Zits 101: How to Tell if you Have Cystic Acne and Ways to Get Rid of it

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Real talk for a second, ladies: Most of us are no strangers to acne. Even though pimples are the ugliest little nasties that will ever grace our faces, they eventually will disappear with some patience and a lot of cleansing. That being said, there are more severe types of acne that can live on our faces for much longer than a few days, and they're much harder to get rid of.

Cystic acne are the types of big, red zits that often feel swollen or painful. Because cystic acne doesn't come to a head, it's extremely hard to get rid of and can last on your face for years at a time if not treated.

How do you tell that you may have cystic acne and what's more, how do you get rid of it? We're giving you the low-down on these devilish pimples and all you can do to clear out your face.

What Is it?

Like regular acne, cystic acne is usually caused when dead skin and bacteria get caught in your pores. If the infection gets deep enough into your skin, a large red bump tender to the touch can develop. Because this sort of acne penetrates deep into the skin, it doesn't clear out as easily as regular acne. Woman squeezing pimpleWho Gets it?
According to Web MD, cystic acne tends to develop around your teens or your early 20s, but there really isn't an age limit to when you can start getting it. Although we don't know what causes it, an increase in hormones that happen during puberty (everyone's favorite time) causes changes in the skin that make pores more likely to clog. There's also a chance that cystic acne can be hereditary, so if mom or dad were sufferers back in the day, be sure to talk to your dermatologist.

How to Get Rid of it?

Like we said, it's not easy getting rid of cystic acne, but Allure has some suggestions to try before heading to the dermatologist. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City says to dis your usual acne cleanser and opt for an exfoliant that has salicylic cleanser which can help get rid of excess oil on your skin.

Next, Joshua suggests taking a cold compress and holding it against the zit. "Ice-cold temperatures help constrict blood vessels, so wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and hold it against the bump to reduce redness and bring down the swelling a bit," he said.

To have this work best, apply the ice after washing your face with the salicylic acid and ice your face in ten-minute intervals three times each hour.
Beautiful woman cleansing her templeIn order to get rid of excess bacteria that could be making matters worse, Joshua says benzoyl peroxide is your best bet. But be careful when using this ingredient; before applying it to the skin, add some moisturizer and then take the lowest concentration of benzoyl peroxide you can find and only apply it to the zit. Use a very small amount because too much may actually burn your skin and if you feel a burning sensation wash it off immediately.

For combating redness, Joshua says that OTC hydrocortisone cream contains a small enough dose of steroids to help reduce swelling and redness.

What Your Derm Can Do

If the acne persists despite you taking steps to remove it, you're going to need to see your dermatologist. Depending on how bad the acne is, your doctor may either prescribe you antibiotics to help stop the spread of bacteria or prescribe a lotion or gel with retinoid to unclog your pores. For us ladies, doctors may even prescribe birth control in order to regulate hormones and prevent future break outs.

Accutane has also become a popular treatment for cystic acne. Coming in pill-form, Accutane is a medication you take once or twice a day for five months to help clear your skin completely and permanently. But if you want to avoid possible side-effects associated with Accutane, your derm may give you cortisone shot to get rid of the bacteria deep within the zit.

With cystic acne the #struggle is real, but don't panic! There are ways to get rid of unsightly and stubborn blemishes no matter how dramatically it seems to effect your face. Your derm's got you, girl.


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