Cystic Acne: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 2/9/2021

Cystic acne is a form of the skin condition acne that is associated with long-standing, painful nodules of the face, back of neck, chest, and back. Cystic acne is thought to be a final stage of acne that often results in scarring of the skin.

Signs and symptoms of cystic acne include

  • pimples that contain a buildup of oil and dead skin cells,
  • uninflamed blackheads,
  • pus-filled pimples, and
  • large, red, and tender bumps on the face or chest, back, or neck.

The skin may also contain scars that were formed by previous pimples and pustules.

Cause of cystic acne

The exact cause of acne is not well understood, but it is believed to be related to hormonal factors. Family history may also play a role in its development.

Other cystic acne symptoms and signs

  • Large, Red, and Tender Bumps on the Face or Chest, Back, or Neck
  • Pimples That Contain a Buildup of Oil and Dead Skin Cells
  • Pus-Filled Pimples
  • Uninflamed Blackheads


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.