Tips and tricks to help tackle Comedonal Acne
Having those small bumps on your face can sometimes be just as annoying as having that one pimple breakout. That’s how it is for me. Those small bumps may seem to look like just extra skin with nothing inside but actually they are considered a form of acne. Comedonal acne to be exact.
On the acne spectrum, comedonal acne is the mildest with cystic acne being the most severe, so it might seem easy to treat but as we all know, there is no universal acne treatment, and every skin reacts differently. So, we’re here to tell you all you need to know about comedonal acne – what it is, what causes it and how to treat it. Just continue scrolling!
What is comedonal acne?
Comedonal acne breakouts emerge when the oil glands are blocked by excessive cell growth. This results in increased oil production, more debris buildup which hinders the opening of the oil glands to the surface of the skin. It’s essentially extra skin cells on top and filled with oil buildup inside.
There are 2 types of comedonal acne – blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones).
Blackheads turn black at the surface because the open follicle turns black as it is exposed to air. Whereas whiteheads are covered by dead skin, sebum and bacteria, hence why they don’t turn black and are often harder to squeeze out.
Comedonal acne appear when there are the most oil glands, like the forehead, chin or T-zone, or sometimes the chest or back. Which explains the persistant blackheads on the nose and whiteheads on the forehead.
What causes comedonal acne?
Comedonal acne are commonly caused by pores being clogged by dead, extra skin cells and sebum that doesn’t allow the comedones to breath. However, hormones, daily habits, and lifestyle does play a part.
Hormonal imbalances is a common trigger for excessive sebum production and can even hinder the skin’s natural turnover rate. Meaning the dead skin doesn’t shed and remains on the surface. Comedonal acne, or any acne, is very common amongst teens during puberty.
Lifestyle causes are abundant. It can range from using the wrong skincare products to eating foods that are known to trigger breakouts.
Skincare: Using the products with an oilier base (makeup, moisturizers, facial oils and etc) can cause comedonal acne as it blocks the pores from breathing. This can be prevented by switching to a lightweight moisturizer or cleansing the skin properly, remember to always double cleanse even if you’re only using sunscreen!
Skin trauma: Although cleansing the skin is crucial, it is very important to not harm the skin with harsh cleansing ingredients or tools. This includes chemical peels, cleansing brush and excessive washing. Trauma can also be from popping a pimple. When the skin is disturbed and damaged, it invites bacteria, dirt to the wound which causes inflammation and more breakouts.
Haircare: Hair products can cause comedonal acne, especially those on the forehead or hairline. So, always keep the hairline free of oils, gels, spray or ensure it is clean every night before going to bed.
Hygiene: One common lifestyle tip that many aren’t aware can help reduce acne is washing the beddings and pillowcases frequently, at least once every week or every 2 weeks. There are countless bacteria residing on your pillowcases and beddings, so be sure to keep them clean.
Diet: You’ve probably noticed that some foods tend to cause more breakouts to happen. Foods with a high glycemic index are prone to causing more acne breakouts as they cause the hormones to spike or dip. Such foods include sugar, sugary foods, soft drinks, white bread, white rice, cereals, chips and more. What you can do is to fill your diet with more whole foods like vegetables, legumes, fruits, oats, and for bread, try to look for wholegrain/rye/sourdough.
Smoking: Smoking causes damage to the dermal elastic tissue, hence why it is easier for comedonal acne to appear.
Stress: Don’t stress about those tiny bumps it can make it worse! Stress causes the hormone levels to irregulate and we all know what happens after. Keeping stress at a minimum is extremely hard, especially in our generation and situation, working from home is stressful for many. Some tips we recommend introducing to your lifestyle is exercising, sleeping 8 hours a day, having a consistent sleeping pattern and keeping your body fueled with good, healthy food.
How to treat comedonal acne?
AHA/BHAs are a great alternative to harsh exfoliation (scrubs, tools) and is formulated in countless products, cleansers, toners, serums and etc. AHA/BHAs provide gentle exfoliating by getting rid of dead skin and loosening the buildup in pores, making it easier to cleanse the skin.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
- COSRX AHA BHA Clarifying Toner
- Some By Mi AHA/BHA/PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner
Retinoids or retinols speeds up the cell turnover rate which prevents comedone formation, ensuring that the oil glands aren’t blocked by excess skin. Not only are they great for preventing but retinoids and retinols can help treat existing comedone. Retinoids and retinol works to reduce inflammation, regulates normal keratin production in the follicle and reduces any scarring. To know more about retinoids and retinol, click here!
- The INKEY List Retinol Serum
- The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane
- CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
A very common ingredient used to treat all sorts of acne. Benzoyl Peroxide inhibits acne-causing bacteria from causing more damage, like inflammation or infection. It is also effective for unclogging pores.
Although not an acne-fighting ingredient, niacinamide can help with regulating excessive production of sebum. With less sebum produced, there will lesser formation of blackheads and whiteheads.
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
- A LA CARTE Vitamin B3 10% Niacinamide
- The INKEY List Niacinamide Serum
- Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster
Seek professional help
If topical treatments do not help and comedonal acne keeps coming back. Try seeking professional help as oral medication or cosmetic procedures may be required.
I hope this you've gained some new tips and tricks on how to treat comedonal acne, be it lifestyle changes or additions to your skincare routine. Just remember, comedonal acne happens to anyone and practically everyone. So don't feel embarrassed about it, comedonal acne is completely normal!