You know the feeling when you're basking in the glory of your relatively clear skin, and then you suddenly feel that sore, ache-y bump rising from the depths of your face, like a demon set to destroy your life? Yup, that's cystic acne.
Annoyingly, cystic zits are hormonal, under-the-skin infections that almost never come to a head, meaning you can't easily treat them like you would with other breakouts. But, as your grandmother always says, where there's a will, there's a way, and a bunch of very wonderful Internet strangers have devoted their acne-prone lives to figuring out remedies for cystic zits.
Of course, we feel the need to remind you that going to your dermatologist should be step one in your battle against acne, but because we know you
definitely probably won't do that, we rounded up the 9 best tried-and-true remedies the good people on Reddit swear by. Check them out, below.
Cover It Up
"For my under-the-skin (bitch-ass) pimples, I find that applying a bit of BP [benzoyl peroxide] gel, letting it dry, and then covering with a hydrocolloid bandage helps. I don't think it really does anything specific (other than the BP killing germs!), but I think the isolated, sterile environment helps cuts irritation and swelling, and also keeps my grubby hands off of them!" — @gotohela
Grab a Teabag
"I was skeptical AF when I read that spearmint can help acne, but I gave it a try because I like mint tea and figured why not? I tend to get super-painful cystic acne from my period (and any chronic stress). So I tried spearmint tea, and holy shit, you guys. I haven't had a major breakout EVEN ONCE since I started back in November.
I gave it several months to make sure it was really the tea, and by now I'm thoroughly convinced it's making a huge difference. Of course, spearmint tea won't work for everyone. But it was a HUGE help for me. And it's natural, tasty, and something you can buy at the store." —@Korolyeva
"So far, what works: Renee Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment (put this on as soon as you feel the cyst rising. Keep putting it on 1-2 times per day. This magic thing has reduced the recovery time of my cysts from >1 month to sometimes 2 weeks or less. Pricey, but worth it, because it has forced cysts to come to a head when they never would have otherwise)." —@gudegudegg
Draw It Out
"The Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion (can buy it on Amazon) is really good to have on hand for stuff like this, in my experience. It turns the bump into more of a whitehead, or makes it go away after a couple days (I also use it more than the 1x/day the bottle suggests!)." — @dorsetcottage
"The main part of what you're trying to control here is your body's inflammatory response—the bump is caused by edema due to plasma shifting to interstitial space. Anyway, the point is that there's a really easy, age-old method of dealing with inflammation: Ice that bitch!
Seriously, don't underestimate how much cold temperatures will mitigate the inflammatory response. Certainly not going to be a solution, but it will help prevent your body from freaking out, which is basically what turns it into a cyst." — @PrecisePrecision
Add a Buffer
Drop Some Acid
"I've had a positive experience with azelaic acid; several applications and the cystic pimple diminishes. Basically, it's the main component in Skinoren and Finacea, [but] there is also the [over-the-counter option of] The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension. I personally use Skinoren." —@sommarvinden
Pop a Pill
"Taking a normal dose of ibuprofen (or anti-inflammatory of your choice) can also help a bit with the pain and swelling. It'll still be visible and probably painful to touch, but for me, it at least makes it not have its own pulse anymore." —@niccig
"Dr. Dennis Gross Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask is my go-to treatment for cystic acne. When I feel one start, I dab some on, and typically it's gone if not next day, a couple of days later. A Sephora [sales associate] recommended it to me to help clear up my skin after years of flare-ups. I doubted, but took a sample, then bought the jar. A little goes a long way." —@janesso
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