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Cystic Acne: What Is It, and Is There a Cure?

If you or someone you know struggles with cystic acne, it’s finally time to take matters into your own hands and find a long-term solution to this embarrassing skin disorder.

We’ve all had a breakout or two in our lives, but have you ever had to deal with a swollen cyst or lesion in your skin that is painful to the touch and difficult to treat? If so, you may be a sufferer of cystic acne, which is the most excruciating and severe type of acne out there.

What Is Cystic Acne?

Cystic acne is also called nodulocystic acne[1], and it is the most intense type of acne that can affect the skin. It is characterized by hard and inflamed cysts or lesions in the complexion or other parts of the body. Although you may have heard the term “cystic acne” used to describe larger breakouts, it truly only refers to legitimate cysts that form in the skin, growing from a simple pimple or blemish. This means that the acne cysts are filled with fluid, and they can become increasingly painful, swollen, and embarrassing.

It’s possible for any man or woman to have cystic acne, but it’s especially common in teenage boys, often triggered by surges of hormones in puberty. In these circumstances, cystic acne will occur because of over-productive oil glands during puberty, which mix with excess dead skin cells in the complexion to form large cystic pimples filled with fluid. This is further exacerbated by the P. acnes bacteria on the skin that will create a very painful and inflamed infection around each cyst.

What Triggers Cystic Acne?

On top of being highly embarrassing, cystic acne is painful and can cause long-term damage to the delicate and healthy tissue of the skin. This means that sufferers of cystic acne are highly at risk for long-term acne scarring, resulting in pock marks and hyperpigmentation in the skin. This is made even worse by picking or popping these cysts since it will leave a deep and obvious indentation in the complexion. So what is a cystic acne sufferer to do?

Firstly, it is so important to know your enemy by finding out exactly what triggers your cystic acne. The diet definitely plays a role in triggering acne, especially if you commonly eat fried foods like french fries, donuts, fried chicken, and onion rings, as well as foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates. Remember, you are what you eat, so there is no escaping the fact that loading your body up with unhealthy fats and an overload of sugar and carbohydrates will cause an obvious effect in the state and quality of your skin. This, in turn, can make inflamed cystic acne lesions even worse.

Here are what a few acne sufferers from the forum had to say:

“I’m 23 and have had moderately severe acne since I was 12. My face was usually running the whole spectrum of painful cysts to blackheads and whiteheads. I’m a stubborn person and when I got a regimen or a medication I stuck to it and followed doctor’s orders. I’m proud to say that my acne was not due to a lack of will and execution on my part. The problem is that I wasn’t being treated for the underlying cause…which I’m sure many of you can relate to.”

“My acne is similar in that it is hormonal, but the direct cause of my hormonal imbalance is too much sugar consumption (which i am most definitely guilty of) and so i have to cut out CANDY and other delicious refined sugary products from my diet, as well as refined carbs but i never ate those anyway. So we shall see if I’ve found my trigger too!”

“My skin was at its best when i wasn’t using any products and when i was eating healthy (i remember i diligently drank green tea, at least a litre and a half, whether it was hot green tea or arizona green tea and honey, etc) and i always ate an apple a day lol.. so clichéd, but it did keep the doctor away .. for a few months anyways.”

As you can see, many sufferers of severe cystic acne have struggled to constantly keep it under control and have also found much-needed relief by altering their diet. That’s definitely some “food for thought”…

On top of that, painful cysts can be triggered by physical or emotional stress[2], harmful chemicals in skin care products, and even neglecting to moisturize. As an overall tip, if you are struggling with oily and acne-prone skin, it is important to cleanse your skin daily with a product that contains glycolic or salicylic acid, followed by an oil-free moisturizer. Yes, it may seem like you’re actually making the problem worse if you apply a moisturizer to your oily and acne-prone skin, but even oily skin can dry out from a lack of moisture and produce even more oil as a result. This will leave you even worse off than you started with a greater risk for cystic acne breakouts!

So What Is the Solution for Your Cystic Acne?

If you’re sick of struggling with painful and swollen cysts caused by acne, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and begin transforming your skin from the inside out. Yes, you can take control by minimizing many of the triggers that I mentioned above, like reducing stress, using natural skin care products, and cleansing and moisturizing your skin twice daily, but the only way to repair and restore your skin in the long term is by dramatically changing your diet and cutting out unhealthy foods that trigger inflammation and cystic acne in your skin.

There’s more you should know. . .

Cystic acne & it’s relationship to diet only touches the surface of what you should know about this debilitating disease that we’ve all grown to hate. Here at Focus:Acne, we have started an information revolution – where we put all misconceptions aside, and inform the “motivated-to-cure” on the true nature of this disease. Stop buying acne medications, stop visiting the dermatologist, and simply enter your name and e-mail below – it’s time to be inspired and officially put acne in the past…


  1. Palmer, Angela. “Cystic Acne – Understanding Cystic Acne.” Acne – Acne Causes and Acne Treatments. 30 July 2009. Web. 30 Dec. 2010. <>.
  2. “Causes Of Cystic Acne.” Quick Care’s Self-Care Advisory. Web. 30 Dec. 2010. <>.

About the Author: Bethany Ramos is an aesthetician and makeup artist with a special interest in using nutrition to heal and alleviate a number of conditions in the skin. You can find out more skin care and makeup tips by visiting her blog at FacebyBethany.

FOCUS! Your Ultimate Guide to Clear Skin

FOCUS! Your Ultimate Guide to Clear Skin

Are you ready to throw away those nasty chemical lotions and creams… never pay for another expensive, worthless prescription ever again… and discover the “hushed up” truth about so-called acne cures and the 100% natural secret that’s WAY MORE POWERFUL?



ive had cystic acne since has aggrevated me all my has mentally drained me! im amde bad choices in my because of it!i still become antisocial when i have a breakout!!i just want to not worry about my face and concentrate on enjoying life!

I completely understand your pain. Especially with a case like cystic acne, it seems no matter how hard we try, we cannot see past the mental and physical pain. The only way out of it is to fully heal your acne, and a good thing is that no matter how bad your acne really is, it can be cured through the very same method that would cure a mild case – it only takes more time.

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