Ask An Expert: Clear Up And Cover Up Your Cystic Acne

With cases of adult-onset acne on the rise, it's no longer something that only teenagers can complain about. No one wants to deal with pimples when they're 30, 40, 50 and beyond, especially large and painful cystic acne. That's why we brought in Miami, FL, dermatologist Andrea Trowers, MD, to help you clear it up.

Contrary to popular belief, your skin type (oily, dry, etc.) doesn't determine the likelihood of getting cystic acne. What it comes down to is how your immune system reacts to a certain type of bacteria called propionibacterium acnes, says Dr. Trowers. Every person responds differently; one person can have a lot of this bacteria on their face and have clear skin; another can have a small amount, but have a lot of cystic acne.

While you can't kill off this bacteria, you can reduce its presence on the skin. Since it likes to grow in an airless, or anaerobic, environment, sticky skin cells that sometimes clog the pores can help the bacteria grow. The best way to treat it is to use a combination of medicines that help reduce the amount of the bacteria, work to unclog pores and reduce inflammation.

In order to get the best treatment, Dr. Trowers recommends consulting with your dermatologist to help map out the cause of your acne and an appropriate treatment plan. A medication commonly used is Epiduo because it contains benzoyl peroxide and Differin. It's basically a two-in-one medication that unclogs pores and helps kill the bacteria. In addition to this, a dermatologist may also prescribe taking antibiotics by the mouth to help kill the bacteria.

Keep in mind that you may not see results for about three to four months, so it's important to be religious with your medication. If you still don't see any results past this time period, then you should consult with your dermatologist for a new plan.

While you're waiting for your acne to clear up, here are some tips to help cover it up. Makeup artist Tricia Johnson recommends applying a mineral foundation with a satin finish to avoid the oily look. Tap the foundation into the skin with a foundation brush, and then go over the really red spot with concealer. She recommends using Youngblood Ultimate Concealer ($24) because it provides really good coverage that can even hide tattoos.

Related Links:
What Your Adult Acne Breakouts Actually Mean
Stop Redness With These Top Inflammation Fighters


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  • Jolene Cali

    I can't disagree with much of this. I was almost half expecting some wild remedy. :) When I was younger I had very bad cystic acne. I took tetracycline, minocycline, doxicycline, I used topicals like Retin-A, Cleocin-T, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide. I began using the Citrus Clear products on a regular, daily basis. Also I never touch my hands to my face, and the result has been acne free. NOt even an occasional pimple.

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  • I find that Tazorac works best for my cystic acne. It is much stronger than Differin and Duac.

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  • Pal

    I get these nodules on the areas of my face that are exposed to the most oil. No doubt about that.

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  • anonymous

    Duality MD has been a MIRACLE for me & several of my friends who also suffer from acne! For the first time in my life, my skin is completely clear of cystic acne! I LOVE my doctor for recommending this product--I've sent a bunch of friends to him & they've all had amazing results too!

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  • resurfaceskin

    About the nodular question: nodules & cysts appear similar, but they are different. Check out this website for more information. http://www.acne.org/types-of-acne.html

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    5
  • Marcia

    Monthly facials help dislodge all of the debris in my pores.

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