Cystic acne isn’t just your run-of-the-mill pimple. It’s a deeper, more stubborn issue that can wreak havoc on your skin and self-esteem.

“Cystic acne is a severe form where you can develop red, painful pus-filled cysts under the skin,” said Sophia Ederaine, a clinic-trained physician. “This form of acne is more prone to teenagers and adolescents, likely due to hormonal changes they experience during puberty.”

Cystic acne also is common in women with conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOs), that have hormone imbalances. It can occur during menstruation and pregnancy.

Can You Treat Cystic Acne At Home?

Cystic acne is the “heavyweight champion” of acne types. Ederaine advises working with a board-certified dermatologist to treat your cystic acne, long-term scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is essential for Black women because post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation tends to be more prevalent for them.

She recommends using gentle products on skin impacted with cystic acne. “It is essential to use gentle skin cleansers instead of harsh soaps or scrubs, which can lead to skin irritation and dryness, she said. “Aggressive scrubbing and picking of the skin is discouraged as it may promote the development of new acne lesions and scarring.”

Best Overall

Differin Gel

Differin Gel is a game-changer for women battling cystic acne. Its potent, prescription-strength formula tackles deep-seated blemishes without the fuss. A thin layer at bedtime can give you clearer, smoother skin in the morning.

Most Gentle

CeraVe’s Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

CeraVe’s Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser is perfect for battling stubborn breakouts from cystic acne. Due to the benzoyl peroxide it causes this cleanser to dive deep to clear acne and prevents future flare-ups without drying out your skin.

Best Product for Cutibacterium Acnes

PanOxyl Benzoyle Peroxide Acne Foaming Wash

PanOxyl’s Acne Foaming Wash is a powerhouse in the fight against stubborn acne. Packed with 10 percent benzoyl peroxide, this maximum strength antimicrobial formula targets pesky blemishes, leaving your skin clear and confident.

Best Product for PIH

The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Serum

The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Serum is a skincare powerhouse designed to tackle redness, uneven skin tone, and blemishes. It has a 10 percent concentration of azelaic acid, so this lightweight serum effortlessly combats pesky skin concerns.

Best Retinoid for Scarring

CeraVe’s Resurfacing Retinol Face Serum

CeraVe’s Resurfacing Retinol Face Serum is great for those with stubborn acne and uneven skin texture. Packed with encapsulated retinol, it effortlessly smooths and refines the skin.

Best Sunscreen for Cystic Acne

EltaMD’s UV Clear Face Sunscreen

EltaMD’s UV Clear Face Sunscreen is a big contender in sun protection for women. A lightweight, non-greasy formula effortlessly blends into the skin and provides broad-spectrum SPF 46 coverage. It shields against harmful UVA and UVB rays. It also is packed with antioxidants to combat free radicals, making it an ideal daily defense for your skin.

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