According to WebMD, cystic acne is most commonly treated using oral antibiotics, which can help to minimize inflammation and control the bacteria present. Birth-control pills are also used to control hormones that cause cystic acne, and prescription-strength creams with retinoid can help to minimize clogged pores to allow for quicker healing. Other prescription acne medications are also sometimes used in the treatment of cystic acne.
Because cystic acne forms below the surface of the skin and never reaches a head, over-the-counter treatments used for other types of acne cannot be used for cystic acne. In some cases, cystic acne may not respond to one treatment, or the treatment may become ineffective over time. For this reason, more than one treatment is often recommended to control cystic acne.
Cystic acne creates a red tender bump under the surface of the skin. These bumps can be either painful or itchy, and when they burst, they can spread to other areas and cause more infection. Most common in the teenage years and throughout the 20s, cystic acne can affect anyone from 8 to 50 years old. The acne can appear on the face, back, arms, shoulders or chest. As of 2014, the cause of cystic acne is not known, but it is thought that hormones called androgens play a role.