There are loads of products both naturally and OTC that can relieve you from the pain of cystic acne, but the issue I've been having of late is settling on products that will clear cystic acne without drying out my skin. Cystic acne is caused by the same bacteria that causes regular acne and it's usually treated with similar products, products that only kill the bacteria on the surface, according to sources at Teen Vogue. Anyone who's suffered from these cysts knows that they come with pain and shame. Sources at Paula's Choice explain cystic acne as a type of acne can burst beneath the skin providing a painful, inflamed bump that isn't easily brought to a head because the amount of sebum being produced is so excessive it becomes unable to push through the surface. Basically, it's a throbbing, hideous blemish that you want to attack at first sight, but wait... that will just lead to more cysts.
According to sources at Livestrong, dry skin can cause acne because those sebum glands are trying to produce oil and protect the skin from dryness. So the next time you attempt to dry the crap out of your cysts with OTC products or even tea tree oil, think about honing in specifically on the cysts and not applying it all over your face. Not to mention that weather conditions can make your skin dry AF already, so depleting your skin of its natural oil will have you in class beauty catch-22.
While many people battling cystic acne have very oily skin, there are some battling dryness AND cystic acne. When one of my buddy's wife came to me with a desperate need to treat her hubby's cystic acne and dry skin, I had to come up with a few tips to take the pressure off his wife AND his cysts.
1. Moisturize Daily With Tamanu Oil
There is a reason why this is my first tip for anyone that gets cystic outbreaks. For the most part, my cystic acne is under control, but I still find them creeping up on me particularly on my back and underneath my chin. I used tamanu oil with a few drops of lavender tea tree as my daily moisturizer and found that the healing time of my cysts improved remarkably. Not only was I not driven to the painful phase of trying to pop it to relieve the pressure, but the dark spot it usually leaves behind went away within 2 weeks. This oil means business.
2. Spot Treat Your Cyst, Not Your Entire Face
There are some amazing natural remedies for cystic acne that I've fallen in love with: baking soda, tea tree oil, and apple cider vinegar all reach beyond the surface layer of the skin removing deeply rooted bacteria, but sometimes they can dry out the rest of your face especially in the winter months or with harsher OTC products. If my skin is feeling particularly dry, I spot treat my cysts and use a gentle cleanser to keep the rest of my skin free from acne.
3. Keep Cleansing Gentle
Speaking of gentle cleansers, honey is a great pH balancer that cleans and hydrates skin. I've found it to be a great addition to my topical treatments to make sure I'm not drying out my skin while I'm treating my acne with a highly antiseptic ingredient that can be irritating.
4. Exfoliate Gently, Not Aggressively
Exfoliating is super important, but if you exfoliate the crap out of your face while you have a cystic acne outbreak, you may find those cysts become more irritable and your face sensitive and dry. Don't get too crazy with exfoliating, limit it to twice a week and use gentle exfoliates that cleanse.
5. Neem Oil For A Nightly Serum
According to sources at Holistic Vanity, neem oil supports hormonal health and we know that cystic acne breakouts are more likely to occur during hormone imbalances or periods. Neem oil sooths breakouts by bringing down inflammation in those painful cysts, but its ability to hydrate and sooth dry skin is the reason why neem oil is great for cysts and dry skin. Loaded with vitamin E and antiseptic properties, using neem oil after you wash your face at night may help alleviate both dry skin and cystic acne.
6. Before You Reach for the Chemicals, Reach For A Banana Peel
OK, so I know it sounds cray to ditch a topical treatment prescribed by a doctor for a single banana peel, but it has changed my life and the life span of my cysts. When my sis had her baby, we were all stressed AF and my face was no different, I had two big cysts on my chin and one on my back, during my 5 hour drive from Boston to NYC, I took a banana peel and rubbed it gently on my cysts while sitting in traffic. Not only did the banana peel provide instant relief of the painful bumps, but the inflammation went down and stayed down without drying out my face. Sure, I looked completely, well... bananas to anyone driving by me in traffic, but that banana peel was the start to healing my cysts.
7. Use Ice to Bring Down Inflammation
The age old debate is whether to use heat to bring down inflammation of a cyst or ice; I have found that using ice always soothes and brings down the redness of my cyst whereas heat only sometimes brings my cyst to a head. The other reason I choose ice for cysts, like many others, is because I can make my ice infused with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties that speed up the healing time. My new personal fave is marshmallow root tea because it has emollient properties that won't dry out my skin while keeping down the protruding cyst.
See? Easy, natural, and effective. What more could someone ask for?
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (7)