How to treat closed comedones?

When I entered puberty, I saw small flesh-colored, slightly white bumps on my chin. They weren’t visible for the naked eye. I had to tighten my chin to reveal them. Most of the bumps were right under my lower lip, but barely visible.

But I had them and I had to do something about them, I thought. So I went to the drugstore and brought Clearasil. Clearasil was kind of the 90s skincare for teenagers, at least in The Netherlands. They advertised in commercials, every teen magazine and in bus shelters. And you could get a sample everywhere.

I was completely convinced that Clearasil would give me a smooth skin, so I started with the Clearasil skincare routine. Every night I washed my face with their special soap and exfoliate my skin with their lotion. At the time, I didn’t have any (visible) pimples, so it was only necessary for my closed comedones. But because I wanted to prevent rather than cure, I treated my entire face.

In retrospect, I had few adolescent pimples (and that wasn’t because of the Clearasil), but the closed comedones didn’t disappear. I couldn’t squeeze it -I was left with ugly scars. But since they were barely visible, I let them stay for years. With the knowledge of today, I know that the bumps are called: closed comedones. And I found out how to treat them.

What are closed comedones?

Closed comedones on forehead
Closed comedones on forehead
Photo: adressss via Getty Images

Let me first explain what they are exactly. Closed comedones are an acne form. It’s a pore that is clogged with excess oil, bacteria and dead skin cells. They are covered by a layer of skin cells. That’s why they look flesh-colored and slightly white. Therefor they are also called white heads, but they don’t have a head that can be popped.

Wether you suffer from closed comedones depends on your skin type, but it’s more common with Asian skin. Here’s why: If you have an oily skin or have a lot of dead skin cells, you’ll suffer from it more often. When your sebaceous glands produce more oil, your pores quickly become clogged. So you get closed comedones.

When you have them on your chin or jawline, it has to do with your hormones. When your hormone levels change, your sebaceous glands produce excess oil in this area. You then get hormonal acne in the form of closed comedones.

Closed comedones treatment

Photo: RyanKing999

Closed comedones are often easily to treat. Add certain products to your skincare regime and you’re done in no time. Use the following products in your skincare routine:

  • Chemical exfoliants. Gentle exfoliants keep your pores clean. They break down the dead skin cells, oil and bacteria that clog your pores. Use exfoliants that contain salicylic acid and glycolic acid.
  • Benzoyl peroxide. You can use this ingredient for all types of acne. It kills the bacteria in your pores. You can use benzoyl peroxide on its own, but you can also combine it with chemical exfoliants.
  • Noncomedogenic products. These products are less likely to clog your pores which can lead to breakouts.
  • Retinoid. Retinoid or retinol, retinal, and adapalene are all derivates of vitamin A. These ingredients speed up the cell renewal processes. This makes your dead skin cells fall off faster, giving you a smoother skin. When you first use retinoid, it can be a bit irritating. Therefor use them for a few days before you start completely. Important to remember: if you’re using retinoid, don’t use chemical exfoliants at the same time.

After using these ingredients, you’ll see less closed comedones. But don’t expect immediate results. It may take about 3 months to see full effect.

What if the closed comedones don’t disappear?

If you notice that your closed comedones treatment isn’t working, see a dermatologist. A dermatologist gives you a prescription-strenght topical treatment, like a stronger retinoid.

As long as you take good care of your skin with the right ingredients, the closed comedones should stay away.

Photo by Handy Wicaksono on Unsplash

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