Does Cystic Acne Turn Into Hard Lumps?

Treat cystic acne early and avoid squeezing for the best results.

Photo: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Discovering a new zit is never fun. It's even worse when it's the painful, lumpy sort that forms deep underneath your skin. This type of acne is referred to as cystic acne. The lumps are pus filled and will not turn into hard lumps. If you've discovered a hard lump, it's likely an acne nodule. While cystic acne is pus filled, MayoClinic.com notes that acne nodules are solid and formed from a buildup of secretion in the hair follicles. Unfortunately, both types of acne can be painful and lead to scarring.

Background

Cystic acne is one of the more severe types of acne. It is more difficult to treat than blackheads or whiteheads. The cysts can be painful and are more likely to lead to scarring than other types of acne. Cystic acne often sticks around a lot longer than other types of acne, which can be extremely stressful for those of you who suffer from it. If you suffer from cystic acne, the best thing to do is seek treatment and try not to let it get you down by focusing on your otherwise fabulous self.

Causes

Acne is caused by an over-production of sebum, an oil that hydrates the skin. When your body produces too much, dead skin cells can stick together and clog pores, resulting in breakouts. If the clogged pore becomes infected with too much bacteria, an acne cyst can form. The exact reason your skin may produce too much sebum is unknown, but two likely causes are hormones and genetics.

Treatment

Treating cystic acne can be tough. If you're lucky, you might have success with an over-the-counter product that contains benzoyl peroxide. If your skin only breaks out monthly, talk to your gynecologist about a birth control that helps alleviate acne. Unfortunately, many people with regular, cystic acne don't see results without a prescription treatment. The American Academy of Dermatology notes that cystic acne can be treated with any combination of a topical cream, antibiotics, birth control or a procedure called acne removal. Acne removal is a drainage procedure performed on cystic acne that doesn't respond to other types of medication. It can ease the pain and lessen the chance of scarring.

Warning

It's tempting to pick or squeeze a large, cystic zit. Unfortunately, doing so practically guarantees that you'll be left with a scar. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that squeezing can even worsen your zit by increasing the odds that it gets re-infected with additional bacteria. Try to settle for covering it with a concealer that won't clog pores. If you have acne scars from past cysts, talk to a dermatologist about a chemical peel or other means to get rid of your scars for good.

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