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 looks (and feels) like. Cystic acne produces large, painful bumps 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 Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Centers, New York City. “They may also leave deep scars.” This type of acne is common in teens, and can run in your family. In adults, it tends to be hormonally driven.
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 Velez, MD, board-certified dermatologist at University of Rochester Medical Center. The cyst should shrink 70 to 90 percent and become a lot less painful within 24 to 48 hours.