Closed Comedones

Comedonal acne typically appears on the face, especially on the nose, forehead, and the chin area. It can lead to occasional inflammatory breakouts. Generally, this blemish is referred to as a comedone, a mixture of oil and dead skin cells that cause blockages to the pores on the skin.

Comedonal acne can either be severe or mild and can range from a handful of specks on the face to a large covering on the face or all over the body.

Open comedones vs. closed comedones

There are two types of comedones – closed and open comedones. The type of comedones you have determines whether you will develop bumps or blackheads. Open comedones result in blackheads. When oil and dead skin cells get trapped in the pores, their topmost parts get exposed to air, turning dark brown or black as a result of this exposure to form blackheads.

Closed comedones or whiteheads, on the other hand, are closed pores with oil and dead skin cells trapped within the skin without oxygen supply. They result in plain bumps or lumps on the skin that do not inflame, hurt, or turn red.

So what causes comedonal acne?

There is no straightforward answer to this question since facial problems are caused by a combination of factors. Some experts believe that hormones are the primary triggers of comedonal acne while others believe that they result from wrong medication, genetic predisposition, allergic reaction, environmental pollution, use of certain cosmetic products, stress and poor diet. Some forms of acne can also be attributed to underlying medical conditions. As such, successful treatment of comedonal acne depends on an accurate determination of the root cause. Here is a list of the possible causes of closed comedones.

  • Low levels of linoleate in sebum that results in reduced barrier function
  • Diet, especially frequent consumption of high-glycemic-index foods like sugars, fats, and milk products
  • Free fatty acids that are synthesized by acne bacteria from sebum
  • DHT (a male sex hormone 5-testosterone) that triggers excessive activity within the skin cells
  • Contact with cosmetic dyes, isopropyl myristate, propylene glycol, oily pomades, and other chemicals.
  • Smoking: people who smoke are more prone to comedonal acne than non-smokers
  • Over-hydrating the skin using moisturizers
  • Raptures that result from squeezing pimples, abrasive scrubbing, laser treatment or chemical peels
  • Cell signaling proteins (IL-1 and IL-8) which are secreted by the cell lining in response to the activation of the innate immune system.

Treating closed comedones

Never squeeze skin bumps, be they whiteheads or blackheads, out of your skin using fingers that are not sterilized. That said, here are three closed comedones treatments that you can consider. You can combine these remedies for better and faster results. Most important, drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day is essential as water plays a crucial role in flushing out toxins from the body as well as ensuring healthy skin.

Option 1: Homemade remedies

There are lots of comedone home remedies out there. For instance, you can make special syrup using water, sugar, and lemon juice. Thoroughly mix to create a thick paste. Apply on the target and leave to dry for some time. Rinse and repeat the procedure for two to three weeks. This paste works by unclogging pores on the skin.

Option 2: Prescribed medications

Over-the-counter medications like Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid are effective for treating closed comedones. Benzoyl Peroxide contains antibacterial properties that are very effective for penetrating deep into the pores to kill acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic Acid, on the other hand, works by loosening the cells on the skin to prevent the buildup of comedone causing materials.

Other medications that can be used for treating closed comedones include:

  • Acnezine
  • Derminax
  • H-acne formula
  • Retin-A

Option 3: Cosmetics

Not all cosmetic products are acne causing. If you want to avoid most skin problems, consider using non-petroleum beauty products. Additionally, you can turn to chemical peels to treat deep and infected comedones.

Self-care tips for closed comedones

There are self-care tips that you can apply to treat or prevent acne and closed comedones. These include:

  • Washing your skin twice per day (when you wake up and before going to bed) using lukewarm water and mild soap.
  • Avoid squeezing pimples or touching your skin with non-sterilized fingers
  • Exercising caution when shaving
  • Avoid excessive use of petroleum-based cosmetic products
  • Use of oil-free skin products
  • Ridding your face of makeup before getting into bed
  • Putting on loose clothing that is made from non-synthetic fabrics like cotton
  • Treating your skin with fragrance-free water-based emollients
  • Keeping hairspray away from your skin and face when washing your hair
  • Using non-pore clogging skin products

Common closed comedone FAQs

Where do closed comedones occur?

Closed comedones can develop anywhere on the body. However, they are prone to developing in body areas with high concentrations of pilosebaceous materials like the face, back, chest, arms, and shoulders. On the face, closed comedones often populate the nose, forehead, and chin.

Are closed comedones painful?

Closed comedones, as their name indicates, are covered by a thin skin layer that encourages a build up of oil and dead skin cells just beneath the skin’s surface. Closed comedones are generally not painful.

Who is prone to getting closed comedones?

Closed comedones can be experienced at any stage of life depending on a number of factors. While closed comedones are not exclusive to any age bracket, they tend to be more prevalent in teenagers due to hormonal fluctuations. As puberty sets in, teenagers tend to experience an influx of androgen hormones. An increase in androgen production leads to a rise in sebum levels. A high concentration of sebum clogs the pores on the skin resulting in comedone and acne breakout.

While closed comedones might be unsightly, they generally do not pose any health concern. However, it is always a good idea to seek treatment and clear your skin of these blemishes especially when they are triggered by an underlying medical problem. Before embarking on any closed comedone remedy, be sure to discuss your options with a qualified dermatologist for best results. Additionally, adopting simple self-care tips like drinking at least eight glasses of water per day, avoiding fatty foods and petroleum-based cosmetic products, lifestyle changes like giving up smoking, and observing basic personal hygiene can go along way in preventing or minimizing the symptoms of closed comedones.