Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What is the difference between acne and cystic acne?"
My friend said my acne might actually be cystic acne. What is the difference? Is there something I have to take like a medication if I have cystic acne?
Cystic acne is a term used to describe acne where the pimples form cysts that lie beneath the skin. Cystic acne can appear more ragged than tradition acne (we call comedonal acne). Comedonal acne is the type that forms black and white heads that can be squeezed out. Cystic acne also has the potential to form more permanent scars more so that traditional acne. Most cases of cystic acne are cared for by a dermatologist. Usually medications such as benzoyl peroxide creams, retinoid creams, topical antibiotics, and oral antibiotics are all used first. Most people with cystic acne have some response and sometimes complete responses with these medications. For those who do not respond completely, those with cystic acne are placed on the medication isotretinoin. This is a powerful and very effective medication that clears most people of even the worst cases of acne. However, there are side effects. The worst side effects are birth defects if you are female and have the potential to get pregnant. Therefore, any female placed on isotretinoin must be on two forms of birth control. If you think you may have cystic acne, I would not hesitate to see a dermatologist first so that you can get on the best treatment the earliest possible.
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