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The Beauty Beat

What is Cystic Acne? And What Can You Do About It?

Nearly everyone gets pimples and breakouts every once in a while, but people who experience severe, cystic acne know how difficult it can be to treat them. Keep reading if you think you have cystic acne and are looking for ways to treat stubborn breakouts.

What is cystic acne?

Cystic acne, also known as a blind pimple, is an inflammatory condition that is the most severe form of acne and typically causes “painful, pus-filled pimples that form deep underneath the skin.”


Acne generally develops when dead skin cells and oil clog your skin pores. Cystic acne is caused by bacteria buildup deep within hair follicles, which causes swelling and inflammation. These acne cysts can be extremely painful and are the most likely to cause scarring. 

What triggers cystic acne?

There are a variety of causes for cystic acne, including age, family history, and hormone changes. Age can be a cause because teenagers tend to be more prone to developing cystic acne. A family history of cystic acne can also cause it. Hormone changes during the teenage years and menopause, polycystic ovary disease (PCOS), and high stress levels can also trigger cystic acne. 

What does cystic acne look like?

Cystic acne can take various forms, but it’s essential to watch out for the most common symptoms.


An acne cyst can look like a red bump under the skin, crusty, or oozing pus from a white-yellow bump. These cysts vary in size; they can be as small as a pea or as large as a dime. In general, they tend to be painful and tender to touch.


A cystic acne breakout can happen in a variety of places. They are the most common on the face, but they can also develop on your back, chest, shoulders, arms, and neck. 

How to get rid of cystic acne

While it may be highly tempting to attempt to empty or “pop” your cystic acne to get rid of it quickly, this only succeeds in causing more irritation of your skin. However, it has been proven that irritating your skin will lead to even more breakouts. 


Instead, we recommend a gentle skincare routine. It is also vital to use oil-free skincare products. Clogged pores cause acne, so steer clear of oil-based products that can further clog your pores. 

Skin Spa treatments for cystic acne

If you are looking for a cystic acne treatment that won’t aggravate your skin, a HydraFacial may be the perfect choice for you. 


A Hydrafacial cleanses, extracts, and hydrates your skin in a treatment that lasts only 45 minutes. The licensed estheticians at SkinSpa use the Vortex-Fusion Delivery System to extract impurities from the skin while delivering deep hydration. The Vortex-Fusion Delivery System is a patented HydraFacial tool that feels like a gentle massage.


While peels and extractions can irritate the skin, the HydraFacial is a fast and gentle treatment. It is the perfect choice for most people, but you can always contact our estheticians with any questions if you have concerns.

Meet the author

Katie Werbowski
Director of Brand Strategy & Development at Skin Spa New York

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