Acne is the most common ailment in America, and probably in the entire world, as it afflicts anywhere from 75-100% of the population at some point in their lives. The types of acne lesions vary in severity, with cysts being some of the most painful and difficult lesions to treat.
Acne cysts are like nodules, in that they form deep in the inner layers of the skin and are painful and destructive to tissue. However, where nodules are “blind,” meaning they have no head and do not have pus inside, cysts do; cysts are also usually larger than nodules. They don’t typically protrude much, unlike nodules, but the inflammation causes some more uneven swelling and develops a pocket within the skin that can become very infected and cause tissue damage if they do not receive the appropriate acne treatment for cysts.
Cystic acne has many different causes, such as:
- Family history. If one of your parents had severe acne, you are more likely to develop it.
- Using oily or greasy facial products. This is the most common cause of cystic acne in women. Always choose cosmetics, moisturizers and sunscreens that describe themselves as “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic”.
- Hormone changes. Cystic acne is most common in teenage males and pregnant or menstruating women, due to the notable hormonal fluctuations that these individuals experience.
- Diet. An outbreak of acne cysts and other acne vulgaris lesions is often linked to a diet high in refined sugars, fat, and caffeine. One facet of acne treatment includes diet modification.
- Stress. Extended periods of stress can cause hormonal changes, which can induce acne breakouts.
- Face touching/Squeezing/Picking at acne lesions. If you constantly fiddle with your face, you run a higher risk of developing acne. By irritating a whitehead or blackhead you can cause inflammation and infection, resulting in a serious lesion such as a cyst.
All About Acne Cysts
Cysts are full of liquid or semi-liquid pus, which is composed of white blood cells, bacteria, and dead skin cells. The bacterial agent is usually p. acnes, the culprit in most acne vulgaris cases. Although the cyst can be expressed, it is important to note that it is not a good idea to attempt to squeeze a cyst yourself. Squeezing a cyst can result in severe scarring, worsened inflammation, and more tissue damage. The best thing to do if you have cystic acne is to seek help from a dermatologist, who will usually prescribe a combination of acne treatments, one of which is cortisone injections.
Acne Cysts Treatment with Cortisone Injections
Cortisone is a corticosteroid, a natural substance produced by the adrenal glands. It aids in decreasing inflammation and speeding the healing process, especially when injected directly into the cyst. Cortisone shots will help dry up the cyst and calm the inflammation, reducing the pain caused by the cyst and diminishing the chance of scarring and tissue damage.
You will need to consult your dermatologist to receive cortisone shots. The injections are painful, but the results are worth it; the doctor will administer a local anesthetic to reduce the pain. Once the cortisone injection has been given, the cyst usually shrinks and dissolves within 24-48 hours, if not sooner. This treatment is effective as a remedy for cysts that have already formed, but those with moderate to severe cystic acne need to have a good skincare regimen, augmented by treatments with tretinoin products and antibiotics. Consult with your dermatologist to determine the proper acne treatment for your particular case.