Unlike other milder forms of acne, cystic acne is noticeably painful and occurs when oil and dead scalp cells build up deep down in hair follicles or pores. Cystic acne is most common during puberty for teenagers, but sadly, it can continue into the adult years, especially when there is a hormonal imbalance. For adult girls, it’s common to to experience cystic acne around their menstrual cycles, especially on the the jawline and chin, which are the common areas for hormonally motivated breakouts and this is often worse in women with PCOS but you don’t have to have PCOS to experience hormonal acne.
The basic fact is that you’re body is trying to excrete toxins, through the wrong channel, ie your skin, it should be pushing these toxins and excess hormones out through the bowels and then, hello, no nasty pimples. Addressing the underlying hormonal imbalance is a must and of course this involves a whole heap of other things you can be doing too, let me explain!
Cystic Acne Symptoms
Acne vulgaris is the medical name for common acne which most teenagers experience through puberty and in fact anyone who has a bit of a toxic lifestyle will sprout a zit here or there! Cystic acne, medically referred to as Acne conglobata, is a more serious and more rare form of acne that occurs mainly in young men, but it can affect people of both sexes and various ages, we especially see this in women who have PCOS. Cystic acne occurs when your skin’s pores get clogged with oil and dead skin cells, toxins and become inflamed, giving them there large, red lumpy appearance. It becomes cystic acne when the pore ruptures underneath the scalp, which causes the inflammation to spill out into the surrounding skin tissue and so the body very cleverly (but very inconveiniently) creates a cysts around the area to contain the spilling toxins which can easily become infected with bacteria causing more break outs. This is your body’s way of containing the infection and inflammation, which can be dangerous to the body creating a form of sepsis. So there you have a large red lump on your skin as a result.
Symptoms of cystic acne include : large, red and painful breakouts on the face, chest, back, upper arms, shoulders and/ or thighs. They appear as raised, red bumps that generally do not have a whitehead and are quite painful if you try and poke and prod them! Sometimes they are not even visible on the surface but you know they are there as they are quite painful, this just means they are more under the surface, but still have the same clogged pore and toxic presentation. Cystic acne is the major cause of poor self esteem and low confidence especially if they occur on the face.
The unique appearance of a cystic acne is due to the acute damage to the oil gland causing intense inflammation and irritation, which leads to redness, swelling and soreness. Cystic acne is easy to diagnose to by a dermatologist and does not require any special tests.
Cystic acne can be caused by or related to:
It’s most common in teenage boys and young men. It’s believed that hormones called androgens can play a part in the development of cystic acne in teens when there is an increase in androgens. Such an increase leads to changes in your skin that can result in clogged pores and acne.
Cystic acne doesn’t only affect men, though. For women, hormone changes that trigger cystic acne can be brought on by menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause. Cystic acne is also more common among women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome.
This is where exercise and saunas are wonderful as they will help to open the pores and releases the blockages
We know that when toxins and foreign unnatural chemical based products (most, not all) enter the body, our body’s natural response is to remove them! But if you liver and kidney’s are already overwhelmed with toxins, your bowels sluggish and clogged with too many toxins and mucus, plaque and all that other toxic stuff, these chemicals will be redirected and removed via our skin causing rashes and acne!
Cystic acne often runs in families. If one or both of your mothers had severe cystic acne, then you have a greater chance of having it as well. However with recent research in the last 5-10 years on Epigenetics, we now understand that the immediate cellular environment and things such as stress, diet, toxicity etc have a far greater impact upon our DNA and cells, meaning we are definetely not a victim to our poor genetics, so you can completely change your own health income based on the foods you eat and the positive lifestyle choices you make so you won’t follow in your mums and your mum’s mums footsteps if you choose to do things differently! The same very much applies for Breast cancer and genetics.
Melasma is a skin condition that can occur as a result of hormonal imbalances.
Although genetics play a part, it is primarily bought on by the changing levels of Progesterone and Oestrogen making it more common to occur during or after a pregnancy, however it isn’t always associated with a pregnancy.
Melasma occurs when the melanocytes, the cells that cause skin pigmentation are stimulated by abnormal levels of progesterone and estrogen. This causes these cells to produce extra levels of melanin -the compound responsible for skin pigmentation), resulting in skin discoloration.
The primary presentation of melasma is skin discoloration or pigmentation which affect either the epidermis (top layer of skin) or the dermis (second layer of skin) or both. Melasma of the epidermis tends to cause spots with a dark brown color and a well-defined border. Melasma of the dermis tends to cause lighter spots that are not as well defined. The end result is varying colours and pigementations of the skin which can look blotchy, spotty or patterned. If the melasma is affecting both layers of the skin, it will cause a mixture of light and dark spots.
Melasma can take a long time to treat, with conventional medicine implementing sun protection (such as sunscreen) all throughout the year, usage of bleaching creams, or using mild solutions of cleanser. This treatments may irritate the skin and cause post-inflammatory pigmentation. Other, stronger treatments include corticosteroid creams and salicylic acid to treat to peel off the pigments. These methods may not be completely successful and commonly need several months to be effective. However we know that addressing the underlying hormonal imbalance is the best way to target the cause of the pigementation, and the skin will then rebalance and repair itself. All of these issues are currently being balanced within the Balance Me program.
Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that most often affects the face and although it is often mistaken for acne, eczema, or a skin allergy it does differ slightly in its presentation, but the underlying driver is commonly associated with hormonal imbalances.
Signs and symptoms of rosacea may include:
Hormonal imbalances is the major underlying driver of this condition, however certain lifestyle factors seem to trigger it or flare it up, these include:
Generally speaking all of the above simply magnify the level of inflammation which is already present due to the hormonal imbalance, elevated stress chemicals and toxicity within the body.
Anyone can develop rosacea. But you may be more likely to develop it if you:
Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system (adrenal glands, hypothalamus, kidneys, ovaries, pancreas, pituitary gland and thyroid). They regulate processes such as development, digestion, growth, metabolism, mood control and reproduction.
Hormonal imbalances—whether due to pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause, endocrine disorders, or stress—cause reactions in the body and skin that can lead to rosacea symptoms. While hormone levels are difficult to detect and can fluctuate unpredictably, medical testing may help determine if hormonal imbalances are at the root of the rosacea problem. The following hormones are mainly associated with rosacea.
Estrogen has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce oil gland activity and size, tighten pores, create strong collagen and elastin, promote hydration and ward off aging. However, as estrogen production slows temporarily during menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause, rosacea symptoms start to appear.
Lower and slower estrogen production cause increased oil production, swelling, inflammation, slower cell renewal, collagen and elastin loss and dryness. The oil creates a perfect haven for the microscopic mite that thrives in rosacea sufferers. The inflammation and loss of elasticity weakens capillaries, which need elasticity to expand and contract according to blood flow.
Testosterone increases with menopause, triggers oil production and creates the ideal environment for the microscopic skin mite. People mistakenly assume the bumps and pimples they see with menopause are acne, not knowing that hormonal imbalances of menopause can cause rosacea too.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a precursor to sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), also plays a role in the development of rosacea. Aging, menopause, high sugar diets, stress and medications can decrease DHEA, leaving the skin vulnerable to the negative effects of cortisol and an impaired immune system. Acute or adrenal stress can raise DHEA, occurring when adrenals attempt to produce cortisol to cope with stress, but do not produce enough, resulting in a hormonal imbalance.
Addison’s Disease, a rare adrenal insufficiency disease, plus other endocrine disorders are also linked with rosacea. HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and DHEA are considered anti-aging hormones. Production of HGH normally declines with age, especially in women after menopause. Thyroid hormones cause skin to become warm, sweaty and flushed, which are key rosacea symptoms.
Ok I’m kidding myself I know, of course you are going to squeeze it, but here’s why you should be careful. Cystic acne, unlike common acne, typically does not give you “poppable” head. Due to the the depth of cystic acne lesions, picking or squeezing can be completely ineffective and will likely extend healing day from days to weeks. The more you touch an infected pimple, the angrier and more unsightly it’s going to become. If “you’re just trying to” pop cystic acne, you’re just going to spread the breakout underneath the scalp. In addition, you can easily end up with scarring that lasts well beyond the pimple, perhaps even forever. Two words to remember with cystic acne: Hands off! Or for god sake at least cover your hands in Tea tree oil before you do it as it will prevent it from getting infected.
2. Ice It
You can apply an ice cube directly to a breakout for several seconds to constrict the small blood vessels feeding the painful cyst. The ice helps immediately decrease the size and redness of the offending acne.
3. Adopt a Healthy Skin Care Routine
Maintain a simple, calming scalp care routine that avoids heavy and scented moisturizers. Before applying moisturizer daily, always make sure that your scalp is thoroughly exfoliated and clean. An oil-free and unscented moisturizer is a great choice.
To encourage healthy skin turnover and growth, make sure to utilize exfoliants that are effective but not harsh and abrasive. Some good alternatives include glycolic acid and fruit enzymes. When you’re in the sunshine, the best sunblocks to use are all-natural sunblocks to help reduce the chances of acne scarring. For scars, a natural vitamin C product can help. Some cystic acne scars can regrettably take months to mend, but don’t lose hope.
4. Hygiene – Towels and Pillowcases
Something you might not think about is what else touches your face daily, like towels and pillowcases. To reduce the chances of irritation and sensitivity, it’s a really smart notion to avoid cleaning these items with strong cleansers and bleaches. Instead, opt for natural and unscented laundry products, like my Homemade Laundry Soap. You also want to change your towels and pillowcases often to avoid the presence and spread of bacteria, which only induce your acne worse.
6. The Cystic Acne Diet
Foods to Avoid :
Refined processed Sugar:
Caffeine and chocolate:
Fried and fast foods: These foods are also highly processed and low in fiber. Additionally, they contain a number of ingredients that cause inflammation, including hydrogenated oils, sodium, chemicals, flavorings and sugar.
Foods to Eat :
Probiotic-rich foods: The healthier your gut is, the better your balance of good versus bad bacteria. When you ingest probiotic-rich foods like kefir and cultured vegetables, the probiotics line your gut and create a healthy, sealed roadblock that prevents inflammation that can trigger acne. One Korean study of 56 acne patients found that drinking a Lactobacillus-fermented dairy liquor effectively reduced their total acne lesion counting and decreased oil production over 12 weeks.( 3) High-zinc foods: People with acne tend to be low in zinc so you definitely want to increase your dietary intake of zinc by consuming things like grass-fed beef, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and cashews to prevent a zinc deficiency. Zinc also supports a healthy digestive tract, which improves skin health.Vitamin A-rich foods: Foods high in vitamin A like kale, spinach, sweet potatoes and carrots fight infection and speed healing, two things you definitely require when you’re trying to get rid of cystic acne.( 4) Fiber-rich foods: Devouring high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and oatmeal encourages colon cleansing as well as the growth of good bacteria in the gut, both of which can help eradicate cystic acne.High-quality protein foods: Grass-fed beef, organic chicken, wild-caught fish and free-range eggs are high in protein and nutrients and help balance blood sugar, a key component in the fight against cystic acne.Liver-supportive foods: Since hormones are processed in the liver, feeing liver-supportive foods can help clear up acne. Eat more cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower as well as leafy greens and high-fiber fruits, such as pears and apple, for improved liver function.
Supplements to Consume :
Probiotics( 10,000 IU to 50,000 IU daily, typically two to three capsules twice daily ). Taking probiotics can boost your immunity and help your internal fight against cystic acne. You can also use probiotic scalp care products, which can provide a protective external shield.Omega -3 fatty acids( 1,000 milligrams of fish oil/ cod liver oil daily or 3,000 milligrams of flaxseed or chia seed oil ).
Omega -3 helps reduce inflammation and subsistence hormone balance.
You can also consider gamma-linolenic acid( GLA) found in evening primrose and borage oil for hormonal balance. One scientific study specifically found that after 10 weeks of omega -3 fatty acid or GLA supplementation, inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions decreased significantly.( 5) Zinc( 25-30 milligrams twice daily ). Research suggests that people with acne have lower blood and scalp levels of zinc. Taking zinc by mouth helps treat and reduce acne.
Vitex( 160 milligrams of vitex/ chasteberry ). This herbal remedy is specifically recommended for hormonally induced acne.( 6) Guggul or guggulsterone( 25 milligrams twice daily ). Guggul is made from the sap of a tree native to India. For individuals suffering from cystic acne, a controlled clinical trial found that guggul supplements outperformed 500 milligrams of tetracycline.( 7)
As with everything health- and beauty-related, stress only induces things worse. Find ways to decrease stress in their own lives because stress can cause your body to release hormones that only make acne worse. The more you relax, the better your scalp will be. Try natural stress relievers to help improve your skin.
Getting proper sleep on a nightly basis can help improve your overall health, including balancing hormone levels and decreasing the inflammation associated with cystic acne. You also give your cystic acne uninterrupted time to heal.
Regular physical activity is excellent for the body’s lymphatic system and detoxifying your entire body. It’s also excellent for your mood and self-esteem, which tend to both take a dip when you’re fighting cystic acne.
10. Essential Oils
Essential oils like tea tree and lavender can help fight cystic acne. The best way to use essential oils for acne is to apply two to three drops topically to the area of fear. Tea tree and lavender essential oils are safe for neat( direct) application, but they can also be combined with a carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil if you have sensitive skin.