If you've ever had a cystic acne breakout, you know it's way different from waking up with a few ugly whiteheads, or even a whopper of a zit right in the middle of your forehead. In my own experience, cystic acne feels like your face is covered with tiny, lumpy mountains of pain. Honestly, the most frustrating thing about cystic acne is that it persists. It's really hard to clear up, and if you have it, you've definitely wondered if there is a cure for acne somewhere out there that you might have somehow overlooked.
Well, friends, if you regularly deal with cystic acne like myself, then I have some pretty freaking good news for you: An acne vaccine might just be on the horizon for all of us who can't help but cringe each time a new pimple pops up on our faces. Now, just to be clear, this treatment is still in development, meaning it's not available to the public yet, and it's specifically for people who have moderate to severe acne. In other words, this isn't the remedy you should resort to when you have a quick blip of a period breakout right before your cousin's wedding.
So here's the deal: According to ScienceDaily, a new study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology details some of the recent steps that researchers have been taking to create a legit vaccine for acne. Now, I'm not going to lie to you: The research on this is really dense and difficult to understand, but what's rather groundbreaking about this method of treatment is that the vaccine that's being developed — get this — targets the actual toxin secreted from the bacteria in the acne on your skin, instead of the invading pathogens that cause the acne to arrive in the first place. Basically, the vaccine is being designed to send those little acne-causing antibodies in your skin right to their grave. Targeting the toxin that is released from the zits themselves, according to the research, seems to "neutralize" the inflammatory response on the skin — which is, for lack of a better way to put it, great freaking news.
So, who is the human angel and hero to acne-sufferers everywhere who is developing this treatment? Well, that would be lead investigator and researcher Chun-Ming Huang, Ph.D., of the Department of Dermatology at the University of California, San Diego. Here's what Dr. Huang had to say about the research in an official statement:
Once validated by a large-scale clinical trial, the potential impact of our findings is huge for the hundreds of millions of individuals suffering from acne vulgaris. Current treatment options are often not effective or tolerable for many of the 85 percent of adolescents and more than 40 million adults in the United States who suffer from this multi-factorial cutaneous inflammatory condition. New, safe, and efficient therapies are sorely needed.
I feel that big time, Dr. Huang. Because the truth is, there are tons of treatments for acne out there, but when it comes to really severe cystic acne, it's often a real game of trial and error. And, oftentimes, having cystic acne also means, as the Mayo Clinic explains, resorting to medications, antibiotics, and/or all kinds of prescription-level topical ointments and creams — in addition, of course, to sticking to a consistent skincare regimen.
So, until the glorious day arrives when a vaccine is available to the public, if you've got cystic acne, I'd recommend reaching out to a dermatologist or esthetician who can help you figure out the best course of treatment. We're all in this together, fam.