There are certain skin conditions, like acne, that almost everyone can relate to. And while acne comes in all forms, cystic pimples tend to be the most difficult to treat. Those red, buried-under-the-surface zits don't just ruin good skin days, but they can also be quite painful (and seemingly take forever to heal). Whether you don't have access to a dermatologist or you don't have time for frequent appointments, the best cystic acne treatments can help in a pinch.
Before you get to shopping for a treatment, it's helpful to know more about the acne in question, which is why Bustle got in touch with Dr. Hilary Baldwin, M.D., medical director of the Acne Treatment and Research Center in New Jersey and New York. "Technically, there is no such thing as cystic acne because cysts are not acne and acne is not a cyst," Dr. Baldwin explains. "When the phrase is used, it typically means the patient has large, red pimples, rather than small ones or blackheads." While Dr. Baldwin says that for adult women, these breakouts can be hormonal and tend to most commonly occur on the lower face, jaw, and neck, she's quick to point out that "It can occur anywhere on the face, without rhyme or reason."
Because there isn't necessarily anything causing cystic acne in the first place, Dr. Baldwin stresses that severe or regularly occurring cases are best treated by a dermatologist. "It has a tendency to scar and to cause psychological discomfort and reduced quality of life," says, adding that cystic acne often requires prescription-only treatments, like antibiotics, to effectively treat the condition. But over-the-counter products can work on their own (or with your derm-prescribed treatments) if you're choosing the proper ingredients. Dr. Baldwin shares that the most effective ingredients you'll find available for at-home use include benzoyl peroxide and the retinoid adapalene, which are both applied topically (either all-over or as a spot treatment).
To help fight acne at home, here are five of the best cystic acne treatments available on Amazon — whether you need an all-over solution or a secret weapon to stop the occasional blemish from making its big debut.