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6 Best Adult Cystic Acne Treatments for Natural Relief

A person with dark hair is in a bathroom, looking into a mirror while touching their face, seemingly examining or popping a pimple. The image captures a moment of personal skincare, perhaps in search of one of the 6 Best Adult Cystic Acne Treatments for Natural Relief.
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Think back to your golden years:

Dances, football games, school functions, and…


Most of us experienced this skin condition at some point during our adolescence as we rode the hormonal rollercoaster of puberty, and then we outgrew it.

But dealing with severe cystic acne as an adult wears on your self-esteem just the same.

In this post, we’ll share some of the best adult cystic acne treatments you can use at home to get your clear skin back.

Let’s take a look!

What is Cystic Acne?

Big, red pimples are clogged pores formed from a buildup of dead skin cells and excess oil produced by overactive oil glands. Additionally, acne-causing bacteria often gets trapped in there, too, causing a deeper infection known as cystic acne (now more commonly called nodular acne) (1).

A cystic pimple fills with pus (a liquid filled with dead white blood cells your body sends to fight the infection), inflames the surrounding skin, and may form a painful cyst.

It’s no surprise acne is more common in teens, and it’s especially common in teens whose parents suffered from the condition. Doctors and scientists believe this is due to an increase in hormones called androgens (2).

Breakouts often occur on the back, chest, or even across the entire face. The condition may leave you with acne scars for life if the infection runs deep enough.

What Causes Cystic Acne in Adults?

In adulthood, however, the cause is a little less clear.

If you have continue to have an oily skin type into adulthood, you may be prone to acne.

Other potential causes suggest ‘hormonal acne’ might be a better name:

Women often experience adult acne breakouts due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstrual cycles, or menopause. They tend to appear on the lower part of the face. (3)

In both adult men and women, increases in the stress hormone cortisol may influence flare-ups.

Either way, you can start to see the importance of a holistic, whole-body approach when trying to clear acne.

Warning: Cystic Acne Medicine Potential Side Effects

Before we get into natural solutions for adult cystic acne, let’s take a quick look at acne products often recommended by skin care professionals.

  1. Over-the-counter medications and beauty products-Creams and face washes containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid may help achieve clearer skin as part of a daily skincare routine by drying out severe acne and reducing the bacteria producing it. This allows for a sort of “acne spot treatment”, as you can clean the individual cysts and apply the cream directly. Side effects include excess drying and peeling of the skin when used over longer periods of time, and those with sensitive skin may suffer an allergic reaction.
  2. Prescription medication-Pregnant women should not use drugs like Accutane (isotretinoin), as its ingredients harm the fetus. Furthermore, studies show it may lead to depression, suicide, and changes in liver function. (4)

With potential side effects like these, it’s no surprise you’re looking for natural solutions to take care of those cystic zits.

Here are # of our favorites:

Natural Cystic Acne Treatments

Taking a natural approach to skin care helps you target the root causes bringing about changes in your hormone levels. When pregnancy isn’t a factor, these fluctuations tend to occur from stress put on the body by habits you can change.

1. Get better quality sleep

Not getting enough sleep causes your body to produce excess cortisol, creating an unhealthy hormonal imbalance. Instead, aim for a more consistent sleep schedule that offers you around 8 hours each night, and give your body time to recover and heal.

2. Improve your diet

Research continues to suggest a strong connection between our gut and our skin. By taking care of your diet, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll look better, too. Probiotics help maintain a balance of healthy gut bacteria to strengthen your immune system, while taking a zinc supplement may help reduce a deficit that increases acne symptoms (5). Omega-3s like those from green lipped mussel oil help you reduce inflammation (6) and maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails. Also, drink enough water to keep your body hydrated. Print our Anti-inflammatory diet to take with you when you shop!

3. Stick to a healthy skincare routine

Aim for natural creams and face washes that don’t contain salicylic acid or other drying agents. You can also create your own natural exfoliator using oatmeal and lemon juice to reduce buildup of dead skin cells and bacteria. Wash your face each morning and night, and remember your sunscreen if you’re headed outdoors. You can also add in essential oils like tea tree oil, which studies suggest reduces inflamed and noninflamed lesions with fewer side effects than benzoyl peroxide (7).

4. Exercise and relieve stress

Practice deep breathing or meditation to reduce stress and maintain healthy cortisol levels. This will also help you fall and stay asleep easier. Exercising regularly will also help regulate hormones, boost your mood, and sweat out toxins. Just remember to shower and wash your face after doing so to prevent the buildup of acne-causing bacteria.

5. Wash towels, bed sheets, and pillowcases

Excess oil and bacteria can collect on the different materials that touch our face each day. You don’t want to be rubbing this all over your face. It’s a good idea to wash these items frequently with neutral detergents to slow the spread of severe cystic acne.  

6. Don’t pop pimples-use ice!

Using your fingers to pop pimples adds additional dirt, bacteria, and oil to the problem. Plus, it irritates the skin and can increase the chances of scarring. Instead, use an ice pack to cool the inflamed area. We’ve written about when to use cold therapy for inflammation before on the blog. Now is one of those times!

Conclusion: Best Natural Remedies for Cystic Acne

Struggling with cystic acne as an adult can be difficult both physically and emotionally as you work to get it under control.

But by targeting the root causes of this skin condition with a natural and holistic approach, you can regain your confidence and clear your acne for good.

Just remember to maintain your new dieting, sleep, and skincare routines after it’s gone to continue enjoying healthy skin!

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