Acne comes in many different shapes and forms, and one of those forms is known as comedonal acne. What is comedonal acne? Well, you know those small flesh-colored bumps that usually appear along your forehead and chin? That’s comedonal acne, and it comes in two variations: closed comedones and open comedones. Open comedones typically refer to blackheads, while closed comedones are whiteheads. So what is comedonal acne and how do you treat it? Here’s everything you need to know about the come-do’s and come-don’ts.
What is a comedone?
As we mentioned there are two types of comedonal acne: closed and open. Open comedones, otherwise known as blackheads because of their dark appearance, develop when the gunk inside your pores is exposed to air and oxidizes, which turns it black. Closed comedones, on the other hand, develop as a combination of excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria build up. Closed comedones are whiteheads but which don’t have a poppable head (which sucks if you’re into that sort of thing or into Dr. Pimple Popper). In fact, these whiteheads aren’t poppable at all and trying to pop one will invite more bacteria into the zit, which will make your breakout even worse. So don’t touch your face no matter how juicy that whitehead might look!
What causes comedonal acne?
Typically adults with oily skin are more prone to comedonal acne. According to Healthline, it’s also more common to appear on people who smoke. Sometimes comedonal acne is the result of genetics or hormones (like postpartum acne), or from skincare and beauty products. It can also be caused by diet, like high dairy consumption or a diet that consists of a lot of fats and sugars. High humidity, chemical peels, and over picking your face are also reasons why you might spot those bumps on your chin and forehead.
If you notice you have comedonal acne predominantly around your chin and jawline, this could be an indication that they’re a result of a potential hormonal imbalance. Pregnant women may notice this type of acne as they progress in their pregnancy as the hormones increase in the body.
How to treat comedonal acne?
To treat comedonal acne it’s best to tackle the main reason why it’s occurring in the first place: the production of excess oil. You might want to check out these OTC methods:
- Use noncomedogenic skincare and beauty products. Switching up your products doesn’t guarantee a clear complexion but they’re less likely to clog pores, which means you’re less likely to get breakouts.
- Use an exfoliant once to twice a week. Exfoliants help clear your pores from excess buildup like dead skin cells, oils, and any other yucky stuff. Make sure your exfoliant is gentle and look for products containing ingredients like salicylic acid and glycolic acid.
- Look for topical products that include azelaic acid, benzoyl-peroxide, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and/or sulfur. These ingredients are the best at zapping those zits and killing off bacteria. You might want to use products that include more than one of these ingredients to make your acne-fighting treatment more efficient.
- Consider buying an OTC retinoid. Retinol, retinal, and adapalene (Differin), are all derived from vitamin A that is thought to speed up the cell turnover process. This process helps the skin cells shed faster so your pores are less likely to become clogged and will remain nice and smooth. Remember: if you’re wearing any retinoids or anything including an acid you want to make sure you’re also wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or higher. Retinoids remove the outer layer of skin, which makes you more prone to sunburn.
After sticking with a consistent routine then you should start seeing some improvement with your skin. And be prepared for the long game. Your closed comedones aren’t going to disappear in a week or even a month. You should prepare yourself to start seeing results in at least a month or two.
However OTC methods might not effectively fight your breakout. If you aren’t seeing any changes in your complexion within a week then it’s best to book an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist. They may prescribe to you a stronger topical medication or another form of retinoid, or they might even conduct some extraction methods. You are no Dr. Pimple Popper, don’t take it upon yourself to try to pop the acne or use any sort of extraction tool on yourself. You might cause yourself pain and might even make the inflammation worse.
Comedonal acne can get worse
Unfortunately those closed comedones on your chin and forehead can get worse. They can turn into painful and sore pimples that take months to go away. Often times comedones are the first step of inflammatory acne, which can result in painful cysts and pustules. So what causes them to get to that next stage? Some level of stress. Whether it’s an increase in hormones, excess oil, and some sweat, that little bit of stress is enough to make your bumps take a turn for the worse. Forcing them to pop will do the same thing too. Over drying your skin can also be problematic. If you find your comedones are getting worse, book an appointment with your dermatologist.
Is comedonal acne hormonal?
Hormonal acne is exactly what it sounds like, acne caused by the fluctuating hormones in our body. For women, that means constantly changing levels of estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle. You should never try to pop any acne, but especially hormonal as they are more painful and can cause more damage. Always seek the advice of a dermatologist who can uncover deeper roots to hormonal acne such as a thyroid issue. But if you’re still unsure if what you see in the mirror is caused by hormones, Self laid out the five top ways to tell whether acne is caused by them or not:
— You’re getting acne and breakouts as an adult beyond your adolescent years
— Your acne comes through in the prime hormonal zone around your chin and along your jawline
— Your breakouts sync with your menstrual cycle
— You’re feeling stressed
— You have painful cysts
About Your Maskne
That breakout currently happening along your chin, jawline and anywhere else your mask touches? The new term for that is called “Maskne.” Surprise, Surprise! It’s actually just comedonal acne flaring up as a result of the sweat and irritation caused by the mask. Or possibly the stress from living through, you know, a global pandemic. The most important thing to remember is: Don’t skip wearing your mask. Instead, Cedars Sinai suggestions the following tips:
1. Don’t Wear Makeup No one is going to see the lower half of your face, anyway. (If you do wear makeup elsewhere on your face, make sure to wash it off every day and practice a healthy cleansing and moisturizing routine.)
2. Make Sure Your Mask Fits Properly
3. Use Masks Made Of Breathable Material Think: Cotton or Cotton blends that are soft like a pillowcase or t-shirt.
4. Wash Your Mask Often And With Hypoallergenic Soap The skin on your face is super sensitive. Just because that fresh smelling detergent may not break you out when you wash your pants and t-shirt, doesn’t mean it was meant to sit on your face all day. While you’re at it: Skip fabric softener and dryer sheets, too.
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