Acne is a persistent skin condition that comes in many degrees of severity, and cystic acne is considered to be among the most serious of them all. As a refresher, acne arises when the hair follicles in the skin get clogged. This blockage prevents dead skin cells and sebum—a natural body oil that prevents dry skin—from rising to the surface of the skin, causing a whole host of symptoms like blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and other blemishes. However, not all acne is the same as it is classified into different types, one of which is the severe skin condition called cystic acne. Read on as we further delve into why cystic acne occurs, how our hormones are considered to play a big role in the process, and when you should seek acne treatment in Singapore.
An overview of cystic acne
Cystic acne is a type of acne wherein bacteria enters the skin pores and gets added into the equation of trapped sebum and dead skin cells, resulting in inflammation and infection deep within the skin. This inflammation manifests as painful, pus-filled pimples called acne cysts underneath the skin that are more likely to cause permanent skin damage due to scarring and will require cystic acne treatment to resolve.
While acne cysts often resemble another type of skin infection called boils, they can also develop into spots characterised by:
- Red lumps under the skin
- Tenderness or pain when touched
- A whitish-yellow head that oozes pus
Lastly, acne cysts don’t just appear on the face and may also pop up in your neck, shoulders, upper arms, chest, back, and buttocks.
How hormones influence cystic acne
Several factors may put a person at a higher risk of developing acne, such as age, family history, medications, and hormones, which are the main focus of this article. The reason hormones are influential in the rise of acne is because they cause nearly every teenager and young adult in their 20s to develop the skin condition. At this time, our skin becomes easily affected by the hormones circulating within our bodies. Not only that, but many other changes that occur during our adolescent years are also associated with these hormones, including changes in our skin.
Androgens, or male sex hormones, are believed to be the leading cause of acne. These increase in both girls and boys during puberty and may also fluctuate during women’s menstrual cycle and pregnancy, hence why they may experience adult acne.
The increase in androgens during puberty can trigger acne as it enlarges the oil glands in our skin, resulting in increased sebum production. Too much sebum causes the pores to clog up, preventing our body oil from moving out of the oil glands and onto the skin’s surface. Ultimately, this blockage can attract bacteria that cause swelling and redness associated with spots.
Management and treatment for cystic acne
When you notice acne cysts anywhere in your body, it is best not to pop or pick at them so they do not open and cause scarring or lead to bacterial infections like cellulitis. It is best to just wait it out or seek help from a dermatologist, as these lumps generally diminish or go away on their own as your hormone levels return to normal.
That said, this is not always the case; hence, the next option is to seek professional help for guaranteed results instead of trying various over-the-counter products that may do more harm than good. Once an acne cyst clears up, the site where it used to be may change in pigmentation and leave temporary spots that appear black, brown, red, purple, or pink, eventually fading over time.
The bottom line
If left untreated, cystic acne can have a significant negative impact on one’s appearance and cause anxiety or depression as a result. As such, if your cystic acne is bothering you, talk with your healthcare provider or consult with a dermatologist and avoid picking on the swollen bumps on your skin, no matter how tempting it may be. Doing so will likely lead to scarring or develop infections that can make the problem worse, allowing you to achieve acne-clear skin.
Consider visiting our Woodlands aesthetics medical clinic, conveniently situated near Bukit Panjang MRT station, or our Hougang aesthetics clinic, located near Kovan MRT station. Our expert teams at both locations are ready to assist you with tailored treatments and advice for your acne concerns. We’re committed to providing accessible and effective solutions to enhance your skin health. Feel free to reach out to us today to learn more about our services and schedule your consultation.