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How to Treat Microcystic Acne

By Maura Banar ; Updated July 18, 2017

Microcystic acne, also known as cystic acne or acne vulgaris, is characterized by small, boil-like cysts that indicate infection and inflammation deep below the surface of the skin. Unlike other kinds of acne, microcystic acne is more likely to leave scars behind when it clears. Because of this, it's good practice to do something about cystic acne before it spreads. People experiencing severe microcystic acne often require treatment by a professional dermatologist. A dermatologist also might be necessary to clear up scars from microcystic acne.

  1. See your dermatologist for a prescription for isotretinoin, a synthetic form of vitamin A that is administered as a pill once or twice daily, according to AcneNet. This is considered the best available treatment for acne because it heals all types of acne, including microcystic acne. However, isotretinoin carries several potentially dangerous side effects, so is prescribed only for the most serious cases of cystic acne.

  2. Talk to your dermatologist about intralesional corticosteroid injections. These injections are used to treat severe inflammation from microcystic acne and also to help prevent scars once the acne has cleared. In three to five days, this diluted steroid solution can heal the microcysts from the most inflamed parts, deep under the surface of the skin.

  3. Take a course of oral antibiotics to treat infection and inflammation of microcystic acne. These medications are able to reduce the bacteria count, allowing the acne to heal. Generally, physicians prescribed a large dose of oral antibiotics, followed by smaller doses as the acne heals. In some cases, microcystic acne can become resistant to one type of oral antibiotic, in which case the physician will need to prescribe a different antibiotic.

  4. Talk to your gynecologist about taking oral contraceptive medication to treat microcystic acne. These medications have been found to be effective in treating microcystic acne in women, particularly when combined with steroid medications for inflammation. According to the Mayo Clinic, oral contraceptives can cause side effects such as headaches and nausea. These medications also slightly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and dangerous blood clots.

  5. See a dermatologist who provides laser light treatment for microcystic acne. In this treatment approach, a laser beam damages the glands that produce excess oil leading to acne. The laser light also kills the bacteria that cause inflammation and infection. Laser therapy also is used to get rid of acne scarring after treatment. Side effects of this approach are minor and usually include mild burning and redness of the treated areas.

  6. Tip

    Avoid touching the affected areas. The bacteria from microcystic acne is easily transmitted by touch.


    See a doctor if you are experiencing microcystic acne in large areas of your body, which can lead to extensive scarring.

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