Pimples, or acne, are the result of the irritation of your skin's hair follicles. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, natural oils produced by your body can cause hair follicles to become blocked. The blockage, along with bacteria that lives on your skin, can produce a bump or lesion, or a pimple. Cystic pimples, sometimes called nodules, form when the irritation and inflammation of the hair follicles extends deep into the layers of skin. The cysts can become large, painful and can leave scars when they heal. Medications and careful cleansing habits can help you get rid of a cystic pimple.
Use an over-the-counter topical acne medication to try to get rid of your cystic pimple. Creams or gels of this kind generally contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, two substances that, according to the Mayo Clinic, can destroy the bacteria on your skin and can dry up some of the oil. If you only have a single cystic pimple and your acne is mild to moderate, over-the-counter preparations can be an effective treatment.
Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist if your cystic acne does not respond to over-the-counter medications. Stronger creams or lotions that contain retinoids or antibiotics can reduce the inflammation of a cystic pimple and kill the bacteria present. Prescription creams may be irritating to your skin or cause you to become more sensitive to sunlight, so be sure to use only as directed by your doctor.
Ask your dermatologist about taking oral antibiotics to treat cystic acne. Systemic drugs, such as tetracycline, doxycycline and azithromycin, can help cystic acne clear by reducing inflammation in the body. Your doctor may also have you use a topical medication at the same time.
Get rid of sizable cysts that are also painful, with injections. The American Academy of Dermatology states that some people find pain relief from corticosteroid medications injected directly into the cystic pimples. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and can promote healing when other methods have failed.
Consult with your doctor to determine if you are an ideal candidate for isotretinoin, a powerful drug that is approved by the FDA to treat severe cystic acne that does not respond to less-aggressive treatments. Isotretoinoin, sold under the brand name Accutane, is an oral medication and is prescribed for a period of three to four months to clear up resistant cystic pimples. The drug cannot be used by women who are pregnant. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that isotretinoin can cause miscarriages and severe birth defects. Women who choose this regimen should use two reliable forms of birth control.
Wash your face regularly with a gentle cleanser when you have cystic pimples. Abrasive cleaners may aggravate the inflammation and make your acne worse. A mild, fragrance-free soap, warm water and a soft cloth (or your fingers) may help you control the oils and minimize future outbreaks.
Don't squeeze, pop or otherwise try to open up a cystic pimple. Rather than getting rid of the blemish, you can actually spread bacteria, increase inflammation and cause permanent scarring.