Why Am I Suddenly Getting Cystic Acne?

Have you recently found yourself dealing with unexpected and frustrating outbreaks of cystic acne? If so, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll explore the possible reasons behind this sudden occurrence, shedding light on the potential triggers and providing helpful tips to manage and possibly prevent future episodes. So, let’s dive right in and understand why your skin might be experiencing these troublesome breakouts.

Causes of Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that occurs when the pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria, leading to inflammation and painful cysts. While the exact cause of cystic acne is not fully understood, there are several factors that are believed to contribute to its development. These factors include hormonal changes, genetics, stress, diet and lifestyle, and certain medications.

Hormonal Changes

One of the most common causes of cystic acne is hormonal changes. During puberty, hormone levels fluctuate, leading to increased oil production and the development of acne. Similarly, women may experience cystic acne flare-ups during their menstrual cycle, as hormone levels rise and fall.

Pregnancy can also trigger hormonal changes that result in cystic acne. The hormonal imbalances that occur during pregnancy can lead to increased sebum production and clogged pores. Additionally, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often experience hormonal imbalances, which can contribute to the development of cystic acne.


Genetics play a significant role in determining who is more prone to developing cystic acne. If you have a family history of acne, particularly severe forms like cystic acne, you may be genetically predisposed to developing it. Inherited traits can influence factors such as hormone regulation, sebum production, and inflammation, all of which are involved in the development of cystic acne.

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Stress can have a significant impact on your overall health, including your skin. When you are under stress, your body releases hormones, such as cortisol, which can disrupt the balance of hormones in your body. This hormonal imbalance can trigger an increase in sebum production and inflammation, leading to the development of cystic acne.

Additionally, stress can lead to unhealthy habits, such as poor diet, inadequate sleep, and lack of exercise, which can further contribute to the development of cystic acne. It is important to find healthy ways to manage and reduce stress to help prevent and treat cystic acne.

Diet and Lifestyle

Your diet and lifestyle can also play a role in the development of cystic acne. Consuming high glycemic index foods, such as sugary snacks and processed carbohydrates, can cause a spike in insulin levels, leading to increased sebum production and clogged pores. Dairy products have also been linked to the development of cystic acne, as they can trigger hormonal changes and inflammation in some individuals.

Processed foods, high in unhealthy fats and additives, can also contribute to the development of cystic acne. Additionally, habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt hormone levels and impair the body’s ability to fight off acne-causing bacteria.

Furthermore, inadequate hygiene, such as infrequent washing of the face and failure to remove makeup, can contribute to the development of cystic acne. It is essential to maintain a proper skincare routine and avoid using comedogenic products that can clog pores and worsen acne.


Certain medications have been associated with the development of cystic acne. Androgen-containing medications, such as birth control pills and anabolic steroids, can stimulate oil production in the skin, leading to the formation of cystic acne. Similarly, corticosteroids, which are commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions, can cause acne as a side effect.

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Other medications, such as anti-epileptic drugs and lithium, have also been linked to the development of acne. If you are taking any medication and experiencing cystic acne, it is essential to consult with your healthcare provider to explore alternative treatment options.

Skin Care Routine and Products

Your skincare routine and the products you use on your skin can also contribute to the development of cystic acne. Using harsh skin care products that contain irritating ingredients can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt its protective barrier, leading to increased sebum production and inflammation.

Over-washing or over-exfoliating the skin can also disrupt the skin’s natural balance and cause irritation, leading to cystic acne. It is important to cleanse the skin gently and avoid excessive scrubbing or using harsh exfoliants.

Additionally, not moisturizing properly can lead to dryness and irritation, which can trigger the skin to produce more oil and worsen cystic acne. Using comedogenic products, such as oils and heavy creams, can also clog the pores and contribute to the development of acne.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can also influence the development of cystic acne. Pollution, particularly in urban areas, can contribute to the accumulation of dirt, bacteria, and other pollutants on the skin, clogging pores and triggering acne breakouts. Additionally, living in a humid climate can lead to increased sweat production, which can mix with oil and dead skin cells, clogging pores and causing cystic acne.

Preventing and Treating Cystic Acne

Preventing and treating cystic acne requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying causes and triggers. Maintaining a healthy diet that is low in high glycemic index foods and dairy products can help regulate hormone levels and reduce inflammation. Proper hygiene and skincare, including gentle cleansing, moisturizing, and avoiding comedogenic products, are essential for preventing and treating cystic acne.

Reducing stress through techniques such as exercise, meditation, and relaxation exercises can also help manage hormone levels and prevent cystic acne breakouts. Identifying and avoiding triggering factors, such as certain medications or environmental pollutants, can be beneficial in preventing cystic acne.

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In some cases, dermatological treatment may be necessary to manage cystic acne. Consulting a dermatologist is recommended, as they can provide professional advice, prescribe medications or topical treatments, and recommend lifestyle changes to effectively manage and treat cystic acne. It is important to follow the recommended treatment plan and maintain ongoing communication with the dermatologist to achieve the best results.

Consulting a Dermatologist

If you are experiencing persistent or severe cystic acne, it is important to consult a dermatologist for professional advice and treatment. A dermatologist can assess your specific condition and recommend appropriate medications and treatments tailored to your needs.

Prescribed medications for cystic acne may include topical creams or gels containing retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, or antibiotics to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. In severe cases, oral medications, such as isotretinoin, may be prescribed to regulate sebum production and prevent future breakouts.

In addition to medications, a dermatologist may provide lifestyle recommendations to help prevent cystic acne. These recommendations may include maintaining a healthy diet, practicing proper hygiene and skincare, managing stress, and avoiding specific triggers known to worsen cystic acne.

Remember, every individual’s skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. With the guidance and expertise of a dermatologist, you can develop an effective treatment plan to manage and prevent cystic acne, leading to clearer and healthier skin.