Most of us have had a bout of acne at some point, but sebaceous cyst acne can be much more intense and long-lasting, as well as posing a different set of problems. Read on to find out how you can recognize and treat cystic acne.
All types of acne are caused by the same thing: increased sebum, or oil, resulting in a clogged pore or hair follicle. This can manifest as the dreaded pimple or pustule -- a pimple with pus on the top. Sometimes excess sebum can combine with dead skin cells, resulting in whiteheads (closed, clogged pores) or blackheads (open, clogged pores.) Usually, these issues are resolved within a few weeks at most.
Sebaceous cyst acne is triggered by the same issue -- excess sebum -- but shows up differently. When whiteheads or blackheads erupt deep within the skin rather than on the surface, cystic acne can result. Large, painful lumps form underneath the topmost layers of skin -- usually on the face, neck, back, chest, or arms. These lumps are either nodules or cysts. Nodules appear flesh-colored or reddish, are very sensitive, and feel hard to the touch. Cysts resemble boils and can be quite large. These lumps can often last for months and may cause scarring.
While simple lifestyle changes are probably not enough to curb severe sebaceous cyst acne, there are some things that can help slow the body’s production of sebum. In some milder cases, these changes are enough to stop cystic acne. For one, steer clear of high-glycemic foods, which are loaded with refined sugars and carbohydrates. When blood sugar rises and inflammation occurs, excess sebum production results.
Cleanse and moisturize your skin frequently with high-quality products that are formulated for your skin type. Make sure any of your cosmetics are labeled “non-comedogenic,” meaning they won’t clog your pores. Avoid touching your face as much as possible, except with an oil blotter, and wash your pillowcases every 1-2 days.
When it comes to dermatological treatments for cystic acne, over-the-counter topical medicines are available. These might contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, but you may need to experiment as you don’t want to use any products that will further inflame the skin.
If a cyst is infected, you may need a dermatologist to drain the cyst and inject steroidal medication to treat the underlying infection. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic like tetracycline. Ongoing issues with sebaceous cyst acne can sometimes be solved with hormonal birth control for females, or a strong prescription medication like Isotretinoin.
Scarring from sebaceous cyst acne can be treated with dermal fillers or Botox injections, resurfacing or microneedling treatments, or other minor dermatological surgeries like punch excision or subcision.
If you’re currently living with sebaceous cysts or want to minimize scarring from past bouts of cystic acne, give Vanguard Dermatology a call. Our experts serve the greater New York City area and have helped thousands of patients effectively treat their acne.