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Cystic Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that is characterized by large, painful, and deep-rooted cysts that develop beneath the skin. It is caused by a combination of factors including hormonal imbalances, excess oil production, and bacteria. Dr. Karan Chopra, a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, provides expert insights into this condition.

Causes of Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is primarily caused by hormonal imbalances, particularly an increase in androgen levels. Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce more oil, leading to clogged pores. This excess oil, along with dead skin cells and bacteria, creates an ideal environment for the development of cystic acne.

Other factors that can contribute to the development of cystic acne include:

  • Genetics: Individuals with a family history of severe acne are more likely to develop cystic acne.
  • Diet: Consuming high-glycemic foods and dairy products has been linked to an increased risk of developing cystic acne.
  • Stress: Chronic stress can worsen hormonal imbalances and trigger acne breakouts.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to certain pollutants and chemicals can irritate the skin and contribute to the development of cystic acne.

Symptoms of Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is characterized by the presence of large, painful, and inflamed cysts beneath the skin. These cysts are typically filled with pus and can be red or purple in color. They are often tender to the touch and can cause significant discomfort.

In addition to the physical symptoms, cystic acne can also have a significant impact on an individual’s emotional well-being. The visible nature of the cysts can lead to self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and even depression.

Treatment Options for Cystic Acne

Effective treatment of cystic acne requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying causes and reduces inflammation. Dr. Karan Chopra offers a range of treatment options tailored to each patient’s unique needs:

  • Topical Medications: Prescription-strength topical medications containing retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, or antibiotics can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria.
  • Oral Medications: Oral antibiotics, hormonal medications, and isotretinoin (Accutane) may be prescribed to target the underlying hormonal imbalances and reduce oil production.
  • Intralesional Injections: In severe cases, Dr. Chopra may administer corticosteroid injections directly into the cysts to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Procedural Treatments: Dr. Chopra offers advanced procedural treatments such as chemical peels, laser therapy, and photodynamic therapy to target acne-causing bacteria and promote skin rejuvenation.

It is important to note that the treatment of cystic acne requires patience and consistency. Results may take time to become visible, and multiple treatment sessions may be necessary to achieve optimal outcomes.


Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that can cause significant physical and emotional distress. Dr. Karan Chopra, a renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon, offers a comprehensive range of treatment options to address this condition. If you are struggling with cystic acne, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Contact Dr. Chopra today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards achieving clear and healthy skin.

Contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Karan Chopra.

FAQs about Cystic Acne

What is cystic acne?

Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that is characterized by large, painful, and deep-rooted cysts or nodules. It is caused by an overproduction of oil, clogged pores, and bacteria on the skin.

How is cystic acne treated?

Treatment for cystic acne may include a combination of topical medications, oral antibiotics, hormonal therapy, and isotretinoin (Accutane). In some cases, procedures like corticosteroid injections or drainage of the cysts may be necessary.

Can cystic acne leave scars?

Yes, cystic acne can leave scars. The inflammation and deep lesions associated with cystic acne can cause permanent scarring. It is important to seek early and effective treatment to minimize the risk of scarring.

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