Cystic acne­ – signs, symptoms, causes and other factors

Cystic acne­

The most severe form of acne is the cystic acne. The acne is a very common problem and the cystic acne is not so common problem. When you have cystic acne, then you should know that this problem is not caused by greasy foods, nuts, chocolate, masturbation or poor hygiene. The hormonal change in puberty is the most common cause for cystic acne [1]. But also older people can have cystic acne. They are painful and also they can cause emotional distress because they are making bad effects for our facial appearance. This kind of skin problem is easy to be diagnosed and does not need any kind of special test for it’s diagnose. In the most cases when people are suffering from cystic acne, then their doctors are recommending oral medications. But you should not take any kind of medication without talking with your doctor because they can cause you some side effects. In this condition your pores are becoming blocked which leads to infection and in some cases also there are chances getting an inflammation. In the most cases this condition is affecting our faces but also it can affect our upper arms and upper trunk. The “pilosebaceous units” is the medical term for the pores of the skin and in this term are included the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands which are accompanying them. These glands are secreting oily substances which are known as sebum. When we have normal production of sebum, then they can protect our skin and hair follicles. When we have overgrowth of skin cells and overproduction of sebum then this condition leads to plugged pores (they are plugged with sebum) and also there is epidermal cells shed from our skin.

Signs and symptoms of cystic acne

We have all seen faces that are affected and almost every single person in some point of its life is affected with this condition. When we have cystic acne, then they are more visible compared to acne because this is a more severe form which is producing nodules and cysts in addition to many other pustules and papules. Also this condition can cause scarring that is a visible a lot. No matter what kind of acne you have you can have decreased self – esteem and in many cases you will feel bad for yourself. Also there are studies in which is shown that people who have cystic acne have bigger physical distress compared to people who have another kind of acne. This condition is affecting the young adults at the most and we know that they are more sensitive to their physical appearance compared to other groups of people. When we suffer from cystic acne, then our doctors need to discover the real cause for this condition and to give the right treatment for the underlying condition. Also this condition can cause you long – term damages which you can see in different forms such as

  • Red and raised scars which are also known as hypertrophic scarring
  • Shallow depressions
  • Larger pits
  • Ice pick scars which are small and deep pits

Cystic acne­Causes for cystic acne

Acne is a skin condition in which there is a blockage of our skin pores which is a result from the overproduction of sebum or of skin cells which is in a combination of the inflammation that is triggered from bacteria known as P. acnes. The most inflamed and ruptured form of the comedones is the cyst. The hormonal change in the adolescent teenage years is the most common cause for the acne. When we are in our puberty period the levels of the circulating androgen hormones are increased a lot which leads to greater proliferation of skin cells and increased sebum production. There are some causes which lead to acne such as

  • High levels of humidity and sweating [2]
  • Occlusive, greasy cosmetics, cleansers, lotions and clothing [3]
  • Some drugs and chemicals (for example, corticosteroids, lithium, phenytoin, isoniazid) which may worsen or cause eruptions that are similar to acne [2]
  • Hormonal changes – related to puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, birth control, the use of hormone therapy and stress [1]

Acne and cystic acne are not caused by

  • Masturbation or sex
  • Poor hygiene or inadequate face washing [4]
  • Most other dietary choices [4]
  • Chocolate, nuts or greasy foods [5,6]


[1] Elsaie ML. Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. 2016;9:241–8.

[2] Tan AU, Schlosser BJ, Paller AS. A review of diagnosis and treatment of acne in adult female patients. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology. 2018;4(2):56–71.

[3] Heng AHS, Chew FT. Systematic review of the epidemiology of acne vulgaris. Scientific Reports. 2020.

[4] Fabbrocini G, Cacciapuoti S, Monfrecola G. A qualitative investigation of the impact of acne on health-related quality of life (HRQL): Development of a conceptual model. Dermatology and Therapy. 2018;8(1):85–99.

[5] Pappas A. The relationship of diet and acne: A review. Dermato Endocrinology. 2009;1(5):262–7.

[6] Kucharska A, Szmurło A, Sińska B. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology. 2016;33(2):81–6.


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