How to Treat Closed Comedones, the Acne You Didn’t Know You Had

If an inflamed, angry-red pimple is the skin-care equivalent of a scream, a closed comedone is a threatening whisper. Seemingly headless and unpoppable, closed comedones are white or skin-colored bumps that gradually build beneath the surface of the skin until they’re large enough to be visible in profile.

Closed comedones are commonly called whiteheads which contrary to popular belief aren’t actually those white, pus-filled pimples you’re so often tempted to pop. In fact actual whiteheads aren’t even really poppable. However, if you attempt to pop them or they get irritated by bacteria, they can develop into poppable pimples.

Here’s how to know if your bumps are actually closed comedones—and how to manage them properly.

Surprise! Whiteheads don’t actually have juicy, poppable heads.

Like most types of acne, closed comedones form when some combination of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria build up and plug a hair follicle. They’re covered by a layer of skin cells, which gives them a slightly white or fleshy color. That’s why they’re colloquially called whiteheads even though they don’t have a head that can be popped, Clarissa Yang, M.D., chief of dermatology at Tufts Medical Center, tells SELF. If your pimple does have a head that’s just staring you down, daring you to pop it, it’s technically a papule or pustule.

Closed comedones are also not to be confused with open comedones, which develop when the stuff inside is exposed to air and oxidizes, which turns it black. That’s why open comedones are also referred to as blackheads, Samantha Conrad, M.D., dermatologist at Northwestern Medicine, tells SELF.

Closed comedones can form as a result of using skin-care or beauty products that are occlusive (meaning they essentially seal off the top layer of skin) or irritating. Closed comedones can appear anywhere on the face if they’re the result of, say, an occlusive moisturizer. But if they’re concentrated around your hairline or forehead, Dr. Yang explains, it’s more likely that an irritating or oil-based hair product is the culprit. Good to know!

So why are some people more prone to closed comedones than others? In addition to the products they’re using, some people experience an excessive “stickiness” in their skin cells, which may be due to changing hormone levels, Dr. Yang says. As your progesterone and testosterone levels change throughout the month your sebaceous glands produce more or less sebum (oil), which makes it more likely for your hair follicles to get plugged up.

If you notice closed comedones primarily along your chin and jawline, this could indicate that they’re hormonally driven, she says. That’s because, as SELF has previously reported, hormonal changes can cause the oil glands in this area of the face to work overtime, leading to—you guessed it—hormonal acne in the form of closed comedones. (For the record hormonal acne can also appear as cystic acne, papules, pustules, or really any type of pimple.)

Unfortunately closed comedones can become more serious.

Occasionally closed comedones go away on their own without much treatment. But generally they don’t, Dr. Yang says. And even if they do, Dr. Conrad says it can take weeks or months. If they don’t go away they can progress in the other direction, becoming red, painful, and more challenging to treat.

— Update: 06-01-2023 — found an additional article Comedonal Acne Is the Most Mild Form of Acne—Here's How to Treat It from the website for the keyword is comedonal acne hormonal.

If you have comedonal acne, there’s no need to stress (because spoiler: stress can actually just make matters worse). According to board-certified dermatologist Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, comedonal acne is the mildest form of acne, with cystic acne being at the other end of the spectrum. In other words, as long as you approach your breakouts the right way, you should be able to clear them up—but that might be a little easier said than done. Acne isn’t one-size-fits-all, and not all treatments work for all types of acne. Still following? To help break down this specific type of breakout, we turned to the experts. Mudgil, as well as board-certified dermatologists Rayna Dyck, MD, and Jessie Cheung, MD, lend their expert advice for identifying this type of acne so that you can correctly treat it and prevent it.

Ahead, everything you need to know about comedonal acne treatment, according to the skin experts.

What Is Comedonal Acne?

According to Dyck, comedones occur when cells lining the ducts of the sebaceous gland (or oil gland) overgrow and lead to increased oil production and debris, which blocks the opening to the surface of the skin.

So what does this type of breakout look like? Simply put, Mudgil says comedonal acne falls into two categories: open comedones (blackheads) and closed comedones (whiteheads). As Cheung explains it, blackheads get their name because the sebum in the open follicle turns black when exposed to air. When the follicle is completely closed on the other hand, you're left with a whitehead. Dyck adds that with inflammatory acne, you tend to see more red, inflamed bumps, pustules, nodules, and cysts, but comedonal acne is typically non-inflamed.

Dyck says comedonal acne can pop up in areas of the skin with the greatest number of sebaceous follicles, which is most commonly the face, but also the chest and the back. As far as where it occurs specifically on the face, Cheung notes that comedones are commonly found in the T-zone (like your forehead and chin), which is rich in oil glands. This type is often seen during early puberty with hormone fluctuations, but Cheung notes that it can affect anyone.

Causes and Prevention of Comedonal Acne

Anna Efetova / Getty Images

Mudgil says that generally, comedones are caused by the pores being clogged with dead skin cells and sebum, but Dyck points out that our daily habits can be risk factors for developing comedonal acne as well.

  • Hormones: As Cheung explains it, “Comedones form as hormones trigger sebum production, and the dead skin lining the follicle fails to shed.” Mudgil adds this type of acne is pretty common among teenagers because of the hormonal-mediated excess sebum production, particularly during puberty.
  • Oily products: Other causes, Dyck adds, are more external, such as oily, pore-blocking products, like makeup, moisturizers, and sunscreens. “Comedonal acne can be prevented by keeping the face clean (but not cleansing too abrasively) and sticking with products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic,” Dyck notes.
  • Haircare products: Yes, Dyck says even your hair products could be the source of your whiteheads and blackheads. “Keep the hairline free of heavy oils, gels, and pomades, as this could lead to comedonal breakouts in these areas,” Dyck suggests. It's also a good idea to wash your pillowcases frequently and avoid touching your face.
  • Hygiene: Mudgil adds that poor hygiene can also allow dead skin cells to clog pores, which is why it's important to wash your face twice daily. To help prevent body comedones, Dyck recommends removing sweaty clothing and cleansing the skin as soon as possible.
  • Trauma: Cheung explains that comedonal acne can be the result of using harsh abrasives that traumatize the skin and rupture the follicle. Dyck adds that trauma can also be caused by vigorous washing, chemical peels, and popping pimples.
  • Smoking: All three dermatologists highlight the fact that comedonal acne is more common in those who smoke. Cheung explains that smokers and sun-worshippers are more prone to comedones due to the damage to their dermal elastic tissue. 
  • Diet: The experts agree that those with a high-glycemic diet are also more prone to comedonal acne. As Cheung explains it, diets high in processed, sugary foods will cause acne flaring because of hormone surges. The fix? Replace foods, such as white bread, potatoes, and white rice with low-glycemic options, like veggies, quinoa, and brown rice.
  • Stress: Cheung points out that stress can also cause hormone surges. Although managing your body’s stress may be difficult at times, Cheung recommends exercise to increase endorphins and help with deep sleep.

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Good news: there are many good options (both OTC and prescription) to treat comedonal acne. Dyck explains that most are considered comedolytics or keratolytics, since they not only soften and help clear existing comedones but also prevent changes in the pilosebaceous unit that can lead to new ones forming.

Incorporate retinoids into your routine

According to Cheung, topical retinoids will speed up cell turnover and help prevent comedone formation while treating existing comedones. In other words, retinoids aren't only good for spot treating—they should be applied to all acne-prone areas.

Dyck agrees that the most effective therapies for comedonal acne are retinoids and retinols. “These are vitamin A-derived products that can reduce inflammation, reduce keratin proliferation in the follicle, and reduce scarring,” she explains. “Retinoids contain a higher concentration of retinoic acid, which is the active form of the molecule.” Differin (or Adapalene) is the only retinoid available over the counter, but retinol, which has a lower potency, is widely available. “All of these options can cause some irritation and dryness, so milder forms are typically used, initially,” Dyck says. “Keeping the skin hydrated with a non-comedogenic moisturizer is also very important for increased tolerability.”

Apply a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment.

According to Cheung, this ingredient can help suppress acne-causing bacteria from causing more inflammation. Aside from bleaching your towels, benzoyl peroxide is known for potentially causing dry, irritated skin, so we recommend trying this non-drying lotion. Once you use this oil-free and fragrance-free formula on your blackheads and whiteheads, you’ll see why it’s one of Byrdie’s favorite benzoyl peroxide acne treatments.

Try tea tree oil.

Cheung recommends tea tree oil for the same reason as benzoyl peroxide: it kills bacteria. Not only that, but tea tree oil also calms inflammation. If you’re using a formula that’s 100% tea tree oil, like the Byrdie-favorite shown here, dilute it first with a carrier oil and apply it to the area as needed.

Cleanse with an AHA/BHA wash.

“Cleansers containing salicylic acid or glycolic acid can help exfoliate dead skin and loosen debris in clogged pores,” Mudgil says. Cheung adds that gentle chemical exfoliation is key to treating comedonal acne and recommends washes and topicals with AHAs and BHAs. We’re big fans of this face wash, which contains salicylic acid (BHA) and AHAs, like glycolic and lactic acids, meant to gently and chemically exfoliate without the need for any harsh scrubs.

Use a product with azelaic acid.

Dyck also recommends trying azelaic acid as a wash or a leave-on product to treat comedonal acne. With its ability to soothe, exfoliate, even skin, and fight acne, consider azelaic acid the ultimate multitasking ingredient. We recommend picking up a bottle of this leave-on formula, a cult-favorite that contains 10% azelaic acid.

Ask your doctor about oral medication.

TEK IMAGE/Getty Images

For more resistant forms of comedonal acne, Dyck says oral medications might be necessary. “Antibiotics can be used to reduce bacteria and inflammation, but tend to be more effective in inflammatory acne,” Dyck explains. For those who are experiencing more hormonally triggered breakouts, Dyck says oral contraceptives and spironolactone can be helpful. And if you are someone who has severe acne, acne that is not responding to therapy, and/or acne leading to scarring, Dyck adds that Isotretinoin (aka Accutane), a vitamin A-derived oral medication, can give significant skin clearance.

Seek professional help.

 StockPlanets/Getty Images

According to Dyck, a good baseline skincare regimen is key, but other cosmetic procedures, such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion, can help. In addition to all the above treatments, Mudgil adds that manual extraction by an experienced provider can also help speed things along.

If you’ve tried over-the-counter medications for several weeks without improvement, Dyck stresses the importance of seeing a dermatologist to assess your situation. “If you are experiencing scarring or significant hyperpigmentation (which can become severe in dark skin tones), you should see a dermatologist sooner rather than later,” Dyck says. “Delaying proper diagnosis and treatment can have lasting effects.”

— Update: 06-01-2023 — found an additional article What On Earth Is Comedonal Acne And How Do You Treat It? from the website for the keyword is comedonal acne hormonal.

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.

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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.

— Update: 06-01-2023 — found an additional article What Is Comedonal Acne? We Asked Derms How to Treat This Common Skin Condition from the website for the keyword is comedonal acne hormonal.

Skin issues aren’t fun for anyone. And for many, the quest for a clear, radiant complexion is a lifelong journey. One of the best ways to improve the condition and texture of your skin’s surface is to understand what type of breakouts you’re experiencing so you can better treat them. After all, hormonal acne looks different than comedonal acne. Haven’t heard of the latter? You probably have—but by a different name: whiteheads and blackheads.

We spoke with dermatologists to identify comedonal acne, its causes, and the best ways to treat it.

What is comedonal acne? 

Fun fact: Dermatologists distinguish between acne types, including papules (bumps), pustules (pus-filled bumps), and comedones. Comedones are specifically the pores that have been clogged due to sweat, dirt, dead skin cells, and bacteria, explains Papri Sarkar, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Newton, Mass. Those whiteheads and blackheads you’ve experienced along your nose or forehead are a type of comedone, and the color depends on what the pore has experienced. Basically, blackheads are “open” while whiteheads are “closed.”

“If a comedone is open to the air, the surface of it looks black due to oxidation from the surrounding air. If a comedone is white, it is enclosed in the skin, so the interior of the comedone looks white,” explains Dr. Sarkar. They can happen anywhere on the body, but the most common areas are the face, neck, ears, and back regions.

How common is comedonal acne? 

If you’ve experienced comedonal acne, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, the vast majority of people will have this breakout type at some point in their life. However, it is more prevalent in the teenage years because the puberty hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to secrete sebum, according to Emily Porter Gerson, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and the co-owner of Gerson Zatezalo Skin + Face in Washington, D.C.

However, because numerous other factors cause comedonal formation, Dr. Gerson reports she has diagnosed patients of all ages. For example, she says the excessive use of thick moisturizers, a smoking habit, living in a high humidity climate, and the consumption of high-glycemic-index foods can all cause comedonal acne.  

How can you identify comedonal acne?

As Dr. Sarkar explained, blackheads will look darker in color, and they will be slightly raised. Whiteheads are on the smaller side and will appear as the same shade of your skin. When you run your fingers over this breakout, Dr. Gerson says it will feel like a tiny, firm group of bumps. “While it is a bad idea to squeeze comedones, as that can trigger an inflammatory reaction when a closed comedone is squeezed, no material will be expressed from it,” she explains.

Most often, closed comedones (whiteheads) are typically gathered on your face or body, but open comedones (blackheads) tend to collect in areas of your skins where you have more pores and oil production, like the nose, cheeks, chin, and in between your brows, says Anna Guanche, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Bella Skin Institute in Los Angeles.

How to Treat Comedonal Acne

The first plan of action is typically using a topical treatment. Dr. Sarkar says there are many available creams, cleansers, and exfoliants that tackle and alleviate comedonal acne symptoms. Look out for these ingredients specifically:

Benzoyl peroxide: Dr. Sarkar says this is one of the most effective treatments since it penetrates deep within the skin, kills bacteria, lessens inflammation, and then works as an exfoliant. “Benzoyl peroxide can be irritating though, so start slow and work your way up in terms of frequency,” she warns.

Salicylic acid: This is a type of beta-hydroxy acid that helps treat comedones. Dr. Sarkar says it works by gently breaking the bonds that hold skin cells together so they can loosen and slough off. 

Vitamin A derivatives: These include retinoids and retinols, which work to exfoliate and speed up the cell turnover, so you get a clearer surface. “The new skin appears, and over time the old skin sloughs off. And, you can see less formation of new comedones and resolution of the old one,” she explains.

Tried all of the above? You should always speak with your dermatologist if you’re concerned about ongoing comedonal acne. They can recommend a personalized treatment plan for you. For example, Dr. Gerson says your dermatologist can work with you to take a systemic option for treating comedonal acne for severe cases. This includes hormonal therapy, such as birth control pills or Spironolactone, as well as isotretinoin, which is often referred to as Accutane. “Hormonal therapy takes months of consistent use before seeing improvement, whereas results are much more immediate and long-lasting with isotretinoin,” she notes. With either, though, it’s essential to understand the risk factors and ensure you are ready to commit to the treatment plan. 

— Update: 06-01-2023 — found an additional article Comedonal Acne: Causes, How To Treat It, & Ways To Prevent It from the website for the keyword is comedonal acne hormonal.

Comedonal acne is a mild form of acne. Comedones are blocked pores that later develop into pimples and more severe forms of acne. Blackheads and whiteheads are the most common examples of comedonal acne.

They are not as inflammatory or painful as other severe forms of acne. However, you still need to follow self-care practices and use topical or oral medications to manage them. Read on to learn more about them and ways to minimize them.

What Is Comedonal Acne?

Comedonal acne is a type of acne that appears like comedones (blocked pores that mostly occur on the nose, chin, and forehead).The pores are plugged with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. Blackheads and whiteheads are the most common types of comedonal acne. When the dirt and oil plugs are exposed to air, they oxidize and turn black, resulting in blackheads. When these plugs are set deeper into the pores and are white, you get whiteheads.

In the following section, we will look at the causes and risk factors of comedonal acne.

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Comedonal Acne: Causes And Risk Factors


Comedonal acne is caused when the sebaceous ducts are blocked with dirt, debris, and sebum. While anyone can get comedonal acne at any point in time, certain factors increase the risk:

  • Dairy (such as yogurt, milk, and cheese) consumption may cause acne (1).
  • Diet with a high glycemic index/glycemic load may aggravate acne (2). Consuming foods that contain a lot of sugar and fat (such as baked goodies, junk food, and aerated drinks) may cause breakouts.
  • Some believe overhydration may also cause acne. Your skin may get overhydrated due to humid conditions or from excessive use of moisturizers.
  • Smoking may also cause acne and breakouts (3).
  • Using excessive makeup, oily skincare products, and hair pomades may cause acne.
  • Genetics may also be a factor behind comedonal acne. If it runs in your family, you are most likely to get it.
  • Squeezing the existing comedones and excess use of abrasive skin products (such as scrub and chemical peels) may also aggravate your condition and cause comedonal acne.

Apart from blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones), there are several other types of comedones.

Types Of Comedonal Acne

1. Microcomedones

These are the smallest comedones. They are invisible to the naked eye. They are the first stage of every blackhead, inflamed acne, or pimple.

2. Macrocomedones

These can be both open and closed comedones, but they are larger.

3. Giant Comedones

Giant comedones are large blackheads, with a diameter measuring between a few millimeters to about 2 centimeters. Older adults usually get this type of comedones.

4. Solar Comedones

These are also called senile comedones and are caused by excessive sun exposure. These can be open or closed type comedones and can be large or small. These are common in older adults.

It is very easy to identify comedones once we know what they look like.

How To Identify Comedonal Acne


Here are a few tips to identify comedones:

  • They look like black or white dots on the skin. The affected area feels uneven and bumpy.
  • Blackheads will have a tip that appears dark brown or black. You will commonly see them on your nose.
  • Whiteheads look like small whitish dots on your skin.

If you have comedonal acne, there is nothing to worry about. There are plenty of treatment options to manage them. In the next section, we have discussed these in detail.

How To Treat Comedonal Acne

1. Topical Treatment

Topical treatments are readily available as OTC medicines. However, you need to know the right percentage of the ingredients that will work for your condition. Consult a doctor before trying out any topical treatment. These are available in the form of gels, creams, and face washes. The most common ingredients used for treating comedonal acne are:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide (4)
  • Azelaic Acid (5)
  • Salicylic acid (6)
  • Sulfur (7)
  • Tretinoin (or Retinoids) (8)

Stronger retinoids need to be prescribed by a doctor. This is because using the wrong percentage of retinoids may cause irritation to the skin.

2. Oral Medications


Topical medicines are good for initial acne treatment. However, depending on your needs, the doctor may also prescribe you oral medications such as:

  • Accutane or Isotretinoin (mainly used for severe acne) (9)
  • Contraceptives or birth control pills (FDA has approved only three contraceptives for acne, so ensure you do not take them without a doctor’s prescription) (9)
  • Antibiotics (for comedonal acne turning in to inflammatory acne )
  • Spironolactone (mainly formulated for hypertension; but this medicine, in low doses, may help hormonal acne as it blocks androgen) (9)

3. Surgical Procedures

If both topical and oral medications fail to deliver results, you may opt for surgical procedures. Some of these procedures include:

  • ComedoneExtraction: Comedones are removed manually by the doctor with an instrument called comedone extractor.
  • Microdermabrasion: In this process, a device with a crystal head is rubbed on your skin to remove the top layer of your skin. This helps remove the comedones.
  • Electrosurgery: This is used for treating severe comedonal acne. In this procedure, electricity is used to destroy the tissue by dehydration, coagulation, or vaporization. There are two types of electrosurgery – high-frequency electrosurgery and electrocautery.

4. Home Remedies

You may also take care of comedones at home by trying a few home remedies using simple and effective ingredients:

1. Tea Tree Oil

Five percent topical tea tree oil was found to be effective in treating mild to moderate acne (10).

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 teaspoon of any carrier oil (you may use jojoba, olive, sweet almond oils)
  1. Mix the oils.
  2. Massage the mixture on the affected area.
  3. Leave it on for at least 20-30 minutes.
  4. Wash off.
How Often

Once daily or on alternate days.

2. Witch Hazel


Witch hazel is commonly used for relieving inflammation and skin irritation(11). Though there is a lack of direct evidence, anecdotal evidence suggests that it has an astringent effect and can help minimize acne.

You Will Need
  • A tablespoon of witch hazel
  • Cotton pad
  1. Wash your face and pat it dry.
  2. Saturate the cotton pad with witch hazel.
  3. Apply it as a toner to your skin.
  4. Let it dry.
  5. Follow it up with a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
How Often

Once every day or on alternate days (do not overuse as it may dry your skin out).

3. Charcoal And Clay Mask

Activated charcoal is works as an absorbent (12). It can eliminate dirt and sebum from your skin. The clay (especially bentonite clay) can soothe the skin and heal skin lesions (13).

You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon of activated charcoal powder
  • 2 tablespoons of bentonite clay
  • Water for mixing (you may use rosewater)
  1. Mix the charcoal powder and the clay.
  2. Add water or rosewater as per the desired consistency and mix well.
  3. Spread the mixture on the affected area.
  4. Let it dry.
  5. Wash off with warm water.
  6. Follow up with a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
How Often

Not more than 2 times a week.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Though there is no direct evidence, anecdotal evidence suggests that the vinegar may work well as a toner. It also may act as an astringent and minimize skin pores, thus helping relieve acne. However, never use ACV without diluting it.

You Will Need
  • ½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of distilled water (to dilute the ACV)
  • Cotton pad
  1. Wash your face and pat it dry.
  2. Mix the ACV and distilled water.
  3. Saturate the cotton pad with the mixture and apply it to your face as a toner.
  4. Let it dry and then apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer.

In addition to these treatment options, modifying your lifestyle also helps. In the following section, we have discussed the measures you can take to prevent comedonal acne.

Ways To Prevent Comedonal Acne


1. Wash Your Face Twice A Day

Use a mild cleanser or facewashcontaining salicylic acid to wash your face two times a day.

2. Use Non-comedogenic Products

Whether it is makeup or skincare, ensure you use non-comedogenic products. This way, your skin pores won’t get clogged, and you can prevent comedonal acne.

3. Remove Makeup Before Going To Bed

Removing makeup before hitting the bed allows your skin to breathe and heal itself while you sleep.

4. Keep Your Skin Accessories Clean

Clean your makeup applicators, brushes, and beauty blenders thoroughly after every use. Dirty accessories may accumulate bacteria and cause acne.

5. Follow A Healthy Diet

Following a daily skincare routine and a healthy lifestyle can help keep your skin clear to an extent. However, you may face breakouts from time to time, and you need to treat them properly. The methods outlined in this article can help. In case you have severe acne, it always is better to consult a doctor.
Reduce the intake of fried or processed foods, baked goodies, and sugary drinks. If possible, try to limit your milk intake. Instead, consume a lot of fresh produce and lean protein.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Accutane help treat comedonal acne?

Yes, it works for severe acne. Accutane is a form of vitamin A that reduces the amount of oil released by the skin’s oil glands. However, you shouldn’t take it without consulting your doctor.

Do closed comedones heal?

They can heal with proper treatment. However, if left untreated, they may turn into a serious issue.

Is comedonal acne hormonal?

Comedonal acne is mainly caused during the pre-teen years and is regulated by hormones. However, one may even experience them at a later point of their lives. Apart from hormonal changes, another major cause of this type of acne is poor skin hygiene. Certain products (shampoos, makeup, hair pomades) may also lead to comedonal acne as these contain chemicals and oils that may block the pores.

Is comedonal acne fungal?

No, there is a difference between fungal acne and comedonal acne. Fungal acne is caused by a yeast called Malassezia that causes an infection in the hair follicles whereas comedonal acne is a non-inflammatory acne caused by blocked pores.

Is comedonal acne itchy?

Comedonal acne may involve less level of itching in comparison to other types of acne.


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About the Author: Tung Chi