When you’re a teenager, it’s not unusual to have a pimple or two. But if you have large, red, and painful breakouts deep in your skin, it could mean you’ve developed something called cystic acne.
These breakouts can be treated. Don’t try to wait them out. Cystic acne can linger for years. It can affect large areas of your skin and leave permanent scars. A dermatologist can help you with a treatment plan.
Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP) is a disease involving inflammation of small blood vessels. It most commonly occurs in children. The inflammation causes blood vessels in the skin, intestines, kidneys, and joints to start leaking. The main symptom is a rash with numerous small bruises, which have a raised appearance, over the legs or buttocks.
Although HSP can affect people at any age, most cases occur in children between the ages of 2 and 11. It is more common in boys than girls. Adults with HSP...
You get a pimple when a pore in your skin gets clogged, usually with dead skin cells. Sometimes bacteria get trapped inside the pore, too, causing the area to become red and swollen.
Cystic acne happens when this infection goes deep into your skin, creating a red, tender bump that's full of pus. It may hurt or itch. If a cyst bursts, the infection can spread, causing more breakouts.
Who Gets It? And Where?
You’re most likely to develop cystic acne in your teens or early 20s. But it can strike someone as young as 8 or as old as 50. Your face, chest, back, upper arms, or shoulders can be affected.
Severe cystic acne is more common in men, but women get it, too. Women often have cysts on the lower half of the face.
What Causes It?
No one is sure of the exact cause, but hormones called androgens play a part. When you’re a teenager, androgens increase. This leads to changes in your skin that can result in clogged pores and acne. In women, hormone changes can be brought on by menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, or a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome.
If one of your parents had severe cystic acne, you have a greater chance of getting it.
How Is It Treated?
Over-the-counter medicines that work on milder acne often have little effect on cystic acne. A dermatologist will likely recommend one or more of the following:
Oral antibiotics help control bacteria and lower inflammation. Sometimes your acne may not respond to antibiotics, though. Or you may find they don’t work as well after a few years.
Birth-control pills help some women by regulating their hormones.
Prescription-strength creams, lotions, or gels with retinoid, a form of vitamin A, can help unplug your pores and help antibiotics do their job.
Isotretinoin, formerly also known by the trade name Accutane, attacks all causes of acne. You take a pill once or twice daily for about 5 months. For most people, this clears the skin completely and permanently. If it recurs, you can repeat the treatment. Women should avoid becoming pregnant while taking this drug.