Open pores, clogged pores, blackheads and whiteheads
The skin, the most exposed part of the body and at the same time the most visible, has the highest chances of being affected by the elements of the environment. Traces of pollution can accumulate, pores can become clogged followed by the appearance of blackheads or whiteheads, infections and acne can occur.
The pores are the openings on the skin surface of the hair follicles, sebaceous glands and sweat glands. The pores should secrete a normal amount of sebum that disperses evenly on the skin, being an element of the skin's protective barrier. If sebum is secreted in excess, the ducts of the sebaceous glands dilate and the pores take on an unaesthetic appearance. Excess sebum plus untreated dead cells help block pores.
Although the tendency for open pores is hereditary, clogging is mainly due to the fact that the skin is not cleaned and cared for properly. The main factors that control sebum secretion are age, environmental factors, the endocrine system and the nervous system. Dilated pores are also influenced by diet; a predominantly acidic one aggravates the situation.
Clogged pores appear most frequently on the nose, forehead and chin, where they become the most persistent. Dilated pores and blackheads are a common feature for oily and mixed skin. Whiteheads can also occur on dry skin.
The medical term for clogged pores is comedones. A comedone is a sebaceous follicle full of sebum, dead cells, small hairs and bacteria. When a comedone is open it is called a blackhead, and a closed one is called a whitehead. The open comedone (blackhead) is not black because of dirt, but due to the oxidative reaction when it comes in contact with air. Pimples (acne) are inflamed or superinfected comedones. More about acne here
The use of cosmetics containing keratolytic ingredients and the regular application of exfoliating solutions with AHA and BHA acids improve the appearance and condition of skin with open pores and affected by blackheads. Excess sebum can be absorbed by regular application of simple clay masks (green or white for sensitive skin) and by including absorbent ingredients such as rice powder or corn starch in cosmetic compositions.
Astringents in cosmetics have a temporary effect of shrinking pores. Along with proper hygiene and the application of appropriate cosmetics, one possibility to consider is covering dilated pores with preparations containing rice powder or vegetable silicon (bamboo powder).
Aggressive elimination of blackheads/whiteheads should be avoided, otherwise sebum secretion may be stimulated or skin damage may occur. These will be gradually removed with the help of keratolytic and exfoliating preparations. Older blackheads that do not react to exfoliants and cleansers at home, can be treated at a specialized office by a skilled beautician.