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Cystic Acne: What Is It and How Do You Get Rid of It?

Acne is the most common chronic skin condition in the United States, affecting about 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. While acne tends to occur most often during the teen years, anyone can develop acne — even older adults.

Not only is acne common, but it’s also variable. Some people can develop more serious lesions or have more frequent breakouts, while others can have very mild symptoms. Cystic acne is one of the most serious types of acne, causing deep-rooted lesions that can lead to scarring.

Dr. Daphne Panagotacos, in Westlake Village, California, offers customized, effective treatment options for patients with cystic acne. We can help decrease breakouts and reduce the risk of scarring. Here’s what you should know about treating and preventing cystic acne.

The causes of cystic acne

Cystic acne begins like any other type of acne breakout: Oil and dead skin cells collect inside hair follicles, blocking your skin’s pores. Inside the warm pore, acne-causing bacteria multiply, causing an infection. 

Your body responds by sending out white blood cells to battle the bacteria. Over time, pus builds up inside and around the pore, typically causing a sore, red pimple. For people prone to cystic acne, hard nodules — or cysts — can form underneath the skin. Researchers aren’t sure why some people develop cystic acne while others don’t. However, cystic acne appears to be more common among people with very oily skin.

Today, there are lots of treatments available for people suffering from acne, including those with more severe symptoms, such as cystic acne. While milder acne may respond to over-the-counter products, cystic acne typically requires stronger medicines available only by prescription.

Treating cystic acne

There are a number of things you can do to help treat and prevent cystic acne, including the following: 

At-home care

If you have any type of acne, including cystic acne, it’s important to clean your skin every night before bed to remove oil, makeup, and debris that can clog pores. Use a gentle cleanser to avoid irritating your skin or overdrying it, a combination that can increase inflammation and cause your oil glands to produce more oil. Furthermore, warm compresses can be used to soothe inflammation.


Oral antibiotics and topical gels and lotions work by killing bacteria and reducing inflammation. Some products speed up skin turnover to help prevent pores from getting clogged. Oral and topical medicines can be used singly or in combination, depending on your needs. 

In-office treatments

For cystic and hard-to-heal acne, our team offers laser and light treatments designed to destroy the bacteria that cause acne. For stubborn cysts, steroid injections can reduce painful inflammation and promote healing.

Like many other diseases, acne can change over time, and that means your treatment needs can change, too. What’s more, what works for one person might not work for another. Seeing the dermatologist regularly can ensure your treatment remains targeted for your needs.

You can enjoy clearer skin

Acne is tenacious, and it can take some time before you see the results you’re looking for. While many treatment plans can begin to show results in six weeks or so, other treatments can take a bit longer. Our team is experienced in finding just the right combination of treatments to help our patients enjoy clearer skin and greater confidence.

If you have acne, getting treatment as early as possible is the fastest way to get clearer skin. To get started on your custom treatment plan, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Daphne Panagotacos today.

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