What Are Skin Comedones?
Skin comedones are not a fun problem to deal with. These little bumps that are so common in teenagers and people with oily, acne-prone skin can be a source of annoyance for anyone who wants a smooth, healthy looking complexion.
Comedones are another term for whiteheads and blackheads. Blackheads are referred to as open comedones, and whiteheads are called closed comedones. Comedones arise when pores become blocked with an oily substance called sebum Ė a sticky substance produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin.
Blackheads or open comedones have direct contact with the air which causes the sebum to oxidize and appear dark in color. This gives rise to tiny black bumps on the skin surface in areas that are oily such as the nose. Whiteheads or closed comedones have a thin layer of cells on top of them that blocks contact with air which prevents sebum oxidation. This causes small white or clear bumps to form on the skin.
How Do You Get Rid of Them?
A consistently good skin care regimen can reduce the number of skin comedones. Proper cleansing is important to remove excess oil and sebum, but over-cleansing can stimulate oil production which can make the problem worse. The best approach is to clean once a day with a mild, non-drying soap such as Neutrogena or Dove. Some dermatologists recommend applying 2.5 % benzoyl peroxide after cleansing. This helps to reduce dead skin cells and bacteria that derive nourishment from the sebum in the comedones. When these bacteria are present it sets up an inflammatory reaction that can lead to painful cystic acne lesions.
The prescription product Retin-A is effective for many people with skin comedones and acne. It works by increasing cell turnover which helps to keep the follicles from becoming clogged with sebum which can lead to comedone formation. A dermatologist can prescribe this, but be prepared. It can cause skin irritation at first and it takes a while to see results.
Other Ways to Treat Skin Comedones
In severe cases, blackheads and whiteheads can be treated by manually extracting the sebum using an instrument called a comedone extractor. Estheticians are able to do this in their office, and it should only be done by a professional since it can lead to scarring if done improperly. This isnít one you should try at home.
The Bottom Line?
A good cleansing routine thatís not too drying is the most important step for reducing skin comedones. Benzoyl peroxide applied daily after cleansing and use of Retin-A may be helpful for some people. Avoid comedone extraction, if possible, to reduce the risk of scarring.