Closed comedones and open comedones consist of the same material, which is typically a combination of dead skin cells, oil, and sebum. However, whiteheads are closed pores, while blackheads are open pores. This key difference impacts how you should treat each type.
What Are Whiteheads?
Whiteheads are typically small but firm. They are white or yellow in color and occur when your pores become clogged with a build-up of bacteria and sebaceous material. Whiteheads are different from blackheads because whiteheads close the opening of a pore. If left untreated, whiteheads often tend to turn into acnes. If your whiteheads become inflamed and turn red, chances are they have turned into acnes.
What Are Blackheads?
Like whiteheads, blackheads form when your pores become clogged. However, blackheads live within an open pore, which exposes the material inside to oxygen. This reaction that known as oxidation, darkens the material inside. Like whiteheads, blackheads are a form of noninflammatory acne but can turn into acnes if you don’t remove them.
Blackheads sometimes look similar to sebaceous filaments, which are collections of sebum that line your pores. Sebaceous filaments often look tan or grey compared to darker blackheads. Unlike blackheads, sebaceous filaments are naturally produced by your skin helping moisturize and protect your skin. You can reduce the appearance of sebaceous filaments and blackheads by focusing on a skincare routine that removes excess oil from your skin.
What Causes Comedonal Acne?
Comedones form when excess oil and dead skin cells block the oil-producing glands in the skin. This causes the affected pores to bulge outward, creating the bumps. Several factors can contribute to the development of comedonal acne. They include:
- Hormonal Imbalance. Hormonal imbalances can trigger comedonal acne. You may sometimes notice acne when you are around your period.
- Heredity. Comedonal acne may run in families. If your parent has had comedonal acne, there is a high chance that you will have it.
- Improper Skin Care. Improper cleansing and lack of moisturizing can lead to the buildup of dead skin cells and clog pores.
- Comedogenic Skin Care Products. Certain skin care products may flare up comedonal acne.
- Skin Treatments. Skin treatments like laser therapy or chemical peels can lead to comedonal acne.
- Diet. Food high in sugar and fats have the tendency to cause breakouts in the form of comedonal acne.
How to Get Rid of Comedonal Acne?
OTC (over-the-counter) treatments work well for comedonal acne. Bear in mind that with any treatment for comedonal acne, it takes about three months to see visible results. These are among OTC treatments that you can look for in any drugstore.
1. Salicylic Acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid)
Salicylic acid remains one of the first lines of defence to treat comedonal acne. It is fat-loving or lipophilic and penetrates the oil producing glands to unclog pores. It kills P.acnes bacteria and reduces the inflammation or redness associated with acne. Avoid using salicylic acid when you are using retinol as it may cause irritation.
2. Glycolic Acid (Alpha Hydroxy Acid)
Glycolic acid cleans the pores and removes the top layers of the skin, including comedones. It can even out the skin tone and give you a radiant glow.
3. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl Peroxide is also one of the effective topical treatments for comedones. It has an antibacterial effect and unclogs pores.
Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that help in skin cell turnover. Common retinoids that can be used for comedonal acne are tretinoin and adapalene. Retinoids produce fresh and tender cells that are prone to sun damage. It is important to use sunscreen while using retinoids. Never mix retinol with vitamin C as it can lead to adverse reactions.
Niacinamide is a wonderful ingredient in skin care. It is a vitamin B3 derivative and is excellent at controlling the excess production of sebum. It also reduces the appearance of blackheads and whiteheads. What’s more? It helps in giving your skin an even complexion.
Comedonal acne is a mild form of acne that usually subsides with topical treatment. However, if there are inflammatory lesions along with comedonal acne, antibiotics can be used. Tetracycline, doxycycline (Vibramycin), minocycline (Minocin) and erythromycin are common antibiotics for comedonal acne. These penetrate the sebaceous glands and also prevent the colonization of P.acnes bacteria.
Home Remedies for Comedonal Acne
Even though home remedies for comedonal acne do not find a place in scientific records, they are being used by people for their efficacy.
1. Facial Steam
A good steam can open up the pores and clear comedonal acne. This is the reason why your salon facials use steam between scrubbing and massaging the face. Apple cider vinegar H3 Apple cider vinegar is quite acidic and has the ability to dry the skin. It can remove the oiliness, clogged pores and associated comedones. Mix apple cider vinegar with warm water and apply it all over the face. Repeat a few times till you see the desired results.
Honey’s sticky nature makes it seep into the pores and repair them. It is an excellent antibacterial agent and dries up the comedonal acne.
3. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel, a common astringent, is used in many skin care products like toners and cleansers. It causes the pores to shrink, thereby pushing the clogged dirt to push up and get washed away.
How to Prevent Comedones?
Minor comedone outbreaks can be prevented or minimized by adjusting the way you care for your skin. Here are a few simple tips that may help prevent pore blockage:
- Wash only twice daily. Cleansing acne-prone skin more often can cause irritation and leave skin dried and inflamed. Inflamed skin is more vulnerable to infection, increasing the risk of acne pimples.
- Use non-comedogenic skin products. These are non-oily moisturizers, cleansers, and cosmetics designed to prevent pore blockage.
- Keep your makeup brushes and applicators clean. Sebum and dead skin cells can accumulate on bristles and pads. You can usually remove them with warm, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air-dry.
- Remove your makeup before bedtime. Sleeping with makeup residue contributes to pore blockage. Use a fragrance-free, non-alcohol makeup remover to avoid irritation. Some are infused with glycerine or aloe vera to help moisturize skin.
- Wash after strenuous activity. Don’t let perspiration and oil stay on your skin. Take a shower and immediately rehydrate with a light, oil-free moisturizer.
Comedonal acne is curable with topical therapy like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or OTC retinoids. If you do not see your acne improving even after 3-4 months, you may consider a visit to the dermatologist’s office. Your doctor may prescribe a different approach like manual extraction or a higher strength retinoid. Following a good skin care routine is as important as treating comedonal acne. Be patient while you are taking OTC treatments for comedonal acne.
Would you like to learn more? Because healthy skin matters! SkynFyx is run by a group of skin doctors and skincare experts who want everybody to achieve flawless skin at the cheapest possible cost. Skynfyx also can customize a skincare range just for your skin condition.