Did you know that not treating your cystic acne can result in deep acne scars? One of the most severe types of acne, cystic acne can be a troublesome affair if left on its own.
Treating these painful red bumps with OTC medicines and creams may provide quick relief, but will not prevent their reappearance. This is why Ayurveda advises the use of powerful herbal medication that does not superficially treat the condition.
Scroll down to know the best ways to cure your cystic acne and prevent them from coming back.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Suryanamaskars help balance the Kapha dosha in the body, maintain healthy insulin levels and prevent hormonal triggers of acne.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Is Cystic Acne?
Cystic Acne  is one of the most severe types of Acne Vulgaris that causes painful, pus-filled cysts to occur in the affected area. Cystic acne is often referred to as ‘blind pimples’, as they lie underneath your skin and rarely come to a head.
According to the natural science of Ayurveda, among the three doshas or life energies that govern body functions, an aggravation of the kapha dosha can lead to the formation of cystic acne. Referred to as Yuvana pidaka in Ayurveda, cystic acne is grouped under Kustha doshas and treated with anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and blood-purifying medicinal herbs.
Though cystic acne often appears during puberty and clears out as one ages, it may occur in women experiencing hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, menstruation and menopause.
Recent studies show that cystic acne is more prevalent among adult men and women who smoke regularly. 
What Causes Cystic Acne?
“People who have dominant Kapha Pitta dosha tend to develop cystic acne. Hormonal triggers along with a diet rich in kapha foods like milk, curds, and oily foods can trigger cystic acne,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic doctor at Vedix.
One of the major causes of cystic acne is the fluctuation of hormones in the body. An increase of androgen hormones can stimulate your sebaceous glands into overproducing sebum, an oily substance that moisturizes your skin and hair. This excess sebum along with dead keratin flakes (dead skin cells) and dirt can clog your skin pores leading to comedonal acne (whiteheads and blackheads).
When naturally occurring bacteria on your skin, Propionibacterium acne, gets trapped within a clogged pore and begins to proliferate, it causes infection. With the detection of infection, your immune system quickly responds with localised inflammation and sends white blood cells to fight the infection. This leads to the formation of pus inside the skin pore. The pus inside cystic acne gets trapped by layers of dead skin above it due to which these acne lesions rarely come to a head.
Often enzymes released by these white blood cells can rupture the wall of the follicle thus spreading the infection to the nearby areas. This can cause large cystic acne which involves more than one pore.
Listed below are few other conditions that may influence the occurrence of cystic acne.
Hot, humid weather can trigger excess production of sebum and sweat as a natural cooling mechanism of your body.
2. Acnegenic Cosmetics
Check your skin type before choosing your cosmetics. Skincare and make-up products that have an oil base can increase chances of acne formation, especially in oily skin. It is always advisable to choose non-comedogenic products that are light in nature and do not clog your pores.
Research claims that genes may play a role in your acne condition. If a family member has cystic acne, then you are likely to be more susceptible to developing the condition.
4. Medicine Side Effects
Certain medicines can interfere with your hormone levels and cause an acne breakout . These include lithium, halogens, antiepileptics, and oral corticosteroids.
What Does Cystic Acne Look Like?
Cystic acne is often the largest among other acne vulgaris conditions. They look like large, hardened, red, boil-like lumps on the skin. Usually covered with layers of dead skin, cystic acne does not come to the head.
Where Does Cystic Acne Appear?
Cystic acne commonly occurs in the oily sections of your skin such as the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. It can also appear on the back and the chest.
How To Identify Cystic Acne?
Cystic acne can be easily identified from the below symptoms:
- Hard, pus-filled lump
How To Treat Cystic Acne?
A. Home Remedies
1. Green Tea Bag Compress
Green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a great cystic acne remedy. The flavonoids in green tea act against inflammatory factors and antioxidants such as polyphenols, and quicken the healing process. Green tea being astringent in nature also reduces sebum secretions and prevents further occurrence of cystic acne.
How To Use
- Take a green tea bag and dip it in hot water.
- Use this to compress your cystic acne 2 times a day.
2. Herbal Steaming
Steaming is a great cleansing process for skin affected by cystic acne. The warm steam opens your skin pores and loosens the hardened plug. Adding antibacterial herbs to the water further prevents the spread of the infection and reduces inflammation.
How To Use
- Add neem/ tulsi/ green tea/ triphala to boiling water.
- Cover your head with a towel and bend over the vessel of water. Let your skin absorb the goodness of the herbal steam for 10 minutes.
- You can also use a face steamer.
3. Oatmeal Or Gram Flour With Honey Exfoliation
Gently exfoliate your cystic acne right after steaming. This may help it to come to a head. Colloidal oatmeal has amazing anti-inflammatory and to an extent good antibacterial properties. Gram flour is astringent and helps reduce excess sebum in the affected area. It can also help the cystic acne to form a head.
How To Use
- Use oatmeal or gram flour with milk for better exfoliation or with honey to fight the infection.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has good antibacterial properties that help reduce cystic acne. It also helps regulate sebum production, thus keeping your skin acne-free. However, avoid using apple cider vinegar if you have sensitive or allergy prone skin.
How To Use
- Add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and use a cotton ball to apply the solution to the cystic acne.
- Apart from spot treatments, you can also add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to water and wash your face with it regularly to get rid of cystic acne on the cheeks, nose and chin.
5. Pineapple Pack
Pineapple contains the natural enzyme bromelain that helps exfoliate your cystic acne. Bromelain also displays anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce swelling and quicken the healing process. Use it with honey to reduce infection around your cystic acne.
How To Use
- Blend a pineapple along with its stem.
- Add honey and apply on the cystic acne.
- Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water.
6. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a magical herb used to treat a number of skin conditions including cystic acne. The leaves and bark of the plant have amazing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that prevent bacterial infection in your skin pores and reduce inflammation of your cystic acne. Using witch hazel twice daily can cure your cystic acne in a short period of time.
How To Use
- Soak the bark and leaves of witch hazel for half an hour.
- Boil for 5 minutes. Keep the vessel covered and allow the mixture to reach room temperature.
- Strain and apply the solution on your cystic acne using a cotton ball.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes and wash off.
7. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is frequently used for cystic acne treatment. It contains salicylic acid and natural enzymes that exfoliate cystic acne. Being rich in antioxidants and skin lightening ingredients, aloe vera helps cure cystic acne and prevents the occurrence of acne scars. Aloe vera also has astringent properties that prevent excess sebum production and holistically controls the acne.
How To Use
- Fresh aloe vera gel can be directly extracted from the plant and applied on the cystic acne.
B. Ayurvedic Herbs
Turmeric contains the natural anti-inflammatory compound curcumin, making it a perfect treatment for cystic acne. Its antimicrobial properties make it a popular remedy for various skin infections including acne. Regular application of raw turmeric paste on your cystic acne can balance Kapha and Pitta doshas and facilitate quick healing.
Hibiscus helps reduce kapha dosha vitiations and regulate the natural production of sebum. Rich in natural AHAs and BHAs which are used by contemporary medicine to treat cystic acne, regular application of hibiscus paste helps clear the plug trapped in your skin pores. Hibiscus also boosts the skin’s collagen production, which cures cystic acne and reduces the chances of scars and hyperpigmentation.
Antibacterial properties of Dhanyaka or coriander help fight the infection and treat your cystic acne. Antioxidants in this skin-benefitting herb can also prevent cystic acne scars.
An ancient Ayurvedic herb, manjistha  is a great blood purifier and helps remove harmful ama toxins from the body that are often responsible for cystic acne. Consuming manjistha or topically applying it on your cystic acne can heal bacterial infection and balance your hormones to reduce excess sebum secretions.
The medicinal Ayurvedic herbs haritaki, bibhitaki and amlaki, together known as triphala, are used to cure various skin conditions. The antibacterial and antioxidant properties of triphala prevent bacterial proliferation and aid your body’s natural healing abilities.
An effective cystic acne treatment, vetiver helps reduce inflammation, redness, pain and infection. Its astringent nature curbs the overproduction of sebum and helps to heal your cystic acne quickly.
Jatiphala or nutmeg is a popular Indian spice and a great treatment for cystic acne. Packed with vitamins, zinc, magnesium and other skin benefitting nutrients, jatiphala prevents infection and reduces inflammation of your cystic acne. It is further beneficial in healing the damage done to the affected area and minimizes scarring after cystic acne.
Sandalwood’s pitta dosha pacifying properties have an anti-inflammatory effect on the site of your cystic acne. It is also used to reduce the hyperactivity of sebaceous glands. The cooling nature of sandalwood helps relieve pain and redness related to cystic acne. Using sandalwood paste as a spot treatment can help squeeze out the pus and plug trapped within your cystic acne.
Vedix Tip: Including neem leaves in your diet can help detoxify your body and prevent skin conditions such as cystic acne.
C. Essential Oils
Ayurveda advises oil treatments for deeply embedded acne conditions such as cystic acne. Though applying oil on oily areas may not sound like an effective remedy, but, the below-mentioned essential oils are astringent and easily penetrate the dead skin layers to soften the hardened plug. They are also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory which helps the overall acne condition.
Tea Tree Oil
Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, astringent
Contains Eugenol which is effective against P.acnes bacteria, anti-inflammatory, regulates sebum production
Antioxidant and antibacterial
Prevents bacterial infection, is anti-inflammatory, enhances blood circulation, boosts skin immunity
Anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, heals skin damage, unclogs skin pores
Prevents cystic acne, reduces inflammation, astringent, unclogs skin pores
D. Diet For Cystic Acne
- Avoid sugary items and foods that have a high glycemic index.
- Avoid fatty foods, processed, fried and oily foods.
- Include anti-inflammatory food items such as berries, ginger, garlic, omega 3 fatty acids, green leafy vegetables.
- Eat foods rich in zinc such as oysters, poultry.
- Include spices such as turmeric, cumin, nigella seeds in your daily diet.
- Eat foods that are high in Vitamin C and E.
“Drinking a good amount of water daily prevents the clogging of pores, helps in purifying the blood and hydrates the skin to prevent acne,” says Dr. Mamtha Tandle, Ayurvedic doctor at Vedix.
E. Medical Treatment Options
A form of Vitamin A, retinoids help exfoliate the upper layers of your skin to clear away clogged debris in your skin pores. These are available as retinoid creams and can be topically applied to cystic acne. Retinoid creams with the strength of 0.25 and 1.5 are usually safe for short term uses.
2. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide acts as an antibacterial agent when topically applied to cystic acne. It is also an exfoliant that increases your cell turnover rate to bring the cystic acne to a head.
3. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid face washes and solutions are available over the counter and serve as good healers of cystic acne. It is a beta-hydroxy acid that works in a similar way as retinoids to exfoliate dead skin layers that cover your cystic acne.
4. Acne Patches
A rather safe and easy treatment for cystic acne is acne patches. These contain hydrocolloid which helps dry out sebum and pus within your cystic acne and help it reach the head.
5. Topical Antibiotics
For severe cases of cystic acne, topical antibiotics such as erythromycin may be prescribed to control the bacterial infection and heal the acne condition.
6. Corticosteroid Injections
For severe cases of cystic acne, your dermatologist may suggest corticosteroid injections . These are directly injected into the acne to reduce inflammation, redness and pain.
7. Professional Acne Extraction
Professional acne extraction is also another effective cystic acne treatment. In this method, an incision is made at the site of the acne and the plug is drained out using professional equipment. However, this is only to be done by a dermatologist as there is a chance of infection.
How To Prevent Cystic Acne?
1. Follow a strict Ayurveda recommended dosha-balancing diet.
2. Limit your usage of make-up. Use skincare products that are non-comedogenic.
3. Wash your face after long hours in the sun or after a heavy workout to prevent sweat and sebum accumulation in your skin pores.
4. Use gentle exfoliants to cleanse oily sections of your face to clear away dead skin and debris.
“Oil-control measures such as clay face masks containing lodhra, manjishtha, yashtimadhu, vacha can help reduce cystic acne. Limiting dairy and gluten improves cystic acne tremendously. Suryanamaskars help balance the kapha dosha in the body, maintain healthy insulin levels and prevent hormonal triggers of acne,” adds Dr. Zeel.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cystic Acne
1. Can You Pop Cystic Acne?
Not just cystic acne, it is not advisable to pop any kind of acne. Popping cystic acne can spread the bacterial infection and also push the plug into the deeper layers of your skin.
2. Does Cystic Acne Go Away On Its Own?
Cystic acne will heal on its own but it may take a long time. However, not treating your cystic acne may result in acne scars that are difficult to heal. Further, there is a chance of inflammation induced hyperpigmentation at the site of the cystic acne. Thus it is advisable to always treat your acne at the earliest.
3. How Long Does Cystic Acne Last?
Cystic acne can take a long time to heal as the condition occurs in the deeper layers of your skin. It may take more than 2 months for your cystic acne to cure depending on its severity and treatment taken.
The Last Word
Yuvana pidakas or cystic acne can leave behind ice-pick scars and deep dents on your skin even after they heal. Moreover, according to research severe cystic acne can affect one’s social life, leading to depression and lack of self esteem. If you are prone to developing cystic acne, it is always recommended that you visit your Ayurvedic doctor to get a proper skincare routine and diet as per your Prakriti (body constitution) to prevent the condition from recurring. Natural, herbal treatments can help boost your skin immunity, regulate your hormones and holistically prevent causes that lead to cystic acne development.Know Your Dosha Now
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