I always get cystic acne around my jaw, neck, and ears. How do they form?

Author: Dr. Bobby Buka

Cystic acne is the most severe form of acne. The other forms include papular, pustular, and comedonal acne. Cystic acne consists of large nodular lesions located underneath the surface of the skin.

acne on jaw and neck

How does cystic acne form?

Cystic acne starts with an occluded hair follicle and bacteria that gets caught in closed space or anaerobic (without oxygen). This environment is very hospitable to bacteria and allows them to multiply quickly, resulting in a lot more bacteria in a closed space.

Your immune system has a very fierce reaction to this, which leads to tenderness, redness, and inflammation in that area. This is how cystic acne forms.

If you are suffering from cystic acne, call Dr. Bobby Buka today to schedule a consultation.

Causes of Cystic Acne

There are a few things that could be causing your cystic acne.

While the formation above is how cystic acne comes to be, the cause for this excess in clogs can be boiled down to a few things.

  1. Hormonal changes – Including stress, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, birth control, and hormone therapy.
  2. Excessive sebum production – Sebum, the natural oil that coats our skin, can be produced in excess, leading to more frequent clogging and cystic acne.
  3. Genetics – While the real cause can be from the two reasons above, genetics play a large role. If one or both of your parents have suffered from cystic acne, it’s likely that you might as well.

How to Manage Cystic Acne Pain

Cystic acne is among the most painful types of acne out there.

Because the cyst lies deep beneath the skin and results in a large amount of inflammation, it can be painful, even if you’re not touching it.

In order to reduce cystic acne pain, treatment should be the first line of defense. Reducing the formation of these cysts and treating existing ones is the best way to get rid of that pain.

However, if you’re in the treatment process and want a few tips for getting rid of the pain until they do clear up, we have a few.

  1. Don’t touch it – Continuously aggravating a cyst will only make it worse, more inflamed, and therefore, more painful. Keep your hands off your cystic acne.
  2. Apply a cold compress – Icing your cystic acne can reduce inflammation. And since the inflammation is a large part of what causes pain, it can be reduced significantly.
  3. Avoid drying acne treatments – Unless prescribed or approved by your dermatologist, avoid extremely drying creams or topical treatments. These can cause increased irritation, inflammation, and can prolong the healing process rather than reduce it.

Squeezing and Popping Cystic Acne – DON’T DO IT

Unless you want to make your condition worse, don’t touch your cystic acne. Nothing good and no healing comes from picking at, popping, or squeezing your cysts.

In fact, doing so will only increase your risk of developing acne scars. And because cystic acne is deep in the skin, these scars often cause more damage than your everyday zit.


If you want to help correct your cystic acne for good, book an appointment with us.