Hormones: As we mentioned earlier, cystic acne is primarily driven by our hormones. According to Rouleau, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, an IUD, and birth control pills can all impact cystic acne (both positively or negatively depending on the person), as they all influence our body’s hormone activity.
Diet: Perhaps you’ve already heard it around the rumor mill, but dairy, in particular, is problematic when it comes to cystic acne. “If you’re developing cystic breakouts along the jawline and neck area, it might be a sign that you’re consuming more dairy than your body can tolerate,” notes Rouleau. Our skin naturally acts as an excretory system to get rid of things our body doesn’t agree with or has too much of. So if you’re sensitive to dairy or you’ve been imbibing more than usual, you’re body might be trying to expel what it doesn’t need.
In general, try to focus on a balanced, clean diet with lots of nutritious greens and healthy fats. And if you suspect dairy could be causing your cystic breakouts, Rouleau recommends completely cutting out dairy for a full three weeks and keeping a food diary, which will help keep you accountable.
“If you don’t develop any new cysts then this might solve your problem,” she explains. “It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to eat dairy again—just be mindful as you slowly introduce it back into your diet. The point at which you start breaking out again shows your body’s tolerance level.”