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Nodular Acne: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: 4 days ago

Woman with facial acne resting her head on her hands

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Among the various types of acne, nodular acne is particularly troublesome due to its severity and potential to cause long-term skin damage. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of nodular acne and practical advice on managing it.


What is Nodular Acne?

Unlike common pimples that occur on the surface, nodular acne forms hard, painful nodules beneath the skin. These nodules can persist for weeks or even months, often leaving behind scars.

illustration of nodular acne

Causes of Nodular Acne

Nodular acne is primarily caused by the overproduction of sebum, an oily substance that helps protect the skin. When excess sebum gets trapped in the pores along with dead skin cells, it creates an environment conducive for the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during adolescence, can also contribute to the development of nodular acne.

An illustration of the various layers of the skin

Treatment Options

Nodular acne is a severe form of acne that often requires medical intervention. The treatment options for nodular acne are diverse and should be tailored to the individual's specific needs and condition.

A man holding 3 capsules on his hand

Firstly, oral antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and fight the bacteria causing the acne. These antibiotics may include tetracyclines, such as doxycycline and minocycline. However, it's important to note that antibiotics are typically used for a short period due to concerns about antibiotic resistance.

Secondly, isotretinoin, a powerful medication derived from vitamin A, is often used for treating severe nodular acne. This medication reduces the size of the oil glands, thereby decreasing the amount of oil production. It also slows down the process of skin cell production, which can prevent clogging of the pores. However, isotretinoin has several potential side effects, including dry skin, nosebleeds, muscle aches, and mood changes. Therefore, it's typically used when other treatments have failed, and under close supervision of a healthcare provider.

Woman sitting down and holding birth control pills

Thirdly, hormonal therapies may be considered, especially for women who experience acne flare-ups around their menstrual cycle. These therapies can help regulate the hormonal fluctuations that can contribute to acne development.

Lastly, in-office procedures, such as laser therapy, chemical peels, and drainage and extraction, can also be used to treat nodular acne. These procedures should be performed by a dermatologist or a trained healthcare provider.

It's crucial to remember that nodular acne can be stubborn and may not respond to over-the-counter treatments. Therefore, seeking medical advice is recommended for individuals suffering from this condition. Moreover, since nodular acne can cause scarring, early treatment is essential to prevent long-term skin damage.

Prevention and Management

Preventing nodular acne involves a combination of good skincare practices and lifestyle changes. Regular cleansing, using non-comedogenic products, and maintaining a balanced diet can help manage sebum production and prevent acne breakouts. It's also crucial to avoid picking or squeezing the nodules, as this can lead to further inflammation and scarring.

Remember, while these strategies can help reduce the risk of nodular acne, they may not prevent it entirely, especially if you're genetically predisposed to this condition. Therefore, it's important to seek medical advice if you notice any signs of nodular acne.

Schedule a consultation today and start your acne recovery journey today.

Woman washing her face while looking in the bathroom mirror


Nodular acne can be a challenging condition to deal with, but understanding its causes and treatment options can make a significant difference in managing it. If you're struggling with nodular acne, remember that you're not alone and that effective treatments are available. Always consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment options.

This blog post was medically reviewed by Dr Summer Zhang.


2. Sun, K-L., & Chang, J-M. (2018). Special types of folliculitis which should be differentiated from acne. DOI: 10.1080/19381980.2017.1356519


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