If you’ve just received a diagnosis of cystic acne, or even if you just suspect you may be suffering from it, you may be asking, “What is cystic acne?” Cystic acne, or acne vulgaris, is the most severe, and painful, form of acne.
What Is Acne ?
The pores in your skin are actually small openings through which hair grows. Each opening, or follicle, contains a hair and a sebaceous gland that produces an oil known as sebum to help lubricate the skin and remove dead skin cells. When the gland overproduces oil, the pore can become clogged with the excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Acne most often occurs on the face and shoulders, but can appear anywhere on the body. Acne symptoms can occur at any age, but are most likely to occur during puberty or during other periods of hormone change, such as during menstruation, pregnancy, times of heavy stress, a shift in hormonal birth control, or menopause.
Types of Acne
Acne comes in several forms. Blocked pores very close to the surface of the skin that aren’t covered by a layer of skin are known as comedones, or blackheads. When they are covered, they present as whiteheads. Papules form beneath the surface of the skin when a follicle becomes inflamed or infected. They show up as small, raised red bumps that may be tender to the touch. Pustules resemble papules, but they have a white tip of pus. Nodules are large painful bumps that form deep beneath the skin, at the root of the hair follicle. Finally, cysts are pus filled lumps that also form at the base of the hair follicle.
Cystic acne is characterized by the last form of damaged pore, the infected cyst. It looks like large angry red lumps on the skin. Cystic acne can be very painful, and because it occurs deep within the follicle, it is the most difficult form of acne to treat. Cystic acne can cause your skin to itch, but if you try to scratch or pop the cysts, you may actually spread the infection, and permanent scarring may occur. Even applying makeup can cause the infection to spread to other follicles.
National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health”Acne: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/
Mayo Clinic “Acne – MayoClinic.com.” http://www.mayoclinic.com