What's the difference between cystic acne and regular acne?

What's the difference between cystic acne and regular acne?

Who does acne affect?

Many people suffer with acne—on their face, neck, shoulders, chest, back, upper trunk area, and other areas.  It usually lasts through teenage years, but only for some, during puberty.  Sometimes, people deal with it for other reasons related to hormones such as pregnancy, menopause.  It can also be caused by severely humid climates. 

While acne issue can affect anyone and for a variety of reasons it sometimes affects people more if their ethnicity is more prone to having more oil, compared to other people.  Also, your diet counts.  When you eat poorly: more sugar, less vegetables and higher bad fat content like, trans-fats can cause more issues with gut and skin health to decline. Certain kinds of foods can simply—cause more oil production, like trans fats.

Also, wearing clothing too tight and not wearing breathable fabrics like cotton can cause you to develop acne in different areas of the body.  You can acquire: back breakouts, stomach area, shoulder and other areas of skin.

For the most part, you can bet hormonal issues are high up there on one of the main reasons people develop acne problems.  Also, anyone afflicted with gut problems or autoimmune and other immune system issues can also deal with acne during their lives. Certain viral or bacterial infections can also prompt an acne breakout to begin.

People can be affected by regular acne or something more severe, called, cystic acne.  There are some differences to also be aware of to better understand which kind you have so you can get treatment or figure out which OTC products to use.

What is regular acne?

If you are affected by acne, sometimes it’s only regular acne—while bothersome it isn’t as bad as folks that have severe, cystic acne that can become even more painful and really cause damage and be problematic.  Acne develops when pores become clogged from too much oil and dead skin cells. 

Acne of any kind, can affect people’s demeanor, confidence, and self-esteem.  If you don’t get a handle on it, scratch too much and don’t address it with creams and washes with salicylic acid, witch hazel and other OTC products to reduce acne areas on the face, chest, back and other areas that need assistance.  If you cannot handle it at home, you may need to head to the dermatologist for something stronger such as a prescription ointment, cream or oral medication. 

What is cystic acne?

This is a more severe form of acne and can become quite painful.  Cystic acne occurs when someone develops pimples that are breakouts inside the skin.  This is not just surface material, like regular acne.

These cysts begin to develop and are typically infected, which is why they can be so painful.  They can be very embarrassing, extremely irritating, and look horrific.  The surface of your skin develops hard bumps or nodules.  This kind of acne usually needs more treatment options than just OTC products—but always start with anything at your local drug store, or immediately consult with a dermatologist to see which OTC products are best to try first.

What are the main differences of regular and cystic acne?

Regular acne starts with a variety of issues: blackheads, pimples, whiteheads and papules.  These will show up on the skin surface.  They typically aren’t painful.  They can disappear within days if you use a good OTC recommended product and keep washing your face frequently and keeping it hydrated with a non-oil base, facial lotion. If left untreated they can become problematic.

Sebaceous cysts are under the skin with anyone who has developed cystic acne.  It is typically larger areas on the face and they are painful.  It can be a problem for people that suffer with this kind of acne because it can stay for months at a time and be very difficult to rid of.  This is why people that have it wind up needing stronger, prescription drugs for the problem.  However, there are ways to rid of acne naturally like probiotics, vitamin C and eating healthier that can help reduce these kinds of outbreaks.

The main difference between the two kinds of acne is the fact that when you develop a regular pimple on your face or anywhere—they have a whitehead.  This whitehead is only on the skin surface.  When people have a sebaceous cyst with cystic acne, this isn’t on the surface and becomes more complicated because the sebaceous cyst will not come out. 

How these two types of acne are treated

While each condition is acne, they are different.  Usually your dermatologist try to remind you to unclog your pores, clean the skin and use cleansers, gels, ointments, creams and whatever else they know will benefit your skin condition—especially regular and cystic acne issues.

The majority of acne products all have some amount of salicylic acid in them.  And while all these products claim to work for acne—if you have the more severe form of it, they might not work best for you.  Everything about tackling acne means you must clean your face more, super charging your immune function with the best diet and supplements, exercising, and making sure your skin is clean, exfoliated and addressing pore issues when they appear to be a problem.

Even though regular acne can go away in a matter of days it can also develop from a bacterial infection and this can contribute to having even regular acne.

Acne ridding and reducing items/ways to consider:

  • Creams, ointments and cleansers containing,  salicylic acid
  • Products with a retinoid in them, high vitamin A
  • Products with benzoyl peroxide; Benzoyl peroxide and adapalene
  • Azelaic acid
  • Alpha hydroxy acids
  • Products with witch hazel
  • Products with alcohol
  • Products with tea tree oil
  • Inflammation reducers (used topically and orally) such as MSM (cellular rejuvenation; sulfur based), vitamin C (also improves immune system and can rid of bacteria), These products might be topical or oral and will reduce inflammation on your skin. They will also kill the bacteria, causing your acne
  • Oral antibiotics for cystic acne (a main one prescribed is tetracycline)
  • Accutane which is only found in generic now, Isotretinoin (but has serious side effects which can be life threatening; doctor should monitor liver, pancreas and other issues)
  • Sometimes hormones are the serious issue causing acne, birth control pills can many times help women with severe, cystic acne, or regular acne
  • Steroids to help control inflammation
  • Excisions for cysts
  • Antibiotic topical treatments; ointments
  • Laser treatments
  • Chemical peels
  • Photodynamic therapy

Many times, cystic acne can become so impossible to deal with; you need the dermatologist to drain cysts through doing an excision. They drain the cysts then usually use a steroid injection to lower inflammation caused by the severe breakout.

Remember, when you have acne, any form of it, begin with an OTC product.  Most of these are lower percentages of active ingredients to treat the acne (like benzoyl peroxide), but talk to your doctor to be sure.  If needed, you can always opt for filling a prescription strength acne product or oral medication—but consider the severe side effects some of these oral acne medication have; many are life threatening.  

Treating acne requires the use of different products to see what treatments work best on your own skin condition.  Also, have patience. Acne isn’t an overnight skin care problem—and OTC products will take more time, but they do come with fewer side effects—like extra peeling, dry skin, itching, and other similar issues.

Always remember these tips for your skin care, clean routine:

  • Wash your 2-3 times a day, or as needed if you are prone to getting acne
  • Use cleansing cloths
  • Use only water-based facial products
  • Avoid make-up, lotions, perfumes or deodorants with severe chemical content
  • Don't pick or squeeze blemishes; this can cause scarring or an infection to start 
  • Keep your hair out of your face
  • Protect your skin from the sun
  • Shower regularly and make sure you do after sweating profusely