used as many times as required because it will not cause an overdose, and I will talk about honey as a good and effective example.

How does honey help?

Honey helps against cystic acne since it is an excellent natural product that contains vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and minerals that nourish the skin, clean it and regenerate it , helping you to keep it elastic and free of imperfections caused by cysts.

Cystic acne is the product of clogged pores and they tend to leave scars, with honey you can prevent it, since it favors facial cleansing and accelerates the healing caused by nodules.

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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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