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Which Is Better: Hot or Cold Compress for Acne Cyst?

Acne can be a daunting opponent. It's a persistent, fluctuating condition that requires continual care and often a lifestyle adjustment. Among all types of acne, cystic acne is considered one of the most severe, causing large, inflamed cysts beneath the skin’s surface. Many turn to over-the-counter remedies such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids for treatment, but there's one age-old question we all keep asking: which is better, a hot or cold compress for an acne cyst?

This comprehensive guide will unravel the mystery behind the hot or cold compress for acne cyst debate. We'll take a deep dive into the benefits of each method and discuss the best practices for treating these stubborn cystic breakouts.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Both hot and cold compresses treat acne cysts differently – the former promotes healing and drainage while the latter reduces inflammation and soothes redness.
  • It's not about choosing one over the other; it's more about knowing when to use each method based on your acne condition.
  • The effectiveness of compress treatments for cystic acne can be significantly enhanced when combined with a consistent skincare routine.
  • Exposed Skin Care products offer a science-backed yet natural approach to tackling acne, providing a comprehensive solution that synergizes with traditional compress treatments.

Getting cold compress in face clinic

The Nature of Acne and Cysts

Cystic acne, a severe type of acne, is primarily caused by the accumulation of excess oil and dead skin cells in the pores, leading to a bacterial infection that inflames the surrounding skin. This inflammation then develops into an acne cyst, a deeply rooted pocket of pus beneath the skin's surface.

These cystic pimples can be significantly more challenging to treat since cystic acne often resides deep under the skin, unlike a typical whitehead or blackhead that sits closer to the skin's surface. That’s why it’s essential to know how to properly apply a warm or cold compress to help shrink a cystic pimple at home without causing additional damage.

Hot vs Cold Compress: Which One to Choose?

The choice between a hot or cold compress for acne cysts largely depends on the state of your cystic breakout. Let's investigate both approaches and understand how they interact with inflamed cysts.

Warm Compress: The Healing Soother

Applying a warm compress to acne cysts can have multiple beneficial effects. Warmth naturally softens the skin, and the gunk clogs the pore, which can help with drainage. A warm compress also promotes blood circulation, speeding up healing by delivering vital nutrients to the affected area.

To use a warm compress for your acne:

  1. Soak a washcloth in warm water and wring out the excess.
  2. Apply the warm washcloth to the acne cyst for five to 10 minutes, several times per day.
  3. Ensure the water is warm but not hot to avoid burning the skin.

A warm compress can be effective in treating acne, but it's important to remember that too much heat can also inflame the skin further. Therefore, use a warm compress judiciously and pay attention to how your skin reacts.

Man getting a hot compress in a barber shop

Cold Compress: The Inflammation Fighter

On the other hand, a cold compress is used primarily to help reduce inflammation and soothe the redness associated with acne cysts. Cold temperature constricts blood vessels, helping to reduce swelling and inflammation.

To use a cold compress:

  1. Wrap a few ice cubes in a paper towel or a soft cloth.
  2. Apply the ice pack to the acne cyst in increments for up to 5 minutes several times daily.
  3. Never apply ice directly to the skin to avoid frostbite.

A cold compress can be a helpful remedy for immediate relief from pain and inflammation, but it doesn't necessarily treat the root cause of acne or promote healing.

So, Which Is Better?

As we can see, both hot and cold compresses serve different purposes in the journey of treating acne. The decision between a hot or cold compress for acne cyst is not a one-size-fits-all answer but depends on the individual's situation.

If your cystic acne is at a stage where it’s painful and extremely inflamed, a cold compress might be a better choice initially to help decrease inflammation and soothe the area. Once the inflammation has reduced, a warm compress can then be applied to help promote drainage, soften the skin, and speed up the healing process.

However, it’s important to remember that while these methods may help alleviate the symptoms of cystic acne, they don’t address the root cause of this severe type of acne. Hence, a well-rounded skincare routine and, in some cases, topical treatment or prescription acne medication might be necessary.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While we've covered how to use hot and cold compresses for acne cysts properly, it's also important to highlight some common mistakes people often make when treating their acne at home.

  • Trying to Pop or Squeeze the Cyst: This is a big no-no. Popping the cyst can push the infection deeper into the skin, worsening inflammation and can also lead to scarring.
  • Not Washing Your Face Properly: Using a gentle cleanser to wash away excess oil and dead skin cells can help prevent clogged pores that lead to acne.
  • Ignoring the Role of Diet: Certain foods, especially those high in sugar and dairy, can trigger hormonal imbalances leading to cystic acne.
  • Skipping a Daily Skincare Routine: Regular skincare, including cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, is crucial in maintaining skin health and preventing breakouts.

Image of woman doing her skin care routine

The Power of Exposed Skin Care in Managing Acne

In the realm of skincare, Exposed Skin Care has emerged as an effective means to combat deep acne. This dermatology-backed brand offers a myriad of products, from spot treatments to entire skincare kits, harnessing both science and nature to combat acne.

Exposed Skin Care Basic Kit

Benefits of using Exposed Skin Care include:

  • Home Remedy and Science Fusion: Exposed Skin Care combines the power of scientific acne-fighting ingredients with natural extracts, marrying the effectiveness of prescribed treatments with the gentleness of home remedies.

  • Comprehensive Spot Treatment: Their spot treatment, enriched with potent ingredients like sulfur and resorcinol, is particularly effective for cystic acne that doesn’t go away with traditional OTC remedies.

  • Cortisone-Free Solutions: Those wanting to avoid cortisone can rest easy. Exposed Skin Care products don't rely on this type of inflammatory medication.

  • Proven Methodology: Adhering to strict sourcing guidelines, Exposed Skin Care bases their formula development on findings from academic research institutions, ensuring safe and effective solutions.

  • Supplementary to Compress Treatments: While using a cool compress for five to 10 minutes can help reduce inflammation, Exposed Skin Care offers ways to help tackle the root cause of acne, making it easier to get rid of cystic zits.

Remember, the best acne treatment methods often combine targeted skincare products and daily skincare routines.



Navigating the path of acne treatment, particularly with cystic acne, may seem daunting, but understanding the various remedies and how they work can help simplify the journey. It's important to remember that acne can also reflect internal health and external factors, and treating it goes beyond surface-level solutions.

Both hot and cold compresses can offer relief for different stages of cystic acne, from reducing inflammation to promoting healing. While cysts aren’t always responsive to basic treatments and sometimes don’t go away quickly, consistent care with compresses, combined with a dedicated skincare routine, can aid in managing their symptoms.

With its fusion of science-backed ingredients and natural extracts, Exposed Skin Care can also offer additional support in the battle against acne. It's a testament to how skincare advancements continue to provide us with more effective ways to handle this pervasive skin condition.

Ultimately, it's not about whether a hot or cold compress for acne cyst is superior. Instead, it's about understanding your unique skin condition and knowing how to utilize these treatments effectively for your specific situation. Each acne journey is individual; what works best depends on your skin's needs and reactions. Keep exploring, stay consistent, and be patient in your journey towards healthier skin.


Q: Can a hot or cold compress for acne cyst completely cure my acne?

A: While hot and cold compresses can help alleviate cystic acne symptoms by reducing inflammation and promoting healing, they cannot cure acne completely. They should be part of a comprehensive acne treatment plan, which may also involve a consistent skincare routine, over-the-counter remedies, and prescription treatments.

Q: Can I use a hot and cold compress alternately on my acne cysts?

A: Yes, alternating hot and cold compresses can be beneficial. Starting with a cold compress can help reduce inflammation and swelling while following up with a warm compress can promote healing and help the pimple come to a head. Always apply a barrier, like a washcloth or paper towel, between the ice or heat source and your skin to prevent any potential damage.

Q: I read that green tea can help with acne. Can I use a green tea bag as a warm compress?

A: Yes, you can. Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation and redness. Simply steep a green tea bag in warm water, let it cool down to a comfortable temperature and then apply it to the acne cyst as a warm compress.

Q: I've heard of people using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat acne. Should I do the same?

A: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and pain associated with acne. However, these are not a long-term solution and should be used sparingly. Always follow the dosage instructions on the packet.

Q: How do I know if my acne needs more serious treatment?

A: If your acne is persistent, very painful, causing scars, or not responding to over-the-counter treatments, it may need a more targeted treatment plan. In such cases, it's advisable to consult a board-certified dermatologist who can provide expert advice and treatment options based on your specific condition.