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Clogged Pore Treatment

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
Clogged Pore Treatment
Warming the skin can open pores, making the blockages easier to remove. Photo Credit ferlistockphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Pores are glands on the surface of the skin that excrete sweat, salt and oil. They regulate your body's heat as well as keep the skin moisturized and healthy. Sometimes, though, blockages can develop in the pores. The cause of the blockage is usually due to some excretion accumulating on the walls of the pore, creating a partial or complete blockage. Knowing how this develops makes it easier to pursue a treatment plan.

Why Do They Clog?

In most cases, clogged pores are blocked by sebum, or oil, that accumulates and hardens in the pores. This is more likely to occur on skin prone to high oil production, or on skin that is infrequently or poorly washed. These blockages sometimes oxidize when exposed to the air for a long period of time, resulting in visible blackheads. In some cases, a blockage can also lead to inflammation, swelling and a pimple.

Pimple Problem

If a pimple develops, you will have a red spot for several days and may develop a white pus head where the pore has become fully blocked. In other cases, individuals simply suffer from an exposed, blackened blockage that is noticeable to people they meet with face-to-face. This can be embarrassing depending on the size of the blackhead. In some cases, clogged pores can also cause infections in the skin — especially if the clog turns into a pimple that later pops, creating an open wound.

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OTC Help

Two of the best active ingredients in facial creams for the treatment of clogged pores are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These work in similar ways. Benzoyl peroxide is often recommended to break down oil that accumulates in pores while removing dead skin cells that may be trapping oil in them. Salicylic acid also breaks down sebum, and it can also help break down whiteheads and blackheads that develop. Both treatments can be found in over-the-counter facial creams or cleansers, and higher concentrations are found in prescription medications.

How to Unclog

There are two simple ways to extract clogged pores that develop a head. Blackhead strips are an accessible, common method of treatment. These adhesive strips bind to the tops of blackheads, and when the strip is removed, pull them from the pore. Many times the top portion of blackheads can be removed, and in some cases the entire blockage can be pulled out. If this fails, a dermatologist can also use a surgical instrument to fully remove the blackhead.

Other Treatments

A popular at-home method for removing clogged pores involves applying a hot compress to the skin. Heat helps dilate pores, which can relieve full blockages and make it easier to remove them. Many people choose to apply a compress prior to using a blackhead strip in order to improve its effectiveness. You can also try squeezing out blackheads, but it is important to press gently and only use the pads of the fingers. If you can't get the blackhead out on the first or second try, move on to another approach.

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