As anyone who has suffered through it can tell you, cystic acne is the most severe type of acne breakout. It can be distinctly identified by an abundance of inflamed and infected cystic pimples that just never seem to go away.
These patches most often appear on the face, but they can also show up on your chest, back, arms, and upper legs. And even though it’s one of the most widespread skin disorders among teenagers and young adults, finding a cystic acne home remedy that actually works is easier said than done.
As a result, far too many people needlessly suffer through years of inflamed skin, unsightly pimples, and damaged self-esteem. Luckily though, there are a number of great at-home remedies, as well as proven-effective treatment regimens, that offer tremendous relief for even the most severe cases of cystic acne.
How Does Cystic Acne Form?
The first step to getting rid of severe breakouts for good is to understand exactly what causes cystic acne. The root of your problems is the fact that all of the pores in your skin contain sebaceous glands which secrete a substance called sebum. Sebum is extremely helpful in the upkeep and maintenance of your skin, but when it’s overproduced it can lead to cystic acne.
That’s because sebum also provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. While this is great when it comes to the helpful bacterium that are good for our bodies, it’s less ideal when bacteria like P. acnes makes itself at home.
As a result of overproduction, pores get clogged by the sebum, trapping bacteria in there along with it. Cystic acne forms when this bacteria reproduces and spreads out into the surrounding tissue. On the surface, the single blemish has now turned into a swollen red, infected pore – commonly referred to as a cystic pimple.
When a number of cystic pimples form in a closely-knit patch, this is referred to as cystic acne.
Causes of Cystic Acne
There are a ton of different factors that can cause cystic acne – some which are within your control and many others that you can’t do anything about. So while you may not be able to prevent breakouts all together, the best cystic acne home remedy for most sufferers is simply to make sure that you’re doing every preventative measure that you can to improve your chances of staying blemish-free.
A few of the best practices for how to prevent cystic acne include:
Wash your face regularly – We already learned that cystic acne results from a buildup of sebum in your pores, so it should be obvious that your number one line of defense is to maintain clean oil-free skin. Make sure you’re washing your face with warm water and a gentle cleanser at least twice a day.
Don’t touch the infected area – Not only are your hands covered with countless different types of dirt and germs, but touching patches of cystic acne will agitate the sores and spread the P. acnes bacteria further around your skin.
Keep your face off the pillow – You wouldn’t hold an oily rag on your cheeks for hours on end, so why would you lay with your head on an oily cloth pillow all night? Pillows can quickly build up a layer of grease from your skin and air, and laying your face on them while you sleep is bound to clog your pores.
Avoid sweating, and wash your skin as soon as possible – A little bit of sweating is good; it helps cleanse your pores. But your pores also expand when you sweat, meaning that extended periods of strenuous activity can give dirt, oil, and bacteria the chance to make themselves at home in your skin. When you do break a sweat, make sure to clean your skin as soon as possible with cold water and a gentle cleanser.
Don’t get stressed out – Stress can play a big factor in the development of cystic acne. According to experts, this is because increased stress levels have a negative impact on our sleep. Our bodies need sleep in order to heal and recover, and when we don’t get enough, our cells and immune system suffers.
Watch which medications you take – Breakouts can sometimes occur as a result of prescription medication, and in that situation there isn’t a cystic acne home remedy in the world that will help. Most often this occurs as a result of taking hormone replacement supplements, so if you begin experiencing cystic acne after starting a new type of medicine, consult your doctor immediately.
Home Remedies for Cystic Acne
While there are a number of great professional treatments that can reduce the frequency and severity of cystic acne, not everyone wants to – or is financially able to – go see an expensive dermatologist to treat their cystic acne issues.
Luckily there’s an alternative, but it can take a little bit of effort and a 100% commitment to clear skin: finding a cystic acne home remedy – or combination of home remedies – that works for your individual skin type and acne situation.
This isn’t always easy, however, as not all treatments work for everyone. You may notice that just because one technique works for your friend, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for you. Oftentimes, it can take weeks, or even months, of adjusting your daily skin care regimen to find a blend that’s effective in preventing cystic acne for your body.
So now that that’s been made clear (no pun intended!), here are the eleven most popular and successful home remedies for cystic acne:
Likely the cystic acne home remedy with the most widespread and long-lasting health benefits (not only for your skin, but for the rest of your body as well), adjusting your diet to avoid certain unhealthy, acne-causing foods can work wonders in clearing your skin.
A few smart suggestions for your cystic acne diet include:
- Avoid spicy foods and anything with capsaicin, the extremely powerful oil commonly found in hot peppers.
- Skip foods that are highly processed or have a large amount of sugar in them.
- Drink extra water – staying well-hydrated keeps your body operating at full speed. It also helps to flush out the bacteria and toxins that cause cystic acne.
- Reduce, or cut out altogether, your consumption of milk and other dairy products.
- Stock up on foods that are abundant in Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Nuts are some of the best sources for both nutrients.
- Stick with a low-glycemic diet that contains a lot of fresh fruit, beans, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Drink a glass of orange juice each morning – the Vitamin C in there will help promote healthy tissue growth, cutting down on cystic acne and reducing the likelihood of scars.
The idea behind facial steaming is that it allows your skin to gently and naturally exfoliate all of the cystic acne-causing sebum, dirt, and bacteria that gets trapped in your pores. But before we go any further, it’s important to mention that over-steaming can have a negative effect on your skin, so don’t try this more than a couple of times a week.
How to Do It:
- Start by using warm water and a non-abrasive cleanser to clean any oil, dirt, or makeup off of your skin.
- Take a medium-sized bowl of hot, steaming (note: NOT boiling) water and place it on a table or counter.
- Place a large towel around the back of your head so that when you place your head over the bowl, the steam cannot escape
- Position your face just above the steam, taking care not to get so close that it burns you.
- After five minutes, take a cool washcloth and your gentle cleanser, and wipe away any sweat, oil, and debris that may have been released during the steaming.
Without a doubt, honey is the sweetest cystic acne home remedy around. Pun intended this time. In addition to being a delicious, natural snack, honey also has powerful antibacterial properties which are highly effective in treating breakouts. Antioxidants in honey also work to protect the skin from free radicals – small chemical particles which result from the inflammation associated with acne.
When using honey as a home remedy for cystic acne, you have two options:
- Rub raw honey directly on the area where you’re having a breakout. Leave it on for fifteen minutes, and then completely wash it off with warm water. This technique can be applied two to three times a day as needed.
- Mix ½ teaspoon of honey into 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon to form a paste. Apply this mixture directly to the affected area, leaving it on for 10 minutes before washing it off with warm water. For best results, apply this technique once a day for an entire week.
Using green tea is another one of the most popular cystic acne home remedies. That’s because it’s packed full of natural antioxidants that help promote a glowing, healthy complexion. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties which help soothe and reduce the severity of irritated skin.
In fact, green tea is one of the most effective natural remedies for cystic acne that we know about. A study published in 2013 revealed that one chemical in green tea – epigallocatechin-3-gallate – can actually destroy the P. acnes bacteria that causes chronic cystic pimples.
How to Use It:
- Make a regular habit of drinking 2 to 3 cups of strong green tea every single day. Avoid doing so right before bed, however, as green tea does contain moderate levels of caffeine.
- Take crushed green tea leaves and slowly add in water until you develop a moist, pliable mixture. Apply this blend to the affected areas of your face for fifteen minutes, followed by a thorough rinse with cold water. This can be repeated up to twice a day.
Tea Tree Oil
Also known and sold as melaleuca and melaleuca oil, tea tree oil originates from the Melaleuca alternifolia, a common shrub found across the entire Australian continent, although most predominantly in the eastern regions. There, aboriginal natives have been using tea tree oil as a topical skin treatment for centuries.
Despite being a natural remedy that’s been used for centuries, tea tree oil is one of the most effective treatments against the MRSA virus, a bacteria-resistant viral strain that is difficult to kill with even the most modern medications. Tea tree oil is toxic if ingested, however, so be sure to only apply it topically – never drink it or use it inside of your mouth.
There are dozens of ways to use tea tree oil as a cystic acne cure but the three most popular are:
- Mix even parts tea tree oil and honey or aloe vera, and then apply the tincture to your breakouts once a day.
- Add three to five drops of tea tree oil into your commercial or homemade face mask mixture and then use the mask as directed.
- For cystic acne on your body, the best tea tree oil cystic acne cure is to add a little of the oil to a bathtub full of warm water and soak in it for at least 30 minutes, twice a week.
We already know that excessive deposits of sebum and oils on the skin can cause cystic acne, but what’s a little more shocking to learn is that the healthy fats in coconut oil are able to bind with their more harmful counterparts, removing them from your skin and leaving it fresh and clean.
The benefits of coconut oil don’t end there: it also contains large amounts of caprylic and lauric acid – two helpful chemicals known to have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Together they help in fending off bad bacteria on your skin and preventing pimples and cystic acne from forming. Caprylic acid also provides antioxidant protection for your skin, a great first line of defense in preventing future breakouts.
Additionally, coconut oil can be used as a natural moisturizer and is very helpful in lubricating dry skin.
How to Use It:
- Make sure that you’re using all natural virgin coconut oil – not the refined commercial product you’ll find in supermarkets.
- Clean your skin with warm water to remove any surface dirt and oil.
- Take a quarter-sized amount of coconut oil and apply it to your face in a circular motion.
- Leave the oil on for fifteen minutes while it works its way into your pores.
- After the fifteen minutes are up, gently wash the area again with warm water and a mild cleanser.
This process can be repeated daily.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Humans have been using apple cider vinegar – a product of fermented apple juice – to treat a myriad of health and skin issues for thousands of years. Apple cider vinegar is just as effective today as it’s always been, but now we know why: it has antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties which make it perfect for treating cystic acne.
Similar to honey, the antioxidants in apple cider vinegar work to remove free radicals and other toxins present on your skin’s surface, resulting in less pain and inflammation following treatment. At the same time, your skin gets exfoliated by the malic acid which is also found in the vinegar, drying out the extra sebum produced by the sebaceous glands on your face.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar helps in balancing out the pH levels of your skin which can be thrown all out of whack as a result of cystic acne.
How to Use It:
- Blend equal parts apple cider vinegar and purified water in a small container.
- Take a cotton ball or pad, soak it in the mixture, and apply it to your cystic acne.
- Leave the cotton in place for 15 to 20 minutes, cleaning the spot with warm water and a cleanser when you’re done.
If you have sensitive skin or notice increased redness following the use of apple cider vinegar, increase the amount of water you use to make your blend so that it’s less concentrated. Otherwise, this is safe to do up to twice a day.
Lavender oil is a great cystic acne home remedy that’s actually found in a ton of different health and skincare products and is one of the best ways how to get rid of severe acne. It has unique anti-bacterial properties which can greatly reduce the pain and inflammation associated with your cystic acne. It can also help your skin heal itself, and reduce the chances that your acne cysts will scar.
With lavender oil, you have three different home treatment options to choose from:
- Increase the effectiveness of the facial steaming method outlined above by adding in four to five drops of lavender oil for each cup of water in your bowl, following the rest of the process as previously described.
- Take a cotton swab and apply a few drops of lavender oil directly on the affected areas of your skin between two to three times daily for an entire week.
- Mix between 3 and 5 drops of lavender oil into your standard facial cleanser each time that you use it. This can be repeated up to three times a day.
One of the more lesser-known tricks, but still considered by many to be the best home treatment for cystic acne, home treatments for cystic acne, Fuller’s earth is an effective remedy for ridding your skin of the excess oil created by overactive sebaceous glands. It’s intended to be used as a supplement to your normal cystic acne regimen – not as an entire solution by itself.
How to Use It:
- Take two teaspoons of Fuller’s earth and slowly introduce water to it until it begins to develop into a paste.
- Add an additional ½ teaspoon of honey into the mix.
- Apply this blend to your face or anywhere else on your body where cystic acne is forming.
- Let the mixture dry and leave it on for fifteen minutes.
- After the time is up, use warm water and a light cleanser to remove it completely from your face.
Fuller’s earth can be used up to twice a week for treating cystic acne.
If there’s one thing on this list that you’ve never heard of before, there’s a good chance that it’s neem. Neem is a common evergreen tree which grows all across India and the surrounding areas. Its leaves have been used there for centuries to treat a variety of different ailments, including cystic acne.
The biggest downside of neem is that the leaves are very bitter – to the extent that some people simply can’t stand the taste. As an alternative, most people who take neem orally for its health-enhancing qualities do so via capsule form.
There are three ways in which neem is commonly used as a home remedy for cystic acne:
- Take some neem leaves and boil them. Let the tea cool down to room temperature and use it to thoroughly rinse your face or other affected areas. This can be repeated two to three times a day.
- Crush neem leaves and slowly add a small amount of water to create a paste which you would then want to apply to your skin for fifteen to twenty minutes once daily.
- Use pre-packaged neem capsules daily as directed, or if you can handle the taste, consume a small dose of fresh neem leaves every morning.
Another popular home remedy for cystic acne that’s been used all around the world for hundreds of years is a spice that you probably have sitting in your kitchen cabinet right now: turmeric.
Turmeric contains curcumin – a powerful anti-inflammatory compound which is known to relieve inflammation and the pain associated with it. It also acts as an antiseptic which can cleanse toxins and kill harmful bacteria like P. acnes.
The two most popular ways to use turmeric to treat cystic acne are:
- Mix one teaspoon of turmeric with one teaspoon of sesame oil and apply it to your face or existing breakout, massaging it in for five minutes, and washing it off with warm water and your cleanser after the time is up. You can do this daily.
- Add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of warm milk. Drinking this mixture twice a day will not only help clear your skin – it will offer a plethora of additional health-improving benefits as well.
Don’ts of Cystic Acne
No matter how what treatment you’re using to clear up your cystic acne, there are still some behaviors that you need to avoid. While some of these may seem like good ideas in theory, in the end they’re going to slow the healing progress and cause your cystic acne to become even worse.
A few of the biggest don’ts of cystic acne include:
- Don’t overly scrub your skin. You may think you’re getting deep in there and clearing out your pores, but you’re probably just irritating your skin and spreading the trapped bacteria.
- Don’t spend very much time in the sun without proper oil-free sunscreen. Extended exposure to the sun can damage your skin and cause it to take far longer to heal.
- Don’t pick at your cystic pimples. As tempting as it can be, and as much sense as it makes to squeeze out the pus and bacteria, trying to pop acne cysts can damage the surrounding tissue further and cause the bacteria to work its way deeper into your skin.
- Don’t use too many treatments at once. Not only can you wind up harming your skin, but when something does work, you won’t be able to tell what it is. Adjust your acne regimen one technique at a time to keep better control over your skin.
- Don’t turn into a hermit because of your cystic acne. Most people with cystic acne tend to avoid social situations – a decision which can often lead to depression. No matter how bad your cystic acne is, make sure to still go out and enjoy your life.
The Best Cystic Acne Remedy
Every single home remedy for cystic acne that we’ve discussed so far on this page has been proven effective in treating even the worst acne cases. Many of the techniques have even been used for hundreds – if not thousands – of years. But at the end of the day, none of them can be guaranteed 100% effective. There is no single technique or treatment for how to cure cystic acne that will work for everyone.
If you’re just beginning to look for an acne treatment that works for you, start by trying one or two of the remedies listed here – you’re likely to see a huge improvement within just a couple of weeks.
But if you’ve tried to cure your cystic acne before – maybe even many different times – with little-to-no success, you may need to bite the bullet and spend the money to visit an experienced dermatologist who can offer medical treatments that’s are well suited for your individual skin care needs.
If that simply isn’t an option – we understand that going to see a specialist can be expensive (and impractical for many people without insurance) – the next best thing you can do for your skin is to invest in a proven acne regimen plan. This will equip you with a very comprehensive, yet easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan that’s designed to systematically provide relief to sufferers of even the most severe forms of cystic acne.