Would you be surprised if I told you that a skin-toned bump on your chin is one of the types of acne? Acne is not only about annoying pus-filled pimples; it can also be referred to as less visible small blemishes, known as closed comedones. These “shy guys” can sit quietly here and there, hoping to go unnoticed. But here’s how we identify and show them the full power of proper skin care.
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What are Closed Comedones?
A closed comedo (singular of comedones) hides underneath the skin and looks like a little skin-colored bump with no open pore. This type of acne is not related to typical purulent pimples. Closed comedones are neither painful nor inflamed.
The formation process of closed comedo begins with a microscopic lesion. The pore is getting clogged because the abnormal amount of dead cells don’t shed properly. The microcomedo progressively fills up with more and more sebum and eventually advances into a big closed comedo. You may have this type of acne on the face, chest, back, and upper arms because these areas are known to have many oil glands.
What Causes Closed Comedones?
The very first and decisive cause of closed comedones is genetics. If your parents had acne, it’s likely that you’ll also develop it. Further, a combination of factors like hormonal fluctuations, comedogenic medication, unhealthy diet, smoking, stress, and pore-clogging cosmetics may enhance the likelihood of the occurrence of closed comedones. Let’s take a simple situation as an example:
Young (Factor 1 – hormonal changes) high school girl (Factor 2 – excessive stress due to school demands) with acne-prone oily skin type (Factor 3 – genetic predisposition) wears heavy makeup (Factor 4 – pore-clogging cosmetics).
It seems pretty clear because most teenagers have some type of acne. What if puberty is gone and you still have comedones? According to Bershad’s study, acne may persist into adulthood. Adult acne is associated with the same combination of factors, except that hormones are not as crazy as they are during puberty.
How to Get Rid of Closed Comedones?
- Use only non-comedogenic cosmetics.
- Stick to one comedolytic ingredient because acne treatment can be irritating.
- Choose a treatment based on your skin sensitivity. It could be a leave-on product, facial mask, or cleanser. What is the difference? While a leave-on product like a spot treatment, toner, or serum stays on your skin for a long time and can be irritating, a facial mask or cleanser has shorter contact and causes less reaction.
- Do professional or at-home extractions. This procedure can help jump-start your treatment and make your skin look better while you’re waiting for your comedonal acne treatments to work.
- Occasionally use gentle exfoliation. Chemical exfoliants are what you should try. Similar to physical exfoliants (like scrubs and brushes), they help remove dead cells in a much more controlled and accurate way.
- Don’t expect results too quickly. Being consistent is the key to success.
Best Closed Comedones Treatments
Salicylic acid is not for everyone and shouldn’t be used on damaged or irritated skin. We also strongly recommend you avoid it if you are allergic to aspirin or are pregnant. The ingredient only suits people with oily or combination skin. Salicylic acid dissolves dead cells and treats non-inflammatory lesions. For the very first time, apply a small amount of it to your wrist to test your reaction. Use either gel with salicylic acid (0.5–5%) once a day or cleanser/toner/serum (1–2%) one to two times a day.
Retinol is an excellent remedy for moderate acne. It decreases sebum production, treating existing comedones and preventing them from reoccurring. Start with a pea-sized amount of 0.25% OTC formula. Use the product once, then wait for 4 days to check the skin reaction. If you notice redness or severe irritation, apply retinol no more often than every 3-4 days for the first 2-3 weeks. After the period of “retinization,” use the product every other night and watch for any side effects. Wear SPF daily because sunlight reduces the efficacy of the product.
Niacinamide is like a vacuum cleaner for closed comedones. It regulates the amount of sebum production and keeps debris from accumulating in the pores. This ingredient is gentle and works for any skin type. Moreover, niacinamide can be used in combination with almost every other ingredient except vitamin C. Choose a product containing at least 5% of niacinamide and make sure it is listed in the first three ingredients.