How to shrink a cystic pimple

Remedies to help get rid of cystic zits underneath your skin

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Curology Team
Jan 27, 2020 · 3 min read

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Woman with sticky note on face saying "Don't Pop" pointing at pimple
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

We know how frustrating a cyst can be, whether your issue is cystic acne, a sebaceous cyst, or a blind pimple that just won’t come to a head. You probably already know that squeezing or popping these types of lesions can make things a lot worse. Here are some methods you can try at home to help shrink a cystic acne lesion (and our recommendations for professional care).

Types of cysts

  • Blind pimple: under-the-skin bumps that haven't come to a head

  • Cystic acne: inflamed, nodular type of acne, usually caused by normal skin bacteria

  • Sebaceous cysts: more correctly termed “epidermal cysts,” these may or may not be associated with acne, but they usually develop without a clear explanation

The following methods often work for the 3 kinds of cysts listed above!

How to help get rid of your cystic pimple at home

1. Hydrocolloid bandages

Hydrocolloid bandages (also called pimple patches, zit stickers, or acne dots) help draw out the white gunk that’s clogging up pores. They help speed up the healing process, too. Some acne patches (like the emergency spot patch by Curology) are super thin, so they’re nearly invisible. So you can cover up your pimple while helping it heal faster.

You can get emergency spot patches delivered straight to your door by adding them to your Curology subscription. If Curology isn’t for you, don’t fret. There are other hydrocolloid bandages out there. You can even find them in the blister care section of your drugstore, though they’re a growing presence in skincare aisles, too!

Spot Patch

Curology Emergency Spot Patch — $4.95 / 20 patches

2. Hot compress

You can use something soaked in warm water to help soothe your cyst — a green tea bag is a great option. The caffeine of green tea constricts blood vessels directly below the skin's surface. This can help reduce swelling and even skin tone. However, burning your skin with a piping hot compress will make matters worse — wait for your compress to cool off enough so that it’s still very warm, but not so warm that it feels uncomfortable to hold against your skin.

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3. Cold compress

A cold compress may help decrease inflammation. Don’t put ice directly on your skin — wrap it in a clean, thin, soft cloth or place it in a ziplock bag. A chilled green tea bag is another great option. Press the cold compress against your inflamed spot or cyst for about 20 seconds or so until the skin feels a bit numb. Rest, then repeat for up to 5 minutes.

4. Advil

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil can be taken by mouth as directed to help decrease the swelling and tenderness of your cyst. It’s not a topical treatment but it can make you feel a lot more comfortable!

5. Cortisone

If you need a cyst gone fast, or if your cystic pimple won’t go away, you can visit a healthcare professional for an injection of a diluted cortisone medication called Kenalog. They’ll inject the medication directly into the cyst, shrinking it on the spot.

Custom prescription skincare for cystic pimples

Sometimes, the best offense is a good defense, which is where customized prescription skincare comes in. When you start your free trial of Curology, you’ll be paired with one of our in-house medical providers who will prescribe you a custom cream with a mix of 3 active ingredients to help prevent and treat skin concerns like cystic acne. Your first bottle of custom cream is free, and you can try our other products (like the emergency spot patch) at no extra cost — just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling.

Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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