Quick Relief of Cystic Acne

May 18, 2020 | Acne

It never fails, right? You wake up with a huge, deep zit right before your big interview, or a date or even your wedding day. 

When pimples are deep, red, tender and large, they are usually what we call cystic acne lesions.  Short of going to your Dermatologist to have cortisone shot, there are a few ways to speed up healing. 

1. Start with salicylic acid.

Slathering on traditional acne meds won’t have the same effect on a cystic pimple, which lives below the surface of your skin. Instead, you want to gently exfoliate with a salicylic cleanser, to get rid of excess oil and create a clean slate for the rest of the products.  If you have dry skin, stick to your normal cleanser and use the salicylic cleanser only on the blemish.

2. Next, tackle the swelling.

Ice-cold temperatures help constrict blood vessels, so wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and hold it against the bump to reduce redness and bring down the swelling a bit. I recommend applying this technique three times an hour in 10-minute intervals (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off). You want to do this after you wash your face since washing after icing would warm the skin right back up. It is a pain to do but so is that pimple. 

3. Kill the bacteria.

Benzoyl peroxide destroys the acne-causing bacteria that are trapped within the follicle. This bacterium is a cause of inflammation.  To prevent irritation, make sure you prime the skin with a light moisturizer first, then spot-treat the cyst with a super-thin layer — seriously, less is more here — of the lowest percentage of benzoyl peroxide.  I love Neutrogena ON-THE-SPOT Acne Spot Treatment.  

4. Reduce the redness.

An over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream contains a low dose of steroids that can help shrink pimples and soothe redness. Unlike the benzoyl peroxide, you can pile this one on.  Also note, that the longer you let it sit, the more effective it will be. Apply this after you have allowed the benzoyl peroxide to dry. 

5.  Whatever you do, don’t try to pop it.

I know you’ve heard this from me before but I have to say it again: don’t pop cystic lesions. Especially if the lesion is cystic.  Cysts are deep pockets of white blood cells and should not be disrupted. Sure, some contents will come out but the vast majority will just deep dive back into your skin. This can results in scarring and discoloration.

Creator & CEO of Perfect Skin Code
Photo of Perfect Skin Code owner Kimberly Brown
Kimberly Brown

Perfect Skin Code was created by Kimberly Brown, a Physician Assistant in Dermatology, when she decided to create products for her patients who had trouble finding effective yet gentle skin care products.

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