Are There Any Home Remedies for Cystic Acne that Work?

Cystic acne on the back
Photo: CMSP / Getty Images

It doesn't matter if you call it cystic acne or severe acne, your skin is very red, inflamed, possibly painful, and you just want it gone.  If you're holistically-minded, or simply looking for a quick-and-effective treatment, you might look into home remedies to get your acne under control.   

What Is a "Home Remedy?"

Before we continue on, let's get on the same page when it comes to home remedies.  Over the years I've discovered that different people have different opinions of what constitutes a "home remedy."

Some people think natural treatment when they think home remedy: herbs, vitamins, essential oils, and the like.

Others define home remedies as items that are found in their kitchen, say egg masks or honey treatments.

Still, others mean treatments that they can buy at the store and use at home, rather than having to see a doctor. So, over-the-counter acne products from the drugstore would be considered home remedies.

Do any of these types of home remedies actually work to clear cystic acne?

Cystic Acne Cannot be Effectively Treated with Home Remedies

Contrary to what many, many websites and YouTube videos promise, severe acne can't be effectively treated with any type of home remedy.  It can't be treated with herbal teas, a vegan diet, or kitchen ingredients.  Even OTC acne products are no match for cystic acne.

While that's the bad news, the good news is severe acne can be treated.  It just has to be treated by a dermatologist.

Severe acne is tough to treat and is extremely stubborn.  But with prescription medications and guidance from a dermatologist experienced in treating severe acne, you can get really good results. 

As tempting as it is to try this, that, or another home remedy to see if it just may work for you, I'm encouraging you to call a dermatologist instead.

  Take it from someone who's been in your shoes -- you'll waste a ton of time and money on these remedies for little to no improvement.  And you'll be frustrated and disappointed beyond belief. 

Better to get a proven treatment now, and start seeing results sooner.  Trust me, you'll be happier with your skin in the long run.

Home remedies can work for random, individual pimples.

What if you don't have acne over the entire face or body, but instead just a single big zit that's randomly appeared?  (Most often what we call an acne cyst is really just a big pimple.) 

In this case, you don't need to see a dermatologist or need a prescription medication.  Here's where a home remedy will actually work nicely. 

Ice is a good idea for those painfully swollen zits.  Just a few minutes of this cold therapy can reduce inflammation and make it feel a whole lot better. 

A dab of OTC benzoyl peroxide at night can also help your pimple to heal more quickly.  Do try to stay away from applying odd mixtures of cinnamon or garlic or whatnot, as these can irritate the blemish and actually make them worse.

And, of course, you should never, ever squeeze a big, inflamed zit.

Even the largest pimples should start healing within a week.

  If home remedies aren't doing the trick, and you have a zit that refuses to heal (or gets larger, or is extremely painful) you should see a doctor.  A cortisone injection can help banish that breakout.

Or your doctor may say your big "zit" isn't a zit at all, but rather a boil.  If you're unsure if what you've got is a big pimple or a boil, don't hesitate to have it checked out by your healthcare provider.

Next Steps:

Treating Severe Acne

Help!  I Have a Big Pimple that Won't Go Away!


Davis, M.G. "The Treatment of Cystic Acne." Skin Therapy Skin Therapy Letter, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 16 Oct. 2105.

Zouboulis CC, Bettoli V.  "Management of severe acne."  Br J Dermatol.  2015 Jul;172 Suppl 1:27-36.

Continue Reading