Cystic Acne Around the Mouth: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention


Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Among its various forms, cystic acne is one of the most severe and challenging types to deal with. When cystic acne occurs around the mouth, it can be particularly bothersome due to its visibility and potential impact on self-esteem. In this article, we will explore the causes, treatment options, and preventive measures for cystic acne around the mouth.

Understanding Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Unlike regular pimples, cystic acne forms deeper within the skin and appears as large, painful, and inflamed bumps. When this condition occurs around the mouth, it is often attributed to specific factors that trigger or exacerbate the condition.

Causes of Cystic Acne Around the Mouth

  1. Hormonal Imbalances: Fluctuations in hormones, particularly androgens like testosterone, can lead to an overproduction of sebum (oil). This excess sebum production can clog pores and trigger cystic acne outbreaks, especially around the mouth area.
  2. Poor Skincare Habits: Failing to cleanse the skin properly or using harsh skincare products can irritate the skin and contribute to the development of cystic acne.
  3. Diet: Certain foods, especially those high in refined sugars and dairy, have been linked to acne breakouts. Consuming these foods may worsen cystic acne, particularly around the mouth.
  4. Stress: High-stress levels can exacerbate hormonal imbalances and inflammation, leading to increased cystic acne activity.
  5. Genetic Predisposition: Family history and genetics can play a role in an individual’s susceptibility to cystic acne.

Treatment Options for Cystic Acne

  1. Topical Treatments: Over-the-counter or prescription-strength topical treatments containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids can be effective in reducing inflammation and controlling cystic acne. These treatments work by unclogging pores and promoting skin cell turnover.
  2. Oral Medications: In severe cases, a dermatologist may prescribe oral antibiotics or hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives or anti-androgens, to regulate hormones and reduce acne activity.
  3. Isotretinoin (Accutane): Isotretinoin is a powerful oral medication reserved for severe, treatment-resistant cystic acne. It significantly reduces oil production and shrinks the sebaceous glands, providing long-term remission for many patients.
  4. Cortisone Injections: For particularly inflamed and painful cysts, a dermatologist may administer cortisone injections to quickly reduce swelling and discomfort.
  5. Light and Laser Therapies: Light-based therapies, such as photodynamic therapy or laser treatments, can help kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Preventing Cystic Acne Around the Mouth

  1. Gentle Skincare Routine: Adopt a gentle cleansing routine using a mild cleanser twice daily to remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup without irritating the skin.
  2. Avoid Touching the Face: Touching the face frequently can transfer dirt and bacteria to the skin, worsening acne. Additionally, avoid squeezing or picking at cystic acne, as this can lead to scarring and further inflammation.
  3. Balanced Diet: Incorporate a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Reduce the consumption of sugary and processed foods.
  4. Stress Management: Engage in stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, or regular exercise to minimize the impact of stress on hormonal balance and acne development.
  5. Cleanse After Eating: Rinse your mouth after eating to remove any potential food residue that might contribute to acne around the mouth.


Cystic acne around the mouth can be a distressing condition, causing discomfort and impacting self-confidence. Understanding the underlying causes and following a consistent and targeted treatment plan, along with preventive measures, can help manage and reduce cystic acne outbreaks. Remember to seek guidance from a dermatologist for a personalized approach and treatment options tailored to your specific needs. With dedication and patience, it is possible to achieve clearer, healthier skin and regain your confidence.

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