cystic acne treatment clinic in Singapore

What Causes Cystic Acne?

What causes cystic acne? Genetics, stress, diet and hormones are a variety of factors that may play a role in cystic acne formation. Although the condition is more common in men, it can also affect women and cause significant skin damage.

Cystic acne is a severe form of acne vulgaris that is deep seated within the skin. When your acne feels large and gives you a painful throbbing sensation,  and is located near the jawline and chin, chances are you have Cystic Acne.

Cystic Acne can range in different sizes, from a few millimeters (microcyst) to a few centimeters in diameter. They are commonly found in the cheeks, jawline, neck and upper trunk area.

nodular cystic acne treatment clinic in Singapore
Nodular Cystic Acne

How is Cystic Acne Different from Milder Acne?

Acne cysts are located in the deeper layers of the skin unlike milder acne, making off the counter products, medicated acne creams and chemical peels ineffective at treating it.

Cystic acne causes more extensive inflammation and damage within the dermal layer of the skin. They are not ‘poppable’ and often cause pain and distress. Cystic acne have a high risk of scarring if left untreated.

acne cream and acne treatment

What can I do to Avoid Cystic Acne?

Good question. When treating acne, it is important to start treatment early to avoid worsening of your acne and acne scarring.

While there is currently no clear and direct evidence linking foods to acne, you may want to slow down on high glycaemic index foods (e.g. white bread, biscuits, glutinous rice) and dairy products.

        Skin Care Tips:

  • Avoid penetrating oils such as Lanolin and Isopropyl myristate
  • Go Fragrance Free
  • Use Colour Cosmetics with Caution, especially if it contains Mica and Red dye.
  • Go easy on Eye cream because they have a thicker formulation.
  • Wash, Before and After Work Out
  • Avoid Wax and Petroleum containing Lipsticks and balms as they cause acne around the mouth.

What Treatment Options are Available for Acne Cyst?

The treatment of acne cyst will depend on the severity of your acne, your medical history, allergies, skin type and sensitivity.

  • Intralesional Anti-inflammatory Injections

This procedure is suitable for large, painful and inflammed acne cyst. The acne cyst is directly injected with anti-inflammatory medication, and you will find quick relief in the symptoms over the next few days. Repeated treatments may be necessary at intervals of 4 weeks if the cysts are stubborn.

  • Drainage of Cyst

When there is accumulation of pus from a large cyst, it may be necessary to drain it out. It brings quick relief of pain and discomfort. A small slit under local anaesthesia allows us to tackle cyst that are pus-filled, recovery is excellent and scarring minimal. 

  • Oral Retinoids

Oral retinoids is a Vitamin A based medication, and is currently the most effective oral treatment for severe forms of acne, including multiple cystic acne. The details of the medication, its side effects and suitability will be discussed during consultation. 

  • Laser Cyst Removal

This is an advanced and precise technique to remove multiple small cysts in a single sitting. The Laser beam is focused to make an entry point onto the skin surface to facilitate extraction of the cyst. Healing time is excellent and is associated with a good cosmetic outcome.

Dr Moses Ng dermatologist

cystic acne

Cystic acne cases make up about 30-40% of my acne cases. A lot of individuals with cystic acne experience physical pain and feel troubled over their skin condition. A course of oral isotretinoin is clinically effective for this severe form of acne. Most clear with one course of treatment, with more than 80% maintaining good acne control with only topical creams after treatment.

Dr. Moses Ng

More Information:

  1. Acne – American Academy of Dermatology.
  2. Acne – British Association of Dermatologists.

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Related Information:


  1. Lee JW, Yoo KH, Park KY, Han TY, Li K, Seo SJ, et al. Effectiveness of Conventional, Low-dose and Intermittent Oral Isotretinoin in the Treatment of Acne: A Randomized, Controlled Comparative study. Br J Dermatol. 2010 Nov 29.
  2. Davis EC, Callender VD. A review of acne in ethnic skin: pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and management strategies. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Apr. 3(4):24-38.