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Managing Cystic Acne

April 17, 2011

Cystic Acne

Most of us suffered with the odd breakout during our teen years and many continue to endure the odd pimple, lump and bump well into adult life but that is nothing compared to what cystic acne sufferers go through.

Cystic acne is characterised by the presence of a large number of persistant solid lumps or cysts under the skin which may become inflamed and filled with puss.  This type of acne can leave pitting, heavy scarring and redness as the bacteria within the pustules damages healthy surrounding tissue.

This is not a condition that cosmetics that can treat and I’d even go so far as to say that until you have seen a health care professional don’t try anything too harsh (and by harsh I mean extream pH and abbrasive which can inlude organics)  on your delicate skin as you may make it worse.  While mild break-outs, spots and comedones may heal quicker after a treatment of acid peels, microdermabrasion,  astringents or over-the-counter anti-bacterials cystic acne sufferers may only agrevate their situation.

If you have cystic acne your dermatologist may talk to you about a number of treatments including antibiotics, the contraceptive pill, topical retinoids, cortisol injections , lazer treatment or even surgery to help drain larger cysts and nodules. Once your skin is back under control you may still require treatment to help re-surface and condition the skin.  For severe cases facial fillers may be the answer whereas for milder cases you may just be advised to use skincare containing certain actives to help restore the health and barrier function of the skin or you may be advised about different make-up products that can help restore your confidence.

While these medical solutions are all very helpful, it is also worth looking at things from a holistic perspective.  Eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of water and taking gentle exercise (excessive heavy work-outs may aggravate the skin but the overall health benefits probably outweigh the short-term pain) can all help in keeping our bodies functioning at their best but it is also true that sometimes even the healthiest clean-living people suffer from this troublesome condition.  Cystic acne has a genetic component and is also aggravated by a number of other systemic changes.  Natural remedies that help balance and regulate the hormones may help as may herbs or vitamins that help to calm and soothe the body from within.  Also it is important to remember that while a little sunshine may help to clear up your spots, too much will lead to more problems so wear sunscreen (especially if you have been placed on a retinoid prescription).

These days there are so many ways to help you manage what can be a debilitating and embarrassing condition so there really is no need to suffer in silence.  I would always suggest going to your GP first to make sure you rule out any underlying problem (polycystic ovaries, un-usual hormone imbalance, infection or skin reaction) before self-treating but once you know what you’re dealing with, the rest is sort of up to you!

Don’t suffer in silence.  Even moderate acne can affect the way you feel about your body and we don’t want you feeling bad.  Take care and this Easter remember that it is more likely that your genes rather than your chocolate habit caused your skin condition so eat up and chill out.

These websites contain some good information: All About Acne, Derm Atlas, sensible acne advise, Web MD.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2011 8:31 am

    As a teenager, I was plagued with the occasional flaming red pimple. Although my skin was usually clear, I didn’t fully appreciate this until my mid-20s, when – to my surprise – I started to have more frequent and severe flare-ups. Like many people, I assumed that acne was a “teenager’s problem,” so I was both puzzled and frustrated when my acne only worsened with age – despite the inordinate amount of time I devoted to skin care.

    Over the previous six months, the situation has become intolerable. Now approaching 30, the periods of flare-ups far outnumber clear days. Objectively, I know that I don’t have it “that bad,” but it’s bothersome nonetheless. I decided to take action and map out a plan of over-the-counter treatments before turning to a dermatologist for help (a last step for me, since, in my experience, dermatologists seem to overcharge and under-deliver!). At first, I tried to locate advice on the Internet. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a site with comprehensive and consistent information; for example, home remedies ran the gamut, from lemon peels to shaving cream to tumeric. There are literally as many “folk remedies” as there are acne sufferers!

    Rather than try to sort through this information overload, I instead turned to my local library. The most recent book on acne treatments they owned was “Breaking Out,” so I checked it out right away.

    I have to say, I think I hit the jackpot the first time around! “Breaking Out” is a comprehensive guide to acne treatments. Preston covers all the bases; she discusses acne myths and truths; OTC treatments that work (as well as those that don’t); various prescription remedies; and even more drastic therapies, such as Accutane and hormones. A longtime acne sufferer herself, she’s definitely done her research – and she also addresses her audience with empathy. She features interviews with a number of prominent researchers in the field, but the discussion is never dry or boring. Rather, she manages to break down the science behind acne causes and treatments so that it’s easily comprehensible to laypeople.

    After reading “Breaking Out,” I drew up a plan to deal with my acne: a facial wash containing 2% salicylic acid (twice a day), together with a 10% benzoyl peroxide cream (again, twice a day), and an oil-free moisturizer with sunblock (as needed). When I went to my local grocery store, book in hand, I was able to tackle the five mini-aisles of cosmetics with ease: I knew exactly what I wanted, and what products/ingredients I should avoid. Although it’s only been a few weeks, it already seems like I’m getting fewer pimples (though I suppose it could just be my imagination!). Best yet, I feel confident, empowered to solve the problem, as opposed to sitting back and passively accepting the advice of clueless dermatologists.

    Even though the guide is directed at women, men might find it helpful as well – particularly the chapters on various treatment options. I’d also recommend the book to men whose partners are afflicted with acne. Preston addresses the emotional aspects of acne, and her advice to women might help men understand how acne affects the emotional health and well-being of their partners.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      April 20, 2011 9:03 am

      Hi there and thanks for the comment. It sounds like you are a big fan of the book by the glowing advertisment, let’s hope it helps others. 10% benzoyl peroxide is quite strong and may make some peoples skin dry and red but others can tolerate it just fine. Worth a try I guess.

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