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Why You Should Always Wear Sunscreen if You Have Cystic Acne, According to a Derm

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Why You Should Always Wear Sunscreen if You Have Cystic Acne, According to a Derm

Pimple scars, ice pick scars, whatever you call them, acne scars are the worst. And they are often a result of cystic acne. Here, a derm explains why sunscreen is crucial to good skin health when you have cystic acne.

Cystic acne is a type of acne that forms deeper in the skin, often as a result of hormone changes, which is why it’s also called hormonal acne. You may also know it as “chin acne,” since it’s usually concentrated on the lower half of your face. Whatever you know it as, it’s annoying. Not only are the pimples painful, but they tend to leave behind scars that can last for a while.

If you’re dealing with acne scars, wearing sunscreen is absolutely crucial to speed up the healing process. Here, we chat with Deirdre Hooper, a New Orleans-based board-certified dermatologist and an associate clinical professor in the Department of Dermatology at both Louisiana State University and Tulane University, all about cystic acne and the important role sunscreen plays when it comes to treating it.

How is cystic acne different from other kinds of acne?

Cystic acne more likely to scar and more likely to need oral medication. Cysts are pores that have become completely blocked and are often infected, while white and blackheads are clogged but not blocked.

Why do you get cystic acne?

Multiple influences cause cystic acne, including hormones, bacteria and your sebum. Dietary factors, like high sugar diets, can also trigger cysts.

What role does sunscreen play in the treatment for cystic acne?

Sunscreen won’t heal cystic acne but it is important to wear sunscreen if you have cystic acne to prevent it from getting worse. Cystic acne is inflammatory, and anything inflammatory can lead to hyperpigmentation, especially when combined with the sun’s rays. Using sunscreen can help prevent hyperpigmentation. Also, wearing sunscreen will help prevent pigment accumulation, which is what causes acne scars.

Could wearing sunscreen help prevent cystic acne from forming?

I am doubtful that just wearing sunscreen would work on its own, but skin with good “skin quality” recovers faster and responds better to RX and over-the-counter medications. So wearing a sunscreen that keeps your skin happy will definitely help. You’ll want to choose sunscreens that work like skincare – for example, for drier skin, Unseen Sunscreen protects with SPF 40 but also contains ingredients to hydrate and balance skin. For those with oilier skin, Mineral Matte Screen does double duty by protecting with SPF 40 and keeping skin matte.


Wearing sunscreen will help prevent the development of pigment accumulation, which is what causes acne scars.

What’s the worst thing you can do to aggravate cystic acne?

The worst thing you can do is pick at it! Avoid the urge to squeeze or pop pimples. This will lead to worse scarring and traumatizing skin is always a bad idea.

What kind of sunscreen should people who have cystic acne look for? What should they avoid?

Avoid oil and the word comedogenic. Look for matte formulas if you have oily skin, but drier skin types can also have cystic acne, so those with dry skin should look for an SPF with hydrating properties. As a general rule of thumb, your skin should feel moisturized but not greasy after applying SPF.

Aside from sunscreen, what’s the best way to treat cystic acne?

See a board-certified dermatologist. Cystic acne usually requires oral medication or lasers. Every day at my practice, I see people who have used numerous topical products and wasted a lot of time and money when they really needed a stronger medication that can only be prescribed by a dermatologist. Cysts lead to scars and that is nothing to mess around with; scars can last a lifetime.

+Have more questions about cystic acne? Leave them in the comments and we’ll get the answer for you!

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