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How To Shrink a Cystic Pimple: 5 Ways To Help It Clear

Learn what to do about a cystic pimple to help it shrink and eventually clear up.

Read on

We’ve all been there -- face to face with an angry underground cystic pimple.

These types of pimples aren’t going to offer a satisfying “pop” like some whiteheads; they simply don’t go down without a fight.

But don’t worry, this is your emergency tool kit for shrinking a cystic pimple. (Spoiler, please don’t try to pop it!)

How to shrink a cystic pimple at home

Treating an under-the-surface zit can be tricky. Cystic pimples are not like other zits so it requires a different approach.

If you can’t get to a dermatologist, here are some ways to shrink a cystic pimple at home without making matters worse.

1. Try icing it to calm swelling and inflammation

Applying a “cold compress” to your cystic pimple can help decrease swelling, inflammation, redness, itching, and pain. Cold compressing can help shrink a cystic pimple.

This is because ice causes restriction of the blood vessels that are supplying the cystic pimple with blood. Don’t apply ice directly to the skin. Instead, wrap ice a paper towel or a washcloth.

Apply ice for 20 to 30 seconds increments for up to 5 minutes. You can do this a couple of times a day to keep the swelling down.

2. Try a warm compress to encourage drainage

A warm compress is a simple way to encourage the drainage of a wound, or in this case, a cystic pimple. Start by washing your face clean of any bacteria.

Then soak a clean washcloth in warm water (not hot water as it can burn your skin) and lay the cloth over the affected area for up to 20 minutes.

Do this a few times a day. This will help the pimple come to a head and release naturally. Here is a detailed article that explains how to make a warm compress.

3. Try OTC hydrocortisone cream

While prescription acne medications are most effective when it comes to treating cystic acne, sometimes an emergency acne tool kit calls for OTC remedies.

If you have a particularly painful cystic pimple, try using 1% hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation.

4. Use hydrocolloid bandages

The lovingly nicknamed “pimple patches” adhere to the skin and draw out fluid from a wound or a cystic pimple.

Once you’ve left a hydrocolloid bandage on for a while, you can visibly see the “pimple gunk” inside the bandage. Neat!

The internet is calling them “pimple vacuums”. Sleep with these hydrocolloid bandages on to help shrink a cystic pimple.

5. Don’t pop it

Broken record here, we know it’s tempting to try to dig at a cystic pimple to speed up the pimple process but this can backfire. Cystic pimples are not like whiteheads or blackheads, they live deep under the surface of your skin and can’t be popped easily.

If you attempt popping the cyst you could cause more inflammation, and the skin trauma could bruise or scar the skin. If you want to know how to shrink a cystic pimple, just don’t try to pop it, because you can make it even angrier!

Even worse, when the cyst is poked and prodded, it can cause even more cystic pimples to pop up.

Which skincare ingredients help cystic acne?

Cystic acne is generally more severe than other kinds of acne. This is why those who deal with cystic acne are recommended prescription-strength treatments. Often, over the counter treatments just don’t cut it when it comes to cystic acne.

Best treatments for cystic acne:

  • Isotretinoin
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Tretinoin
  • Steroid injections
  • Drainage by a dermatologist
  • Oral antibiotics

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If cystic acne has been plaguing you, it might be time to step up your acne defense.

Cystic acne is notably difficult to prevent while only using over-the-counter treatments. Often, stronger acne medications are needed to penetrate deep into the skin.

Your skin might benefit from Strut Health’s prescription compound acne treatment.

Our formula is a combination of acne-fighting prescription agents like Tretinoin and Clindamycin.

If you’re ready for clear skin, complete a free questionnaire-based doctor's consultation online to see if our unique treatments are right for you.

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