Acne & Cystic Acne: Causes & Cures

Part 2 of a 4-Part Series

I recently started a series about the causes and cures of acne and cystic acne. Click here to read part one in the series. This week, I will tackle the causes. In part 3 and 4, I will conclude the series by discussing the role of diet and will introduce a remarkable cure and case study for this troubling condition.

What Acne Is

Acne is an inflammation and infection of the pore of the hair follicle and/or the hollow tubes of the sweat glands. It occurs when the pore becomes clogged with dead skin cells, sebum, and oil, and consequently becomes home to bacteria. 

Acne occurs within the epidermis layer of the skin. Because the inflammation is close to the surface, acne can be treated through careful cleansing and topical treatments 

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is an infection and inflammation of the pore of the hair follicle and/or tubes of the sweat glands within the hypodermis layers of the skin. Because cystic acne is an infection deep within the skin, topical treatments are not as effective.  Cystic acne is a more serious infection and often requires anti-biotic intervention. 

Cleansing the Skin

The single most effective treatment to help prevent acne is careful cleansing of the skin. Cleansing the skin helps remove excess oil and dead skin cells to prevent clogging of skin pores. Cleansing the skin helps prevent bacteria from building up in clogged pores. 

Contrary to myth, blackheads are not pockets of dirt. A blackhead is simply the clogged pore of a hair follicle or sweat gland on the surface of the skin. A clogged pore can consequently become home to bacteria.  When the clogged hair follicle or sweat pore becomes infected, the result is a whitehead


The hormone testosterone has been found to influence increased production of oil from the sebaceous gland. Increased production of oil by the sebaceous gland is one of the causes of acne.  Both men and women produce testosterone and estrogen. 

Testosterone is the hormone more prevalent in men and teen-aged boys, while estrogen is the hormone more prevalent in women and teen-aged girls. This is one possible reason that acne and the more severe cystic acne is most prevalent in men and boys.

Although hormone levels play a major role in acne, careful cleansing of the skin is extremely important for preventing build-up of excess oil and dead skin cells. Over-the-counter cleansing products and daily cleansing routines can be effective treatment for mild acne. Having a daily cleansing regime can prevent acne from becoming a more serious infection, difficult to cure, and require more vigorous intervention. 

Infection & Inflammation

Cystic acne cannot be cured by over-the-counter remedies or simple cleansing. Cystic acne is an infection and inflammation in the deep layers of the dermis and hypodermis. Cystic acne must be treated from the inside, not the outside.

Dermatologists prescribe anti-biotics, and a medicine very high in Vitamin A to fight the infection and the inflammation of cystic acne.  They also use a variety of physical treatments on the skin, such as chemical peels and laser treatments which remove top layers of the skin to create access to the deeper skin layers. 

In addition to facial cleanliness, there are things an individual can do that can help improve or possibly prevent severe acne or maybe even cystic acne.

Role of Diet

It is common knowledge that deep fried foods and fatty foods containing lard, shortening, and margarine are not the best choice for a healthy diet. It turns out that those types of foods are also suspects in the production of excess skin oils, which results in acne, blackheads, and whiteheads. 

Refined carbohydrates, such as cakes, cookies, white breads and pastas, sugar and sugary drinks have been known to cause inflammation. Foods which cause inflammation should be avoided because inflammation often leads to infection.

An Ounce of Prevention

In actuality, the best treatment for both acne and cystic acne is prevention. Twice daily cleansing is extremely important to help prevent clogged pores. Clogged pores become home to bacteria, which leads to infection.

Stay Tuned

It is also extremely important to look at diet as a factor in preventing and helping treat acne and cystic acne. In Part 3 of this series, I will take a closer look at diet. And in part 4, I will finish the series by focusing on natural remedies for acne and cystic acne.

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