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How To Reduce Cystic Acne

How To Reduce Cystic Acne

You don’t know what bad acne is until you’ve had cystic acne. It can be super painful.

For those of you that don’t know, cystic acne is a severe type of acne that happens when bacteria gets trapped inside a clogged pore. 

It causes large, painful breakouts underneath the skin’s surface. But not just like minor breakouts, it’s more like cystic pimples that take FOREVER to heal and affect large areas of the skin. 

Not only that, cystic acne can also cause scarring, wider pores, and even dents and dimples in the skin. And, every time, it’s just like WHYYY?

Cystic acne can be caused by a variety of things. Think pregnancy, menopause, menstrual cycle, excessive sweating, certain skin care or makeup products, certain medications – and the list goes on.

And we’re not trying to be dramatic or anything, but cystic acne flare-ups can actually be traumatic. Dealing with something like cystic acne, especially on a regular basis, can really take a toll on your self-esteem and overall confidence. 

So, the reason you’re all here – how to reduce cystic acne? 

Since a typical skincare routine may not be enough, we’ve put together a roundup of tried and tested tips on how to effectively reduce cystic acne and prevent it from coming back. 

Let’s dive right in.

How To Reduce Cystic Acne

♡ Exfoliate regularly (GENTLY, please). 

Since cystic acne is often caused by dead skin cells clogging up your pores, it’s a good idea to exfoliate your face on a regular basis. 1-2 times each week, depending on your skin type. Just remember to always be gentle, especially if you’re currently going through a flare-up. 

For a super gentle exfoliation, simply use a gentle face cleanser and a baby washcloth. We also recommend Dr. Dennis’s peel pads because it’s a peel, rather than a harsh exfoliant. We like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Acne Cleanser, because it has two active exfoliating ingredients. And CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser, because salicylic acid is an exfoliant and this product is made for sensitive skin. Be sure to exfoliate your lips too.

Dr. Dennis’s peel pads

♡ Apply ice (or use a HOT MESS ice roller, of course).

Cystic pimples are basically clogged pores that are super inflamed due to the gunk trapped in the pore. And that inflammation can lead to larger pimples, redness, and soreness. To reduce these side effects, apply ice to your face to combat the inflammation. 

You can use an ice pack, regular ice cubes, these milk ice cubes, or an ice roller. Other perks of applying ice to your face include that it shrinks the pores, reduces under-eye swelling, and basically gives you an instant facelift. Learn how to use an ice roller, here

♡ Use a warm compress (NOT too hot though). 

When you’re in the middle of a flare-up, grabbing a warm compress can be super helpful. It can soothe redness and pain, promote blood flow and healing, and soften the skin. Because heat can be damaging to the skin, make sure to limit the heat to 2-3 minute increments, ensure your compress ISN’T TOO HOT, and moisturize afterward. 

For the best results, we recommended ROTATING BETWEEN A HOT AND COLD COMPRESS to heal your cystic acne. The cycle of hot and cold reduces swelling and pain. Plus, it softens and soothes the irritated skin and promotes cell regeneration and healing. Hot tip: try warming up your HOT MESS ice roller. 

HOT MESS ice roller

♡ Use a vinegar cleanser (apple cider vinegar, that is).

A well-known home remedy for cystic acne is washing the face with a vinegar solution. This is because vinegar is a strong, yet gentle and natural antibacterial agent. And what is cystic acne caused by again? Bacteria in the pores! So, it’s easy to see why this home remedy is usually effective. 

Instead of using regular vinegar, we recommend using apple cider vinegar. ACV is just better for your skin. In addition to the antibacterial properties, ACV has anti-aging and pH balancing properties as well. For the purposes of treating acne, combine (2) capfuls of ACV with (1) cup of water and cleanse the face. 

♡ Apply a turmeric mask (and no, it doesn’t turn your face yellow).

There’s been a lot of buzz about turmeric face masks lately and for good reason. Turmeric has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties, it promotes healing of wounds, and it can help clear cystic acne. 

The anti-inflammatory properties will reduce the look of redness, bumps, & acne spots or scars that you have right now. Then, the antimicrobial properties will cleanse your pores and help prevent breakouts down the road. To learn how to use turmeric on your face, click here

♡ Keep a healthy lifestyle (mentally and physically).

Hormonal imbalances can sometimes cause things like excessive sweating and excessive oil production. Both of which can lead to hormonal cystic acne flare-ups. This is especially true during times in our life when our hormones are doing crazy things. Like during pregnancy for example. 

One of the best ways to regulate your hormones is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This means getting plenty of rest, eating healthy, and exercising on a regular basis, in addition to taking care of yourself mentally. Prioritizing your health can help you naturally get rid of cystic acne. (P.S: Try to incorporate some of these hormone balancing foods.)

♡ Consume plenty of probiotics (healthy gut bacteria for the win). 

Gut health has been a trending topic for a while now. Mainly because we’re learning that gut health is directly linked to the health of other systems in the body, such as skin health. Because probiotics are known to promote gut health and reduce inflammation, many believe consuming probiotics on a regular basis can help clear cystic acne. 

Probiotics are found in yogurt, kimchi, veggies, kefir, and other foods that contain healthy bacteria. Want to know where else you’ll find a nice dose of probiotics? THE SKINNY CONFIDENTIAL PINK DRINK! If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a healthy, delicious, and pink (of, course) treat. 

Also be sure to stalk Lauryn’s favorite probiotic from Just Thrive. Use code SKINNY for 15% off your purchase.

ultimate probiotic prebiotic silver fern | by the skinny confidential

♡ Apply some tea-tree oil (yes, it smells bad, but it’s totes worth it). 

Okay, we know what you’re thinking. Tea-tree oil doesn’t have the greatest smell, so why would you put it on your face? BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING, THAT’S WHY! It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, AND anti-inflammatory properties. Other than an acne treatment, you can also use tea-tree oil to treat toe fungus, dandruff, and even bad breath

To treat cystic acne, apply tea-tree oil to the face at night, just like you’d apply a facial oil. For tips on when & how to use facial oil, click here. If you don’t want to put it all over your face, you can definitely just use this oil as a spot treatment. 

♡ Apply a topical treatment (ONLY after speaking with a professional).

When the home remedies just aren’t cutting it, the next step is to apply a topical treatment. But, and we can’t say this enough, only after speaking with a professional or a board certified dermatologist. 

Depending on your skincare and the severity of your acne, you might need a certain product. So, let the experts do their thing, rather than risking your skin on just any random product. And always do your research on the brand and ingredients used. Common ingredients to look for include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinol. 

Make cystic acne your b*tch by utilizing some of these tips.

We get it, cystic breakouts are hard. And if you’re dealing with this on a regular basis, you’ve probably already tried everything in the book. 

All in all, dealing with cystic acne revolves around reducing inflammation, preventing clogged pores, sticking with dermatologist recommendations, and finding what works best for you. 

x, The Skinny Confidential team

+ for more tips on fighting acne, click here

++ stalk this humidifier you need for plump & dewy skin.


  1. I suffered on and off and it was definitely hormonal for me BUT I started following the medical medium and he talked about eggs and acne!!!!!!! Life changing for me! There is a direct link and no one is talking about it! I want everyone to know! 🙂

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