Cystic acne typically develops due to oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells getting trapped in a hair follicle or pore. The cysts usually appear on the face, neck, back, shoulders, and arms. They resemble boils and are painful to the touch.
In this article, we’ll explore seven home remedies that you can try, as well as some traditional medical treatment options.
Although some of the ingredients in these remedies have shown some healing properties, none of these remedies are scientifically proven to be an effective treatment for cystic acne.
Because ice is often effective in decreasing swelling, itchiness, pain, and redness, some natural healers suggest rubbing an ice cube on the cystic acne spot until the cold becomes uncomfortable. Some recommend doing this three times daily.
Some proponents of home remedies suggest mixing a crushed aspirin tablet with water to make a paste and applying this to a cystic pimple. The belief is that this mask may help reduce pain and inflammation.
It’s important to note that aspirin can cause irritation when applied directly to the skin. Also, if you have a known allergy to salicylates, you might want to avoid trying this remedy.
Some proponents of natural healing feel that dairy may be responsible for cystic acne. They suggest eliminating all dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt, from your diet for 3 weeks, monitoring your skin for new breakouts.
They suggest that if there are no new breakouts, it’s an indication that dairy is a trigger or cause for your cystic acne.
Some advocates of natural healing also cite anecdotal evidence that sugar and processed foods are causes of inflammation that can lead to cystic acne breakouts. They recommend eliminating all refined sugar and processed foods from your diet.
Some advocates of natural healing cite vinegar’s antibacterial properties. They recommend using a diluted white vinegar cleanser on your skin twice per day. The suggested dilution is typically about 2 capfuls of vinegar mixed with about 3 cups of purified water.
Again, take care when applying vinegar to the skin, as it can cause irritation.
Citing its reputation as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, some natural healers recommend using a turmeric mask to treat cystic acne.
Mixing small amounts of water with turmeric powder creates a thick paste. The home remedy recommendation is to apply this paste directly to the cystic acne and leave it in place for about 45 minutes, before rinsing it off with water. Proponents suggest repeating this process twice per day.
It’s important to use caution when applying turmeric directly to the skin, as it can cause some irritation.
The link between skin health and gut health is advocated by many natural healers, some of whom suggest that a daily dose of probiotics can encourage clearer skin and reduce skin inflammation.
They suggest getting the probiotics by eating yogurt, kimchi, veggies, kefir, and other foods said to contain healthy bacteria.
Tea tree oil’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties are used by proponents of natural healing to justify their suggestion of using it as a topical home remedy for cystic acne.
A doctor or dermatologist is likely to suggest avoiding home remedies and treatments, including over-the-counter products. That’s because these options may not be strong enough to treat cystic acne.
Instead, to treat cystic acne, a doctor might recommend the following:
- azelaic acid (Azelex)
- dapsone (Aczone)
- isotretinoin (Accutane)
- oral antibiotics (tetracycline)
- spironolactone (Aldactone)
- topical retinoids (Retin-A)
They may also recommend treatments such as light-based therapy (laser or photodynamic) or steroid injections into cystic and nodular lesions.
Although many proponents of natural healing recommend these home remedies for alleviating cystic acne, their effects are based on anecdotal evidence as opposed to clinical scientific research.
If you’re considering trying a home remedy such as an aspirin mask, a vinegar cleanser, or a turmeric mask, discuss the idea with a doctor or dermatologist first. They can let you know if it’s a sound treatment option for your skin and overall health.
If you’re concerned about your cystic acne and don’t already have a dermatologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.