Basic Skin FAQs

What are Closed Comedones and How to Treat Them?

Only the very lucky few are immune from acne, blemishes, and spots. You might have heard about closed comedones, but you might not know what causes them or how to treat them.

What are closed comedones?

Closed comedones are comedonal acne. It is important to make a distinction between comedonal acne and “normal” inflammatory acne. With closed comedones, the skin is not inflamed, just bumpy. They are common with acne, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get acne if you have comedones.

There are two types of comedones – open and closed.

Open comedones are known as blackheads. They happen when there is an overproduction of sebum and the pore gets clogged. Sebum mixes with naturally occurring bacteria on the skin and dead skin cells and forms a plug. Because it is exposed to air, it oxidises. The plug changes colour and turns dark. That is where the name blackhead comes from.

On the other hand, when it comes to closed comedones, the opening of the pore is blocked. The plug doesn’t oxidise. It stays flesh coloured and looks like a bump on the surface of the skin.

What causes comedones?

Comedonal acne (both open and closed) is common in preteens and teens due to the hormonal changes. But people of all ages can get them. Some people can be more genetically predisposed to them. Closed comedones can also be caused by skincare and hair products that are unsuitable for your skin.

How to treat closed comedones?

treating adult acne

Don’t pick. We know, it is easier said than done. But by picking at comedones you can do more damage than good. It can lead to inflammation and scarring. The safest option is to go to a dermatologist or a facialist who will perform extractions.

Find your baseline routine. By that, we mean cleanser/serum/moisturiser/SPF. Ideally, it will consist of products that leave your skin comfortable and don’t break you out.

What are the best ingredients to treat closed comedones? Again every person is different (YMMV, remember?). Many people achieve good results with a combination of topical products that contain Retinol and Alpha-Hydroxy Acids. Both of these ingredients should prevent closed comedones from forming. Others swear by Beta Hydroxy Acid.

Do keep in mind you will need to introduce these products slowly into your routine if you never used a chemical exfoliant or retinol before. Again, the goal is to prevent damage and not stress your skin further.

In severe cases, discuss the matter with a dermatologist. A doctor will determine a precise diagnosis. Once that is done, there are a number of prescription strength topical treatments available.

Be patient. Even with prescription strength products, chances are you will not see results overnight.

Do you have closed comedones? How do you treat them?

About the author

Roberta Striga

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