What Is Cystic Acne On Chin And How Do You Get Rid Of It?

cystic acne on chin
cystic acne on chin

Having cystic acne on chin can cause you significant discomfort as those lesions are usually not just painful but also impact on your facial appearance. On a good note though, cystic zits can be effectively cured using over-the-counter and prescription medical treatment interventions. Some people may also clear the cystic breakouts on chin using home remedies that we will discuss below.

What Is Cystic Acne on Chin

Cystic acne is the most severe acne infliction that someone can suffer from. It manifests itself in large, deeply-embedded, red, painful, and often swollen lumps in the skin. In some cases, these lumps (called cysts) are so deeply embedded that they are not visible from the surface of the skin.

Compared to other forms of acne, i.e. whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and papules [read more about these acne lesions in the article on what is acne], cystic acne is less common (affecting only 2 in every 1000 US citizens according to the Center for Disease Control), but it is the most cumbersome to treat.

In some people, cystic acne on chin (and indeed other parts of the body) come and go but in others, it sticks around for years. The condition also carries a higher risk of scarring due to the degree of skin damage that it causes and the typically slow healing process.

The condition can also affect a small portion of your skin, for example, some people express concern about a severe breakout on chin only, or extend to cover larger areas. For example, it may spread outwards from the chin area to cover the area around the mouth, the jawline, the area under the chin, the neck, the cheeks etc.

How Cystic Acne Develops on the Chin

Our area of focus today is cystic acne on chin, but I think it would serve us well to, first of all, take a broader look at acne in general first before we delve into the specifics of shin cysts.

Generally, acne develops when the pores of the skin get blocked. Each pore contains a hair follicle and a sebaceous gland which secrete a special oily substance called sebum to keep the skin hydrated and healthy.

Sebum may get overproduced due to one of the factors discussed in the next section. When that happens, plugs form inside the hair follicle. These plugs usually constitute a mixture of sebum and old epidermal cells that have been shed off (exfoliated) as part of natural skin rejuvenation – to facilitate the growth of new healthy skin cells.

In most circumstances, “comedones” form. These are usually white (whiteheads) or black (blackheads). Comedones, that is whiteheads and blackheads, are usually not associated with inflammation or bacterial infection and as such the condition may be referred to as non-inflammatory acne breakouts.

The normally harmless anaerobic skin bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, however occasionally get involved leading to an infection in the plugged skin pore and inflammation of the surrounding tissues.

Propionibacterium acne bacterial infection usually results in the formation of pustules, papules, nodules and worst of them all, cysts. Cystic acne on chin (or any other part of the body) is therefore indicative of bacterial infection coupled with inflammation of skin tissues.

Some people refer to acne cysts as “pimples” but technically speaking, cysts are not true pimples; pustules are. Others refer to the cysts as spots, zits etc.

The exact type of acne lesion that develops when Propionibacterium acnes becomes involved vary depending on the impact it has on the affected hair follicle and surrounding tissues.

Firstly, the affected hair follicle can get irritated leading to papules. Secondly, the bacteria can inflame the affected hair follicle(s) leading to the formation of pustules (red, swollen, bumps that may contain pus). Lastly, the affected hair follicle can get so much inflamed that it ruptures beneath the surface of the skin. When that happens, the extent of inflammation “broadens” leading to hard, deeply-embedded, painful cysts (or zits if you like).

Although acne lesions (including cysts) tend to appear more on the face, they can as well affect other parts of the body such as upper arms, upper trunk (including the neck, chest, and back).

According to the WebMD website, severe cystic acne tends to affect men more but women can as well suffer from it. When women are affected, the cysts tend to affect the bottom half of their face (that includes the chin, mouth area, jawline, cheeks, and neck area).

Pictures of Cystic Acne on Chin

Now that we know what causes cystic acne on chin and other parts of the skin, let us now list several pictures showing patients with cystic chin breakouts:

cystic acne on chin picture 1 cystic acne on chin picture 2

What Causes Cystic Acne on Chin

Now that you know what those cystic plugs are and how they form, we next explore some of the possible causes of cystic acne on chin and other parts of the skin.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuation is the underlying cause of most cases of acne breakouts, including cystic acne. This usually begins at puberty when a surge in androgen hormones occurs consequently leading to an increase in sebum production in the sebaceous glands.

Acne breakouts occur when this excess sebum mix with dead skin cells and in case that the skin is not able to push the plug formed, it may rupture beneath the skin leading to the formation of cysts.

Hormonal fluctuation is the reason why acne tends to affect teenagers and younger adults in their 20s more. An estimated 80 percent of all people aged between 11 and 30 years will suffer from acne at some point in their lives.

Note, however, that hormonal fluctuations are not associated with teenage only. Some people who never got breakouts may all of a sudden develop bad breakouts much later in their life. This is referred to as adult acne.

Women, in particular, can at any time get hormonal cystic acne on the chin (or any other part of the body) or other forms of acne due to the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, menstruation cycles, menopause, and a condition referred to polycystic ovary Syndrome (often abbreviated as PCOS). PCOS is attributed to hormonal imbalances in women’s ovary.

Some women also develop hormonal acne when they start or stop using birth control pills.

Common Characteristic of Hormonal Acne

If you are not a teenager, you are most likely experiencing hormonal acne if you observe one or more of the following characteristics:

  • The breakout happens at predictable times e.g. when you are just about to complete the menstruation cycle, say in a week’s time, or during ovulation.
  • The flare-ups tend to occur below the cheekbone, particularly along the chin and jawline. Such flare-ups are much more likely to be triggered by hormonal fluctuations than those that occur on the forehead and in the nose bridge area.
  • The breakout is characterized by deep, cystic bumps or “pimples” that are tender and sore to touch (sometimes they get painful even without touching). This is because cysts are more common with hormonal acne.
  • The bumps start or get worse when you start or stop using birth control pills.
  • The breakout doesn’t respond to topical treatments.

Genetic Propensity

Acne also has a genetic aspect (a tendency to run in families) and if one of your parents has or at some point suffered from cystic acne, you also at a higher risk of developing the condition.

Other Likely Causes of Cystic Acne

The following factors may as well be the underlying factors for those painful zits on chin:

  • Use of particularly greasy moisturizers and cosmetics
  • Heavy sweating
  • High humidity
  • A side-effect of certain drugs, especially corticosteroids, lithium, phenytoin, and isoniazid which have been found to worsen acne breakouts.

How to Get Rid Of Cystic Acne on Chin

While there is no magic bullet that cures all cases of cystic acne and any other form of acne for that matter, it can in most cases be successfully managed with the help of various over the counter and prescription medications.

The best treatment for cystic acne will depend on the extent and stubbornness of the condition. For example, if over-the-counter treatments have failed to cure the condition, your dermatologist will then prescribe an appropriate medical treatment option.

Below are some considerations with regards to how to get rid of cystic acne on chin:

Benzoyl Peroxide

This weak organic acid is one of the most popular and effective acne treatments today. It has strong antiseptic properties that help to fight the bacteria responsible for cysts and other severe forms of acne. It also helps to break the comedones built up below the skin thanks to its mild comedolytic properties.

You can easily get your hands on one of the many over-the-counter acne treatment products that feature benzoyl peroxide either as the only active ingredient or in combination with other ingredients. Such products range from lotions to cleansing bars, creams, and gels and are typically applied once or twice each day.

Benzoyl peroxide comes in water based and alcohol based formulations, the choice of which depends on your specific skin type. Because of the drying effect of alcohol the latter option is best suited for people with oily skin with the former making for a better for people with normal or dry skin.

Benzoyl peroxide is associated with side-effects such as allergies and irritation but these are nevertheless very rare.

Read more: Benzoyl peroxide for acne


Isotretinoin is a popular prescription that is available under different brand names including Accutane that has been discontinued, Claravis, Absorica Sotret, Amnesteem, and Myorisan.

Although usually very effective for severe acne (like that cystic acne on chin that got you here, sorry J), Isotretinoin is not preferred for mild to moderate cases of acne (which should be treated with antibiotics first). 1mg is usually prescribed a day for every 1kg of body weight over a treatment period extending 16-20 weeks.

Your dermatologist may, however, prescribe higher or lower dosage as s/he deems appropriate e.g. due to intolerance.

Antibiotics to Treat Cystic Acne on Chin

Antibiotics may also help with cystic acne on chin. They are usually prescribed to fight the bacteria responsible for inflammation. Antibiotics should, however, be used for short-term treatment of acne breakouts. Your dermatologist will advise you accordingly.

Oral antibiotics are usually used alongside other topical treatments. Sulfa-based antibiotics the likes of Bactrim are increasingly popular because of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria resistance to other antibiotics such as Tetracycline.

For some people, treatment with antibiotics loses its effectiveness after years of using them.

Steroid Injections

Hormonal acne on chin may also be managed using steroid shots at a dermatologist’s office or facility. This involves injecting corticosteroids directly into the cysts to lessen inflammation. This would not only help to clear the zits on chin but also reduce the risk of scarring. The dermatologist may also drain larger cysts as part of the treatment.

Birth Control Pills

Hormonal acne on chin (in women) often respond well to treatment with birth control pills, under the supervision of a dermatologist. This is a long-term treatment option (usually over a period of at least 6 months) aimed at regulating the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands.

The contraceptive pills may also be prescribed alongside spironolactone which helps to inhibit the production of androgens.

More Ways to Get Rid Of Cystic Acne on Chin

  1. Avoid touching and picking at the zits. This may make the infection go even deeper into the skin or spread to other parts of the skin.
  2. Manage stress using relaxation techniques such as yoga. This is because stress has been linked to worsening of acne breakouts as a result of increased hormonal secretion.
  3. Observe your diet. Go slow on dairy products e.g. ice cream, cheese, etc. as well as high glycemic index foods such as spaghetti which may worsen the symptoms of acne.
  4. Wash your face with gentle, water-soluble cleanser and warm water twice daily. According to Paula Begoun, the Author of “Don’t go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me,” bar cleansers are a definite no-no as the ingredients that help to keep the soap in its bar form may plug the skin pores.
  5. Exfoliate your skin 1-2 times each day with an exfoliant that contains salicylic acid as the active ingredient. This helps to not only kill the offensive bacteria but also increase the rate of skin turnover, consequently unclogging the skin pores.

Home Remedies for Cystic Acne on Chin

Before you go for an over the counter treatment or seek the attention of your dermatologist, you may want to try using one of the following home and herbal remedies for cystic acne. Just keep an open mind as results are never typical and what works for one person may not be effective on another person.

1. Coconut Oil Home Remedy for Cystic Acne

Coconut oil is a great natural way to get rid of the pesky bumps and spots that are typical of cystic acne on chin. The healing power of coconut oil comes from the lauric acid and capric acid which are found in the oil. They have an antibacterial and antimicrobial action which is beneficial to acne.

And the best part, coconut oil is easily available at a very reasonable cost compared to other acne treatments.

We have already discussed the use of coconut oil for acne spots in another article.

2. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help to curb the swelling associated with cystic acne and reduce the reddish appearance. Here is how to use aloe vera to clear chin cystic breakouts:

  1. Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser
  2. Get a fresh aloe vera leaf and cut it into two halve by cutting it along the length
  3. Apply the juice oozing out from the leaf onto the zits. You can also use an aloe vera gel.
  4. Allow it to stay on the skin for 5-10 minutes and then wash it off with water
  5. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel

3. Tea Tree Oil Cystic Acne Remedy

Tea tree oil is also one of those amazing home remedies for acne. It may help get rid of that cystic on chin thanks to its strong antibacterial properties that help to fight the bacteria responsible for this painful condition.

How to use tea tree oil for cystic acne on chin

  • To 1/4cup of yogurt, add 10 drops or so of tea tree oil. Mix the ingredients properly and then apply the mixture to your face as a face mask. Wash it off with warm after 30 minutes. Repeat the procedure once daily until you achieve the desired results.
  • Alternatively, you mix add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil to aloe vera gel and slather it on as a face mask for 20 minutes before washing it off with water.

4. Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil, or EPO, also reign supreme among home remedies for cystic acne. It is loaded with Gamma-linoleic essential fatty acids which when consumed orally, helps to regulate the production of hormones in the body and reduce inflammation of the skin. [Read more about evening primrose acne treatment].

5. Hydrogen Peroxide Home Treatment for Acne Cysts

Other people have reported great success with hydrogen peroxide in as far as getting rid of acne naturally is concerned. The potency of hydrogen peroxide in this perspective comes from its antibacterial properties. Just keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide acne treatment is a short-term measure, especially given the drying and faster-aging effects of the peroxide.

6. Sugar Scrub

As we have already mentioned, dead skin cells build up in skin pores is partly to blame for cyst breakout on the chin. A sugar scrub can help get rid of this problem by encouraging exfoliation which then helps to clear the skin pores.

How to use a sugar scrub to fight cystic acne on chin:

Ingredients required:

  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons vanilla extract


  1. Combine all the ingredients to make a scrub to make a consistent paste
  2. Slather the paste all over your face to make a mask
  3. Stay with it on for 20 minutes and then wash it off with water.

You can store the remaining amount for the next treatment the following day

How to Prevent Cystic Acne on Chin

Once you have had things under control you will then want to take appropriate care to ensure that the condition doesn’t keep coming back. Preventing cystic chin breakouts ultimately rolls down to addressing the underlying factors.

To start with, you will want to adopt a proper skin care regimen that focuses on minimizing the accumulation of dirt and oils in the skin and encourage skin turn-around (exfoliation). In that regards, you will want to:

  • Move away from heavy or greasy moisturizers as they can clog the skin pores. Instead, use light-weight, preferably water-based lubricants in the form of gels or lotions.
  • Use gentle cleansers (not those harsh soaps or bar soaps) to wash your face twice daily.
  • Use products containing ingredients such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and enzymes to encourage exfoliation of dead skin cells from the pores.

That is all that we will discuss for now. Hopefully, we answered your question, “what is cystic acne on chin.” Please share your thoughts in the comments.