Cystic acne is a more severe form of acne in which the infection forms much deeper in the skin than usual. These deeper infections can't be squeezed and popped like pimples. As the infection continues, the sebaceous gland fills with pus and the related lump increases in size.
Cystic acne is more common among males than females. According to clinical research, cystic acne is more common on the face than other parts of the body. Cystic acne most frequently affects persons in their teens.
Cystic acne is caused by the same processes that are responsible for acne. Namely, pores of the skin are plugged and sebum begins to collect around the sebaceous gland. This trapped sebum provides an ideal breeding ground for the P. acnes bacterium, which infects the clogged pore. This leads to the characteristic swelling and redness of a pimple.
The primary characteristic of cystic acne is that the infection is much deeper in the skin, affecting the deeper tissues of the skin rather than the superficial inflammation of common acne. Cystic acne is most often found on the face because that's where sebaceous glands are deeper under the surface of the skin.
Cystic acne most often reveals itself as a red spot on the surface of the skin, which is tender to the touch. Applying topical anti acne products (especially those containing salicylic acid) helps to relieve the blemish. Cystic acne should never be squeezed! Trying to pop one of these deep zits only drives the infection deeper into the skin and can lead to scarring.
Cystic acne blemishes feel hard to the touch. Over time, the blemish softens as white blood cells gather in the area to fight off the infection. The battleground of white blood cells, bacteria and the byproducts of their battles is known as pus. Finally, the pus forms a "head" and may spontaneously drain (or may be assisted surgically, or with a sharp needle). This drainage begins the healing process.
Most of the time there's nothing you can do about cystic acne except reduce the swelling and wait for your immune system to take care of the infection. Any anti acne products that contain ingredients that fight inflammation are your friends. Salicylic acid, chamomile and the like can all help reduce the swelling of cystic acne.
Remember -- don't squeeze! Although it's hard, just be patient and let your body, and your anti acne treatments, sort out your cystic acne.
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