Severe Cystic Acne

Large, deep, painful lumps under your skin

If you have large, deep, solid and painful lumps or cysts under your skin, you may have severe acne. 

It’s likely that these breakouts cover large areas of your face or body and last longer than in moderate acne – often hanging around for months or even years. 

Severe acne can have a huge impact on self-confidence and self-esteem, preventing you from doing things you usually enjoy because you might feel worried about your appearance and what other people think.

This type of acne has been linked  to anxiety and depression. 

Unlike other types of acne, severe  acne won’t usually respond to over-the-counter skin care products available at pharmacies or supermarkets.

If you leave it untreated, severe acne can cause permanent scars. 

If you have severe acne, it’s important to see your doctor who may refer you to a dermatologist for assessment and further treatment.

Dermatologist and All About Acne member Dr Mei Tam explains severe cystic acne and the potential treatment options in this video:

Managing Cystic Acne

Here are some steps to follow if you’re managing severe or cystic acne:

  • Get a referral from your GP for a dermatologist as soon as possible.
  • At your appointment with the dermatologist, don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have. If you think of a question after the visit, contact their office.
  • You may be prescribed oral treatments such as antibiotics or isotretinoin. It’s important to follow the dermatologist’s instructions completely if you are prescribed these treatments.
  • If you have severe acne, you should still follow a skin care routine of cleanse, treat and protect.
Acne Medication

Acne Medications

Understand the range of safe and effective acne medications.


Lasted Updated: July 14, 2020