What is the difference between hormonal and cystic acne and how do we treat it?

How to treat hormonal and cystic acne

Dermalogica’s Clear Start Ambassador Dixie D’Amelio. Image supplied.

Acne sufferers will know that acne does not discriminate. People of all ages, genders and races can suffer from acne and it can sometimes be hard to decipher whether those spots you are experiencing are hormonal or cystic. There are many different causes of acne, from diet and stress to hormones and genetics, but whatever the cause, the one thing most acne sufferers will agree on is that acne is no fun. Acne can be painful, persistent and can really affect a persons self-esteem. Luckily, there are things an acne sufferer can do to prevent and treat flareups, it just takes the proper education and a good skincare plan with a reputable brand, like our favourites – Dermalogica and Clear Start.

Clear Start was created by global skincare giant, Dermalogica and their talented team of skin health experts. Clear Start was created to specifically target skin concerns such as breakouts, blackheads and shine to help people achieve their healthiest looking skin. Clear Start not only creates their products with clinically-proven, technology-driven ingredients that nurture the skin, they also believe that skin health is more important than beauty and believe in promoting skin acceptance, for all types of skin and for all skincare journeys. Clear Start’s ethos is –  “breakouts are not a flaw, they are just a fact of life.” Clear Start is serious about making cruelty-free, vegan products to help achieve healthy skin for all and that is shown from their animal-cruelty free tick of approval from both Leaping Bunny and PETA, ensuring there aren’t any hidden animal-derived ingredients in any of their products.

We wanted to dig a little deeper and find out what exactly causes both hormonal and cystic acne and what we can do to treat it. So we had a chat with Dermalogica Skin Expert, Abby Littlejohn and got her professional advice on what you can do to manage your acne.

What is the difference between hormonal acne and cystic acne?
Hormonal acne is a direct result of the body’s androgen, testosterone and oestrogen levels. When hormone levels fluctuate, this can stimulate hair growth and sebaceous gland activity, which increases oil production. When excess oils mix with skin cells, dirt and debris, a plug forms which can get infected with Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes) bacteria, the plug then becomes inflamed and swollen, resulting in a breakout. This can happen at any age and is equally as common in men and women, it can be characterized by the appearance of pimples, pustules, whiteheads and other lesions and is most common on the chin and jaw area.

Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne and relatively uncommon against hormonal acne. It can be related to changes in hormonal levels, specifically a rise in androgen levels but it can also be caused by other factors including genetics, comedogenic ingredients, certain medications, high humidity levels and sweating etc. Whilst cystic acne is most common in younger skin to early 20s, it can pop up at any age and severe cases are more common in men. Cystic acne is characterized by sore, red bumps under the skin or a large pus-filled cyst and anywhere on the face/body.

How to treat hormonal and cystic acne

How can we treat hormonal acne?
Hormonal acne is a common skin concern and skincare ingredients can play a huge role in dulling the side effects of breakouts. When treating breakouts from hormonal acne, it’s important to control excess oil produced by the skin. Having a good skincare routine in place is the key to helping keep excess oil under control, incorporating ingredients like Salicylic Acid will dive deep into follicles and unplug impaction plugs to help exfoliate the skin – limiting breakouts. Using products that contain ingredients to work with the skins natural microbiome will also have great effects. By removing P.acnes that cause breakouts whilst keeping good bacteria on the skin intact in order to fight inflammation will help control breakouts.

We would recommend using the Clear Start Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash RRP: $37  and the Clear Start Breakout Clearing Booster RRP: $38 to help to prevent and manage your breakouts.

How can we treat cystic acne?
Deep, cystic breakouts can be a little harder to treat. Typical skincare products and ingredients may not have the same effect as they would on hormonal acne. This is when a trip to your GP or a dermatologist will come in handy to treat the deeper lesions via prescription medication.

What should we NOT do to treat hormonal and cystic acne?
Ensure you are keeping the skin as healthy as possible by cleansing the skin twice a day and ensuring all makeup is removed from the skin before bed. if washing your face in the shower make sure the water isn’t too hot – switch to the basin instead to avoid excess inflammation. Stay away from harsh ingredients like some physical exfoliants that can cause micro-scratches on the skin, this can remove heads of breakouts and cause bacteria to spread, resulting in more breakouts. Don’t pick or squeeze breakouts as this can lead to the spread of bacteria, scarring and pain!

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This story was brought to you in partnership with Dermalogica.

How to treat hormonal and cystic acne

Images supplied.

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