Ugh, if anyone knows about cystic acne, it’s me!
As most of you know I’m 5 months pregnant, and with this pregnancy has come unwanted cystic pimples (and I’ll be 41 next month, you’d think by now they’d be gone for good!).
Since my teens, I’ve always been prone to cystic breakouts, and luckily by my thirties I figured out how to heal them fast and prevent them from coming back.
Now that they’re revisiting me with this pregnancy, it’s definitely a good time to share my tricks and what works to get rid of cystic acne quickly (so they’re gone in a week, not a month), and don’t leave marks or scars behind.
In this article, I’ve put together a list of 5 thing you can do right now to help get rid of cystic acne.
Why you’re getting cystic pimples
Before I get into my protocol of how to get rid of cystic pimples, I want to explain why you’re getting them in the first place.
If you understand what’s causing them besides it being just “your hormones,” it’s easier to adjust your diet and skincare routine to get results.
Cystic pimples and breakouts are of course coming from your hormones – either a hormone imbalance (like from having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome/PCOS, endometriosis, reproductive health conditions, diabetes, etc). Or, it’s coming from a sensitivity to the hormones changes and fluctuations your body goes through every month connected to your menstrual cycle (and that’s why you might always get breakouts right around your period or ovulation).
Cystic pimples are those big, painful, swollen pimples that tend to appear around your nose, chin, jawline, neck and sometimes forehead. They can be very slow to get rid of (I once had a cystic pimple on my face for over 6 months, it just wouldn’t go away, and it was HUGE!).
To get rid of cystic pimples, you need to get healthy from the inside out.
Nothing you put on the surface of your skin is going to get rid of them (because the blockage and inflammation is deep inside your skin).
To get rid of cystic breakouts, you need to balance your hormones, and eat foods to reduce inflammation.
You also need to get super healthy and fit.
If you have a hormone imbalance or sensitivity (and getting those terrible cystic pimples), you need to:
- Watch the sugar and carbs in your diet (including the healthy ones)
- Reduce anything that’s going to stress or overstimulate your body (including cutting out caffeine, theobromine, energy drinks, and sugar; plus reduce stress from your daily life)
- Cut out all foods that interfere with your hormones (like dairy & soy that contain their own naturally occurring hormones)
- Increase the vegetables in your diet to reduce swelling, redness, and inflammation of the skin.
Tips for clearing up cystic pimples fast
Drink 1 litre/quart of water infused with fresh mint daily
Water infused with fresh mint is one of my most favourite remedies for cystic pimples and hormonal breakouts.
Studies have shown that women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) who drank spearmint tea every day significantly lowered their abnormally high androgen levels back to normal. This can help reverse their symptoms of hormone imbalance including clearing up adult acne, regaining fertility, shifting stubborn weight, and reducing overgrowth of facial hair/hirsutism.
This is major! And as we know, cystic acne is connected to your hormones. Either you have a hormone imbalance (like from PCOS, endometriosis, or other hormone or reproductive issues), or your body is super sensitive to hormone changes within your menstrual cycle (resulting in always getting breakouts right around your period or ovulation).
Based on my experiments on myself, I found water infused with fresh mint to be even more effective than drinking the tea.
Plus, by drinking a litre/quart of water infused with fresh mint every day, ensures you’re adequately hydrated (which most people aren’t), and will assist proper digestion (all of which will help your skin too).
When it comes to those big painful cystic pimples, and getting rid of them quickly – drinking mint water is the absolute best.
For myself, when I get a cystic pimples on my face, I immediately start drinking mint water religiously every day. It’s amazing to see the pimple completely disappear in a few days time, without any marks or scarring, or tissue build-up left behind.
The pimples literally shrink and disappear.
To get started with the mint water:
1- Fill a large pitcher or water bottle with at least 1 litre/quart of plain drinking water
2- Put 3-5 sprigs of fresh mint in the water (20-30 fresh mint leaves)
3- Let the mint soak in the water for 20 minutes before drinking.
4- You can leave the mint leaves in the water all day and drink the water throughout the day, no problem!
5- Do this every day until your skin completely clears up (for some of you, you’ll see immediate results within a few days, others it can take a week or more. Give it time and be consistent).
If you can’t find fresh mint, drink 2-3 cups of mint tea every day instead.
For full instructions, you can check out this blog post.
Don’t pick or squeeze cystic pimples – don’t touch your face
Cystic pimples aren’t like other pimples or whiteheads, they aren’t meant to come to a head.
There’s absolutely no point in squeezing cystic pimples – the blockage is too deep inside your skin, and the surrounding area is too inflamed. All you are doing is making it worse.
How cystic pimples heal is not by being squeezed and popped, but by your body’s ability to dissolve and absorb whatever is clogging the pore from the inside. Nothing should come to the surface or be pushed out.
So stop squeezing, picking, or trying to pop cystic pimples – you’re doing more harm than good. If you need help, here’s a blog post with tips on how to stop picking pimples.
The debris or oil/sebum clogging your pore isn’t meant to be pushed to the surface. By trying to squeeze the blockage out, you’re just hurting your skin (and causing more inflammation, redness, and swelling, which will potential cause discolouration and scarring).
I know it can take a big leap of faith to refrain from picking at your pimples, but do an experiment – don’t squeeze or pick at your face for one whole month.
In fact, don’t touch your face (aside from washing your face, your fingers and hands should never be in contact with your face, ever!).
Just from taking a break from touching and picking at your skin, you’ll be amazed just how quickly pimples shrink and disappear on their own (plus while they’re shrinking, they not red or irritated, so if you want to wear cover-up or makeup, it’s easier to conceal!).
Don’t eat any dairy products
Ya, I’m always talking about dairy products and breakouts.
That’s because over 85% of acne sufferers notice a huge difference in their skin once they stop eating or drinking everything containing milk and dairy products.
Eliminating all dairy products is especially important for getting rid of cystic acne and hormonal breakouts – not only to heal your skin quicker, but preventing it from coming back.
I want to be very clear – when I say “don’t eat dairy products,” this includes not even a drop of cream or milk (yes, no cream or milk in your coffee or tea – even that little drop could be doing serious damage).
Dairy products include all milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, coffee creamers, cream cheese, sour cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, etc.
Beware, dairy products and dairy bi-products can be hidden in processed and premade foods like sauces, salad dressing, frozen deserts, crackers, chips/crisps, protein powder, coffee drinks, supplements, etc. Best to always read the labels on the packages!
Dairy affects your skin in two ways – it has naturally occurring hormones that can throw your own hormones off balance, and dairy products can be high glycemic, which can be throwing your blood sugar and hormones off balance as well. It’s a double whammy for your skin, especially if you’re prone hormonal breakouts and cystic pimples (and that’s why so many people clear up their skin just by taking this one food out of their diet!).
No chocolate or raw cacao
Eek, I know this can be brutal, but the theobromine, especially in raw cacao, or raw chocolate, can be causing serious cystic breakouts.
For me, raw cacao is the number one thing that give me the worst cystic pimples. I can get away with having it once in a while, but the moment I start eating it every day, even just 2 or 3 days in a row, I automatically get at least one big cystic pimple on my face (guaranteed!).
For myself, cooked chocolate isn’t as bad for my skin, but I know plenty of people that it’s just as bad as the raw stuff.
My recommendation to all of you who struggle with painful cystic pimples, stay away from chocolate (especially if you’re prone to breakouts connected to your menstrual cycle).
For the sake of your skin, it’s just not worth it.
Treat cystic pimples with essential oils at night
For some of you, dabbing a small amount of high quality essential oils on cystic pimples can help to reduce the swelling and inflammation, prevent scarring, and even speed up the healing.
It’s definitely worth trying.
The essential oils I recommend for treating large cystic pimples are:
- Living Libations Zippity Dew Dab or Dew Dab or Morning Dew Dab (these are potent essential oil blend for spot treating pimples and acne scars, each one is made of a different blend of clarifying essential oils)
- Tea Tree Essential Oil (use Jojoba Oil to dilute the Tea Tree Oil, click here for instructions)
For cystic pimples, I DON’T recommend any other spot treatments or drying gels/lotions.
The reason why, is because all drying lotions and acne products dry out the surface of your skin. A cystic pimple has nothing to do with the surface of your skin. The blockage and inflammation is coming from deep inside. There’s absolutely no point in drying out the surface of your skin and it could lead to scars, marks and discolouration.
Essentials oil blends on the other hand aren’t going to dry out your skin. They’re meant to therapeutically reduce swelling, irritation, and sooth your skin.
I only recommend using a tiny drop of an essential oil as a spot treatment once a day. And, only at night (I find active ingredients, including essential oils, are much safer to use at night to ensure there’s no adverse reaction using the product and sun exposure).