Last Modified on Apr 10, 2016
Natural treatment options offer relief and treatment for cystic acne, considered the most severe form of acne. Cystic acne is characterized by inflamed breakouts that result in cysts formed under or on the skin. This type of acne is often extremely painful and causes significant emotional distress in affected individuals.
What is Cystic Acne?
Also called nodulocystic acne, cystic acne is defined as deep, inflamed breakouts on the skin that involve the formation of cysts. Cysts typically feel like soft, fluid-filled lumps beneath the skin’s surface and are considered the most serious type of acne blemish. The condition is genetic and is contributed to by overactive oil glands, excess dead skin cells and overproduction of acne-causing bacteria.
Natural Remedies for Nodulocystic Acne
Natural treatments for cystic acne involve those that reduce inflammation and naturally treat bacterial formations in the skin. Turmeric, vitamin C and apple cider vinegar are among the most effective treatments for cystic acne; however, dietary and lifestyle changes as well as other herbal remedies are also effective. These treatment options can be applied individually or in tandem with other natural treatments to achieve the most effective results.
Turmeric is a warm, peppery spice used as a home remedy to treat a number of health conditions including cystic acne. The spice contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound, which naturally relieves inflammation. Curcumin also helps break down cysts in the body working to eliminate acne at its root.
Vitamin C is a vital nutrient involved in necessary growth and development. The vitamin is also an active antioxidant that functions to remove toxins and buildup from the skin and body. Vitamin C also functions to repair damaged cells and heal wounds while minimizing the appearance of scars.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most widely used alternative remedies and can be used as both a topical treatment and an oral dose. As such, apple cider vinegar functions to both cleanse the skin and balance the body to treat acne. Apple cider vinegar also delivers a number of nutrients to the body to promote healthy skin development.
Cystic acne is often quite painful and can cause significant damage. Natural treatment options function internally and externally to safely heal acne and prevent further breakouts.
Remedies for Cystic Acne
The Popularity of Cystic Acne Remedies - Full List
Hello, Yes a change in the body's ph balance will help. I am a Licensed Esthetician. I must say that I am not a doctor and it is not in my scope to medically treat and so on... I learned about all of this through my son having a very severe and embarrassing skin ailment. We went to doctors and tried pills, creams, etc. The only thing that worked and it worked fast too was anitioxant alkaline water. We used the 2.5 ph water directly on his shin and he dranklots of the 9.5 water to cleanse and detoxify the acidic environment inside which was causuing the exterior problem. I would love to share more information about this. It really worked!
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Posted by Coloradopnutbutrcup (Aurora, Colorado, Usa) on 06/04/2013
Hi everyone, I found this site approx 4 weeks ago and I'd just learned from a co-worker the various benefits of ACV. The key however was buying a brand that had the "mother" in it as it's unfiltered. I had the chicken pox at age 20 and cystic acne took up residence on my face on and off for the last 20 years. It's hormonal plain and simple. After tons of otc products and optioning against accutane and spiralactone, finally at age 40, I can honestly say I found my cure and ACV works. After reading this site and copying the recipe routine posted by 05/12/2009: Sandra D from Greenwood, IN I began the ACV treatment on my cystic acne and began to see immediate results and now 4 weeks later I'm testifying (with tears in eyes) that it worked. The ACV balances internal PH, aids in digestion and gave my skin a healthy glow. Without let up, I drink 2 tbspns of ACV in 8 ounces of water first thing in the morning and either after lunch or before bed. I don't add honey as I don't mind the bitter taste. I wash my face in the morning with either CeraVe or Dove, and use a cotton swab with the ACV as a toner. Personally, I don't think the smell goes away much but after I put on my Mederma (for scars) and Palmer's Cocoa Butter Fade cream, then Aveeno moisturizer (LOL) I don't smell anything. I'm a flight attendant and facing customers with cystic acne plays on your self esteem big time. Well get this, 4 days ago I didn't wear any make up except lip gloss and got compliments from co-workers familiar with my skin ailments. Thank you all for sharing and thank you for this site. I've also started making a baking soda & water paste to exfoliate my face 2 - 3 times a week which absords oil, and make a mask of mango pulp, fresh lemon juice and water and leave on for 1 hour, then rinse with warm water. My skin in smooth, 90% blemish free 95% acne free. I'm elated.
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Camden, New Jersey
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Posted by Lowstomachacid (NY, NY) on 10/28/2012
I just have to tell all of you who are seeing results from ACV, this may be because you have low stomach acid and the ACV is helping you digest fats better so they're not ending up in your blood stream and then your skin. I just began taking HCL supplements and my face is starting to get better. It's not great but finally it's starting to look better. A few years ago I had stomach problems and took Nexium and then had a huge acne outbreak. It wasn't until I googled and googled that I found out that low stomach acid causes acne. I just went off the birth-control pill and I'm finding myself with awful cystic acne all over my chin, cheeks, forehead even above my eyes! And they all hurt. It's been rough. I know the problem is internal and I know I have other symptoms of low stomach acid so I just started this new regimen of a pill with each meal. Using ACV was on the list of other options to use if you have low stomach acid so that may be your problem as well if taking it orally is helping to clear up your face. I'm going to increase my dosage of HCL and also start using the ACV as a toner. Hope this works!
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Posted by Anon (Detroit, Mi - Michigan) on 06/03/2012
i read a post that said to use _____ Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner.. I just have one question... Is it suppose to tingle? Sometimes it even stings a little. Ive been battling cystic acne ever since high school but its gotten worse over the years. Tried ever otc product that exists and nothing works so im trying something different this time around... I wash my face with nubian queen black soap... And apply the acv... I then moisturize with ambi acne cream... So ive only been doin this for a couple days now... ill le you know my results soon.
Posted by Debbie (St Pete Beach, Florida) on 10/10/2011
I am 51 years old and fought cystic acne for years. I was on accutane four seperate times over 20 years. Each time it worked for about 5 years and then the acne would return. My face is now acne free but for the first time in my life I am getting cysts on my chest.
Here's the double whammy... I think I am getting these cyst on my chest because of my nightly hot flashes. My chest is covered with sweat and the acne flourishes despite prescription topical treatments. The only way I get rid of most of these bumps is to go to the dermatologist and have them injected with steroids.
So, after looking at this website, I see that ACV is mentioned to stop hotflashes and cure cystic acne. I am running to the store now to get some. I will report back in a few weeks. Perhaps, I can kill two problems with one remedy!!!
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Posted by Devra (Jamaica, Ny) on 07/27/2011
Stay away from foods that don't work with you. I suffered with cysts acne for 20 years and had to cut out rice, peas some bean and grains. It is true that apple cider vinigar is a miracle, it balances the oil of the skin and also gives a healthy shine all over.
Posted by Sandra D (Greenwood, IN) on 05/12/2009
I am a 43 yr old woman. About ten years ago I started suffering from terrible cystic acne. I am taking testosterone blocker and minocycline. Nothing worked. I also use Duac gel which is an antibiotic and peroxide. Still nothing worked. Tryed thousands of combinations of medications and home remedies. Yesterday I read this blog on apple cider vinegar....thought what the heck. I will try it. I took 2 tablespoons in a glass of water and dabbed some on the exsisting cysts. Then that evening did the same thing only using the cider as a toner.
Today my acne is almost completely clear. Why, I do not know. But be assurred this is no joke. My dermatologist is going to freak out. I am very active in the gym etc. Now I can go in and strut my stuff with confidence.
My regime is:
Morning: Wash face with Oil free cleanser
use apple cider vinegar as a toner with cotton swab
(smell will go away in a second) drink 2 tablespoons in an 8 oz glass of water
afternoon 1-2 tablespoons in a glass of water)
night: Wash face with Oil free cleanser
use apple cider vinegar as a toner with cotton swab
(smell will go away in a second) drink 2 tablespoons in an 8 oz glass of water
Kroger or walmart vinegar works great.....
So for $3.49 I cured my acne or at laest kept it at bay I was spending
$99.00 month minocycline
$68 month aldactone
$70 month duac gel
$20-60 month on every over the counter thing I could find and thought would help
You may contact me if you need advice etc.
Happy in the Sun
Sandra D Grnwd, In
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San Antonio, Tx
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Las Cruces, Nm
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Posted by Ann (Seattle, USA) on 04/10/2009
When I was a teenager, I had terrible cystic acne. No medications helped me, but eventually I "outgrew" it. Now that I am perimenopausal (age 51) I seem to be getting it again. In desperation, I tried birth control pills. It helped with the acne, but the side effects were miserable. I quit the Pill a month ago. Last week I could feel the beginnings of a deep pimple on my chin (it wasn't terribly visible yet, but I could certainly feel it). I applied ACV with a cotton swab for two days mornings and evenings. It's gone! Before, there'd been nothing to do but wait for a deep lesion to surface and evetually go away (a long, painful and unattractive process!) Never has anything worked as well or as quickly as the humble ACV!
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New York, Ny
Posted by Jessica (Lady's Island, SC) on 09/04/2007
I have been suffering from cystic breakouts and chronic constipation most of my adult life. These issues seem to only have intensified with age. Mind you, I eat an organic, almost-vegetarian diet and am always sure to get my minimum fiber intake. Before ACV, I was lucky if I had a bowel movement every other day and always felt "backed up" and suffered from terrible gas! My face would suddenly erupt in cystic acne lesions that took weeks to heal. After spending literally thousands of dollars on products in an attempt to rid myself of both conditions, I am now able to throw out more than half of the things in my medicine cabinet. I take 2 tbs. ACV morning and night, straight-- I don't even mind the taste. I also apply it topically to my face every morn-- seems to brighten my complexion and tone my pores. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to consider dilluting it, as it is pretty strong. My skin has never been better and I am completely "regular" now-I only wish I had tried this sooner and imagine the years of suffering I could have saved myself. If something ails you, try it-- it certainly can't hurt!
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College Park, Ga
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New York, Ny
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Lee's Summit, Mo
Posted by Amber (North Carolina) on 05/28/2014
I suffered with cystic acne for 10 years before I found anything that worked. I tried everything short of oral medications and injections. Turns out what worked for me was in my kitchen cabinets the whole time.
The routine was based on my daily routine, it can be tweaked as needed. Everyone's skin responds differently to different things.
AM: Was face with equal parts apple cider vinegar and hot water. Liberally apply pure aloe.
PM: (Right before showering) Wash face with hot water and an organic oatmeal based facial soap, I use Grandma's Acne Bar. Mix equal parts honey and turmeric, I use a table spoon of each. Apply to face. Then I jump in the shower and let the steam do it's thing while I wash, washing my face last with hot water and a wash cloth. Pat face dry, rinse again with vinegar/water. Liberally apply aloe.
I always started both the am and pm treatments by laying a hot wet washcloth on my face for about 5 minutes. Don't know whether that makes a difference, though.
I seen a reduction in the size and soreness of bumps the first morning after I tried this, the redness persisted for a few weeks. I found that my skin was a little sensitive at the end of the first week just from the vinegar, only slightly though, nothing compared to the painful bumps. I pureed a cucumber and mixed it with a little green tea and left this on my face for about 20 minutes. Made a world of difference.
You may have to adjust the frequency of treatment depending on your skin's sensitivity to vinegar and the soap. Also, turmeric will stain clothes and skin. Supposedly the turmeric stain can be removed from your face with a mild toner but I never leave it on long enough to find out, usually just the 15 minutes or so that I'm in the shower. I would suggest starting the honey and turmeric on a weekend so the stain goes away if it happens. Everyone's skin will absorb the color at different speeds, so just be cautious at first.
Posted by Christa (Huntsville, Tx) on 12/19/2011
Thank you to everyone who recommended the ACV or A____ to help with cystic acne. Here is my story. I've been suffering with bad cystic acne for the last 3-4 months and have spent much time trying to figure out what was causing it and how to fix it. I thought it was my Adderall causing it, but when I quit taking it, I was still breaking out, just at a slower rate. I finally based it down to hormonal changes caused by going off of birth control after having been on it for over 8 years, but adderall does seem to severly compound the problem, so for those with cystic acne that are taking that, it's something to think about. I graduated this December and didn't want to go to graduation with this horrible painful acne. I couldn't even get pictures done because of it. I found this site about a week before my graduation and started on a regimen of ACV and A____ to see if I could get the praiseworthy results so many have boasted on this site. I had little faith but it was worth a shot. Like many others have said, when you're desperate and you've tried everything else, you're willing to try just about anything that might have a chance of working. On the site, people seemed to recommend either the ACV or the A____, so I decided to try the two together to see if I could get results fast! After just one night of using the ACV I woke up to better skin. The new huge cyst I had forming had been significantly reduced and the pain was gone, and my face as a whole looked better. My other scars, cysts and acne were reduced, less red, and my skin really did look brighter just as someone else on here had said. I was amazed. I have since continued on my regimen and now my face is almost completely clear. And it's only been a little over a week! Now that's what I call results!
I have been on face medication (spironolactone and bactrim) from my dermatologist for over 10 years for milder acne but it wouldn't phase this new cystic acne I've been dealing with. In fact, I could almost hear the acne laughing at it. No OTC face products worked on it either, which makes since because this type of acne is caused by something inside you, not by surface oils or hygiene related causes. I did talk to my doctor about the ACV and A____ working and she said it works because it is changing the pH of the body. This is because both the ACV and A____ are highly acidic. (In the A____, it is the high amt. Of vitamin C, a. K. A. Ascorbic acid that makes it work). I thought I had discovered something natural I could use during pregnancy but my doc said no, even on the ACV. It's too potent. So much for that idea, but I can still use it until that time comes, and can still use it on my face when pregnant. She said you just can't drink it if pregnant.
I would recommend anybody with cystic acne to try this out. It has worked great for me. Also, a benefit to using both the ACV and A____ together is that the ACV is cheap which saves you from spending so much on the A____, and the A____ tastes better, which saves you from having to drink so much of the ACV. To those of you having trouble downing the ACV, I feel you. I don't recommend diluting it with water as many others have. You guys must have mild mannered taste buds. I tried the water thing, and threw up. I have found that mixing it with Hawaiian Punch (most flavors work), or V8 Splash helps me get it down. They are strong flavored and have a sort of twang alredy which helps mask the ACVs twang. It is truely some gnarly stuff!
Here is my regimen:
Drink 1-2 tbs ACV morning and night
Drink 1 pkg or tablet of A____ in afternoon
Spot treat cysts with straight ACV holding on each one for at least 10 seconds
All over face with a 50/50 water dilution of ACV as a toner
You can also mix it up and do the A____ morning and night and drink the ACV in the afternoon. Just play with it. I would start out being aggressive with it and back off slowly until you get to a maintanence point.
Good luck and I hope this helps!!!
Replied by Sarah
Posted by Cassi2 (Houston, TX) on 05/26/2009
i have had adult cystic acne for years and have tried everything the doctors have thrown at me. Well I don't know if it was all the ACV or what. I have a drawer ful of prescription and over the counter topicals and also antibiotics that i've tried over the years along with birth control pills. of course none worked completely and all had their drawbacks or side effects. about a week ago i had the biggest, baddest, most painful cyst i've ever had on my chin. i usually get one at a time but not this time - another popped up just under my lip line and another on my jaw line. i was so embarassed and in so much pain. my face was swollen all over the place. so i gave up all my prescription stuff and decided to go all natural.
i started with the all natural organic ACV cocktail three times daily for three days with 2 teaspoons ACV mixed with local dark honey to sweeten to taste and about 8-10 ounces of water and a couple ice cubes. i also took straight acv and soaked a cotton ball in it and held it to each cyst for about 30 seconds to a minute. i did this for three days, twice a day. then i used a ACV toner of 50/50 pure water and ACV and wiped it on my face twice a day for three days. i also cut some fresh aloe vera and would wipe it all over my face at night after all the cleansing. i used my regular cleansers - either pevonia or origins. its taken a week but only the biggest chin cyst is still there a bit but all the redness is totally gone. my face did get a bit dry but i put it into shock mode i am sure - that's why i only did the shocking part for three days and then moved to a maintenance. the skin around the cysts dried up and flaked off and i did have a scab where i was stupid and HAD to pick because i was in so much pain. but there are no scars and no more redness at all. my face looks great already. i am now on a maintenance of the cocktail twice a day, and toner only in the evenings with the aloe as my night time moisturizer. i am using aveeno for a daily moisturizer/sun block which is supposed to help with redness and calm your skin.
i am also taking a good B complex vitamin as that is good for stress and also i take tumeric capsules as they are good for acne and cleansing from the inside also. i haven't changed my diet but that was my next step if this didn't work.
i do hope this helps someone else out there - i really was too uncomfortable and embarassed to even go out and had to pile on the makeup.
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Chicago, Il, Usa
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Posted by Jen (Atlanta, Georgia) on 01/31/2008
I have had severe cystic acne, that caused large black spots all over my face for over 13years i have tried every remedy. I finally found something that is starting to work. I knew it had to be internal so i have tried al sort of cleansers. I went to a consultation to an esthetician who told me i need a bio feed back test which test all your body systems, food alergies along with testing your hormones, stress level and mental stability. If you take your supplements and products you use it will also test those to determine if there helping or if you need to stop using them. I was told I have a bad candida infection of the liver and that until i rid myself of the candida it wont go away no matter what i put on the outside. I believe it came as a result to taking antibiotics which i was given by dermatologist time and time again for acne when i was younger. I also used to drink. If your in Atlanta i know a great specialist who offers the bio feed back test it has done a great help so far and i know it will take time to rid myself of the candida and since i stopped eating anything dairy, with yeast, and sugar i havent had any more cysts on my face or body. If you want to know where to go email me. Blessing to all.
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Posted by Activemom (Monmouth County, Nj) on 03/12/2014
After each pregnancy, cystic acne would appear. I had no idea what it was. It was like a clogged pore and then after five pregnancies, it progressed to huge cysts that would stay for months and they were all over my body. I avoid people and wear long sleeves all summer, as it has even gone down my entire arm. After five years, after the final pregnancy, I finally saw a doctor who diagnosed me with cystic acne. It has been horrible and such a blow to my self esteem. I just hide most of the time. I started taking oral antibiotics, monodox, and an avar cream, sodium based, which helped, but didn't solve my problem. One cyst on my face in particular that just persists and refuses to go away. It is extremely painful and extremely obvious.
Thank you to the man who suggested coconut oil. I cannnot begin to express in words how you have helped me. Within two days, my facial cyst has gone down to where I can see the healing skin and the reduction of the build up of fluid underneath the skin. It was sitting in my pantry all along.....
After insurance costs have changed and the price of medicine has escalated greatly, I decided to research alternative natural remedies and this site is amazing. I will continue to use this as a first resource in remedies for my family.
Posted by Russell (Toronto, Canada) on 04/02/2008
Used many oils including virgin coconut oil in many of my skin care cosmetic formulations. But thats history. My problem has always been cystic acne. In my late forties and it is without a doubt extrmely debilitating. Large cysts would form on my face and it would take weeks for them to subside leaving a purple mark for many months. After My business mail order business went down the toilet due to 9/11. Nobody trusted the mail. I realized I had a klo of virgin coconut oil left in my refridgerater. Literally stumbled on the idea that VCO would help acne. Skeptical about putting straight oil on oily acne skin. I gave it a shot because one of my best sellers of my cosmetic formulations was an oil based, black head removal cream containg organic jojoba oil, actually it is a remarkable oil for rducing large pores. Bottom line is that cysts or leasins would be reduced within 48 to 72 hours. I was stunned to say the least. For two years I have had almost totaly relief from a lifetime problem. I have just started taking it internally since I realized I have had candida, probably for 35 plus years because of the massive amounts of tetracycline, minocin etc. (unconscionably destructive acne anitibiotics) It truly does smooth and soften the skin. My face looks like the moon, from acne scarring, although my wife says I exaggerate but It makes me look younger for sure and for certain. Don't use refined or fractionated coconut oil on your face it must be unrefined virgin oil. It really is miraculous. Cheers all.