All the beauty treatments and over-the-counter creams in the world won’t help with the large, painful, sometimes hardened bumps that characterize cystic acne. Here’s a look at the dermatologist-approved treatments that will.
What is cystic acne?
You may not be familiar with the term cystic acne, but almost everyone over the age of 13 is familiar with what it is. Large, painful bumps you sometimes get on your face that feel like they’re rooted deep in the core of your skin. “These bumps can linger under the surface for weeks or even months and can eventually harden,” explains Engelman, board certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Centers. “They may also leave deep scars.” This type of acne is common in teens, and can run in your family. With adult acne, in particular, it tends to be hormonally driven. This is what the acne on every part of your body is trying to tell you.
If you find yourself with a cyst, whatever you do, don’t prod, poke or attempt to pop it—as that is most likely to lead to scarring. If you have an important event and need a quick solution, call your dermatologist and make an appointment for a cortisone injection. “Cortisone is a steroid that is injected directly into the cystic acne to calm the inflammation and help it resolve more quickly, thus minimizing the risk of scarring,” explains Mara Weinstein, board certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group. The cyst should shrink (up to 90%) and become a lot less painful and noticeable within 24-48 hours.
Isolaz is an in-office treatment done weekly or bi-monthly. “It combines suction, to empty blocked pores, with intense pulsed light, to kill P. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne,” explains Kenneth Howe, board certified dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology. The procedure offers the bacteria-killing effects of an antibiotic (but without the potential side effects of oral medications) and is highly effective against all types of acne, from blackheads to inflamed cysts. Good news: Patients usually see their acne start to clear after three treatments. Bad news: This treatment isn’t covered by insurance. Make sure you don’t believe these myths about adult acne.