Why cystic acne?

I have cystic acne. It's not all over my face, usually only located on cheeks. I never had acne like this until I was 29 (I am 31 now).

Previously I was using Sheer Cover Mineral Makeup, then I found out Bismuth Chloride can cause cystic acne, so I immediately stopped using it and switched to Faerie Organics Mineral Makeup.

The acne got better, but over the past year it is staring to get worse with MORE cystic acne. Along with cystic acne, I also have "normal" acne, slight redness on upper cheeks, I get spider anginoma's on my face, I'm starting to get wrinkles.

I read about Mario Badescu products online and reading nothing but great reviews, so I ordered their products. Not sure if it is helping, only been using it for a week or so. But, it does seem like I am getting more breakouts.

In addition to topicals, I avoid refined/processed sugar at all costs. I do not eat breads or other other carbs that can spike blood sugar. I cook all my meals and never eat boxed or frozen foods.

I practice deep breathing for relaxation / reduce stress. I make sure to get 8+ hours of sleep every night. I do not drink alcohol. I visit about 3 different dermatologists on a regular basis.

After trying antibiotics, which did not work - I had my hormones tested which all came back normal.

It seems like I have tried everything to rid me of cystic acne and nothing helps. My cystic acne stays red and inflamed for months at a time. herefore, I get dented scarring and I don't pick, squeeze, touch them. What else could I be doing wrong??

Our reply

Hi, and thanks for your message. I'm so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with cystic acne. That is great that you are taking such good care of your body and your diet, and that you have stopped using mineral makeup with bismuth oxychloride.

Yes,I encourage you to go very gently and carefully with any new skin care treatment that you try. Even if a company's products have great reviews, they may or may not work for you. The Mario Badescu products contain several ingredients which may irritate sensitive skin such as:

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate

  • Isopropyl Alcohol

  • Propylene Glycol

  • Salicylic Acid - Although salicylic acid is one of the most common acne treatments, some people are allergic to it without knowing it, and so this ingredient can cause more inflammation.

  • Triethanolamine - Some research suggests that this ingredient can cause allergies and create toxic effects on the skin and in the immune system.

You can learn more about the how some skin care ingredients can cause more irritation for people with sensitive skin at our Safe Cosemtics page.

Unfortunately, even products
that are considered to be hypoallergenic products may contain ingredients which can cause dermatitis or other skin irritations. The only real way to avoid these is to read the labels of your ingredients and avoid those ingredients which can be irritating.

So, if you're noticing more breakouts using your current products, stop for a while and see how your skin responds.

You can find more resources on our acne sensitive skin treatment section.

Based on what you have shared, there is one additional recommendation that you may want to consider.


Our skin is one of the largest organs of elimination in our bodies, however it has to work extra hard if our other elimination systems are stressed out. If you haven't already done this, you may want to consider doing a cleanse.

Even though many people do a homemade cleanse on their own, I would recommend that you consult a qualified health professional who is knowledgeable about how to cleanse in a way that will specifically allow your acne to heal.

Some examples of practitioners who are knowledgeable about cleansing are:

  • Naturopathic Doctors - These physicians are trained in natural and preventitive health care and they will have an ND degree from an accredited school or Naturopathic Medicine.

  • Holistic Medical Doctors - These are physicans who have completed additional training in natural or holistic treatment modalities, or who may call their practice Integrative Medicine. They usually have an MD degree along with other training or certification.

  • Osteopathic Physicians - These are medical doctors trained in many natural and holistic treatment methods and spinal manipulation, and they hold a DO degree, which means Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.

  • Chiropractic Physicians - These are doctors of Chiropractic who are trained in spinal manipulation, nutrition, cleansing and many other holistic health practices. They hold a DC degree which means Doctor of Chiropractic.

  • Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine - These are practitioners of Chinese Medicine which is a 5,000 year old tradition that can be very powerfully effective for conditions that western Medicine has not yet developed cures for, especially skin conditions.

    They use a combination of Acupuncture and Chinese herbs to balance the energy systems of the body, to strengthen elimination, and clear toxicity and excessive congestion in the body.

    There are many different styles of acupuncture, which can make it confusing to try and find a competent practitioner. The style that has worked most effectively for me is the Worsley Method, also known as 5 Element Acupuncture, however there are plenty of other choices available as well.

    Licensing and degrees for Doctors of Chinese Medicine vary from state to state, and training quality also varies quite widely, which can add to the challenge of finding a qualified practitioner. Get personal referrals in your area and be sure to check the credentials of your practitioner.

Comments for Why cystic acne?

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Oct 08, 2013
by: Brit

If you have done ALL of that just for a skin problem, go see a professional Dermatologist. It sounds like what you have going on is beyond your control. If you research cystic acne you will find that is an infection that lives deep in the skin, and while what you find on shelves may knock it back a bit, the infection is still living in the deeper tissue layers of your skin. See a doctor!!! They have the means and the knowledge to kill it for good.

Feb 28, 2013
by: Anonymous

I'm wondering if anybody will ever read this.... But mostly about how one "quits" shampoo...

Aug 06, 2012
Natural ways to treat it
by: Anonymous

Oh, it sounds like what I have, did you check if you have POS? that could be a reason for the acne, I've tried to find what's wrong but so far, no responses. I've tried with natural oils like jojoba oil and ricin oil, they're good for cleaning your face and they're natural, I've heard that tree tea oil is good too.

I don't use makeup at all, and I even quit shampoo due to the chemicals in them.

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