The key to understanding cystic acne is acknowledging the fact that it is an inflammatory reaction and usually happens due to both the environment and your lifestyle. Therefore, the solution is to adopt an anti-inflammatory and healthy lifestyle – a lifestyle that is no longer at odds with your primal origins. The health of your body and the condition of your skin are intimately tied together. Literally, what is good for you is good for your skin. Therefore, getting cystic breakouts is not an accident, but rather the outcome of your consuming pro-inflammatory foods. The following article will offer you with guidelines that will not just clear your cystic acne but offer you a solid foundation upon which to build a long and thriving life. Just in case you have cystic acne which has left scars on your skin, be sure to check out my article on the types of products you can use to remove those scars once and for all.
What Are The Foods That Cause Cystic Acne? The Deadly Three: Seed Oils, Sugar and Gluten
The three primary inflammatory foods that cause cystic acne are: industrial seed and vegetable oils, sugar and gluten. Depending on a number of factors (some unknown), different people react differently to these foods – though at least one of these is usually the central perpetrator of acne and especially cystic acne. The trick is finding out which of these is your trigger (or triggers).
Industrial seed oils are any added oils in processed foods and include stuff like corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil and so on. These processed fats are unusually high in Omega 6 fats, which without a matching amount of Omega-3 promote inflammation.
Sugar in its pure form is also a novel modern food, and has a whole host of negative health consequences. Among its harmful effects, especially for those that have cystic acne, is that it suppresses the immune system. In addition, it reduces the body’s ability to deal with bacterial infection, blocks or limits the absorption of a whole host of nutrients, causes hormonal imbalance, and increases inflammatory markers in overweight populations.
Finally, gluten can trigger cystic acne in some people, although the clinical data on the negative effects of gluten is weaker than the above two substances. However, there is a substantial minority that have been found to be either intolerant of or sensitive to gluten (even in those without Celiac disease), and there is enough anecdotal reports to recommend quitting gluten as a precautionary measure.
The Prevention Plan For Cystic Acne
In most cases, getting rid of the three toxic foods outlined above will be sufficient to eventually get rid of your cystic acne. Inflammatory Omega 6 fats remain in the body and have a half-life of up to two years in human tissue, which is why dietary interventions do not typically have next day results. Also, chronic inflammation can reach a point where it becomes self-perpetuating and therefore will not respond immediately to a change in diet and lifestyle.
To simplify the process and be sure that it works, I recommend going through a one month period where you eat nothing but the simple whole natural foods. If your acne is particularly bad, I would recommend extending that period to 2 or 3 months.
Here are some of the foods that are recommended for those that have frequent cystic acne outbreaks:
- All whole, unaltered plants (not including avocados and coconuts)
- Wild caught fish
- Whole grains (I’d recommend limiting wheat and gluten, though)
- Raw Nuts
- Extra virgin Olive Oil
- Raw Seeds
- Virgin Coconut/Palm Oil
- Beef (preferably pasture fed)
(Note: do not eat foods high in fat in combination with fruit, unless you are very active. Both fat and sugar (even the natural sugar in fruit) have a high energy density and combining them can often lead to acne and/or cystic acne if combined with a sedentary lifestyle. As of about a year ago, I have largely quit eating fruit (besides the occasional low sugar fruit such as berries) as I find fruit to not be particularly satiating and also because when I eat fruit, I find it increases my appetite and I end up eating more than I’d like.
Foods to avoid at all costs:
- All Processed foods
- Sugar or industrial seed oils.
If for some reason you have to eat either of these foods, try not to combine them, as the combination of sugar and seed oils have inflammatory effects that are significantly more severe than that of either ingredient alone.
This may sound difficult, and initially the change, like any change, will be difficult and uncomfortable. But then I asked myself: “What is more important? Feeling good about myself or being inconvenienced?” The answer to me was clear. Moreover, after the first month or so, it became natural and easy and now I look forward every day to what I’m going to eat and I take pride in my lifestyle and in taking control of my health and my body. The reactions of your friends and family to your new routine will obviously vary, but for me it was a revelation as to who was really interested in my well-being and who were merely concerned with how it reflected upon their own lifestyle.
Long Term Defense Against Cystic Acne: Exercise and Sunshine
The more sunshine and exercise you get, the healthier you will be, and the better your skin will look. These are so secondary to diet that I considered not adding it. However, as time goes on it will significantly affect your overall health, which will contribute to reducing inflammatory reactions. Focus on getting your diet right, and add exercise and sunshine as per your ability.
A few other tips:
- The closer you live to a gym or park, the more likely you are to keep up a routine. If possible, find one within ten minutes drive/walk of where you live and visit it regularly.
- The better your diet, especially in terms of the amount of Omega-3 you consume, the better your body handles sunshine.
- Avoid too much sun during the hours between 10am and 2pm as that is when the number of harmful rays is excessive.
- A good exercise regimen includes both cardio and weight lifting. Try to get at least 15 minutes of moderate to heavy cardio at least 2 (though preferably 3) times a week. I’ve found the easiest and most enjoyable way to get my cardio by playing sports and joining local sports meetups or leagues. Outdoor sports, where you get exercise and sunshine together, are most preferable.
- If you have only occasional cysts, but know you have eaten something that may cause blemishes, then make sure you are not idle or sedentary afterwards – especially beware of going to bed immediately after eating inflammatory foods. Get as active as you can. Preferably go to the gym and get a full cardio workout. If that is not possible, brisk walking, running, or jumping jacks (a few sets of 50 or so) can make a huge difference and can often prevent a cyst from developing.
- In addition, after or while you’re eating an inflammatory food, eat something strongly anti-inflammatory like broccoli.
General Topical Skin Care
Proper care of your skin is also important, especially if you are in a chronic inflammatory state. Here are some pointers:
- Use a gentle, liquid cleanser. No soap.
- Use a 2% salicylic acid application for the day, and a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide lotion for before bedtime, at least during the initial cleansing period.
- If you get a cyst, avoid touching it at all costs. This will only make it worse.
How To Get Rid Of Cystic Acne Fast? The Treatment
The first technique to get rid of acne cysts before they form is the application of heat. The minute you sense that a cyst is forming (and you get that characteristic invisible painful spot on your face), you need to do the following:
- Check the maximum hot water temperature in your house or residence. Make sure the maximum temperature is beneath the degree that causes burning under normal conditions. I would suggest 120 degrees fahrenheit, for it would require a ten-minute exposure for a burn to develop – which is significantly longer than the exposure I recommend.
- Run water and wait for the water to reach its highest temperature. Then expose the area of the skin where the cyst is developing to the flow of water. You will obviously need a sink where the faucet is positioned such that part of your head to can fit underneath it (or you have some sort of faucet attachment).
- Then let the water flow over the cyst for as long as you can stand it – at least 3 minutes and not more than 7 minutes. Do this every few hours, though this is especially powerful before and after a workout. The area the water flowed over will become bright red and may remain that way for about an hour or so. This is normal. It will hurt a little as well. However, as long as you make sure your water heater temperature is at an appropriate max temperature, you will not burn yourself.
- I would recommend doing this at least 3 times throughout the day
- Do this every day until the cyst disappears. If you catch it early enough with sufficient heat for enough times a day, the cyst will simply never develop. If you are too late, then it will speed up the maturation process and eventually pop the cyst internally. I have actually felt the cyst burst while holding it under the water. It hurts, but in a good way. I would just be so happy that the cyst was gone – and filled with a sense of control that I had successfully gotten rid of a cyst – especially after years of feeling helpless to do anything about it.
- If for some reason, the application of hot water on the cyst does not work (and I’ve never had this happen to me) – and the cyst begins to become strongly visible, then this is your backup option.
- Call a local dermatologist, and tell the secretary that you don’t need a consultation, and that you have a cyst and simply need a quick cortisol shot ASAP. Since this only takes a second to do (and is profitable for them), most will schedule you right away. The cost will vary a bit – but if you follow the prevention tips in this article, then you should never have to do this again after the initial period of change.
Other General Tips For Prevention Of Cystic Acne:
- Chances are, if you are having difficulties with Cystic acne, you have taken antibiotics more than a few times in your life. As much as possible, avoid consuming antibiotics on frequent basis. Antibiotics do not differentiate between good and bad bacteria and often wipes out the bacterial gut flora that is responsible for effective digestion.
- As you are likely already aware, stress is a killer – both for health and for acne. While stress coping skills are useful, the most effective form of stress coping is stress avoidance. Therefore, designing a life with a relative amount of safety and peace of mind (while easier said than done) should be a huge priority. This will greatly reduce the reactivity of your skin.
- Finally, any medication or chemical exposure that messes with your hormones is likely to affect your acne. My own example is that I was painting my parents garage when my cystic acne took a strong turn for the worst. I don’t believe this was a coincidence. Water-based paint has been shown to cause food allergies. Since then I’ve done everything in my power to reduce my exposure to chemicals, as well as avoiding all forms of medication. I understand, total abstinence may not be possible or even in some cases desirable due to prior conditions, but avoidance to some degree is highly recommended.
If for whatever reason you cannot follow one or several of the guidelines mentioned above, do not give up. Follow as many of them as closely as you can, and you have a good shot at defeating your zit. The comprehensive plan listed above is set up to guarantee you that your cyst will not develop – but I have conquered zits sometimes through heat alone or from exercise and diet alone. It really depends on how large, how painful and how inflamed the zit is and on how early you catch it. Do what you can do, though – and don’t lose heart. I have also included some very useful resources such as 25 herbal remedies and 32 home remedies to cure cystic acne.