While they sometimes require clinical intervention, clogged pores can generally be prevented or reduced through everyday skin care, proper hygiene and other basic lifestyle choices. Failure to prevent clogged pores can not only cause cosmetic issues that can detract from one’s appearance and quality of life, they can also lead to serious long-term dermatological issues. Clogged pores are a leading contributor to acne, a condition that, according to data from the American Academy of Dermatology, affects up to 50 million Americans every year.
Clogged pores are caused by dead skin cells that embed themselves in the pores instead of being shed like they’re supposed to. Debris, oils, dirt and dead skin cells inflame the pores which can lead to acne and other kinds of skin rash and irritation. They look like clogged and darkened pockets of skin and are often called “blackheads” and “whiteheads,” which are leading drivers of acne and other types of skin irritation.
While they tend to be most noticeable on the face, clogged pores can occur all over the body, including the, arms, legs, chest and breasts.
Factors that Can Lead to Clogged Pores
You can prevent clogged pores on the nose, cheeks, chin and the rest of the face through simple everyday interventions, starting with you what you eat. Staying away from a diet that causes clogged pores, including fried foods, dairy, refined sugar and saturated and trans fats can reduce oils in the skin, which can help prevent their onset. Other types of oils that can clog your skin can include coconut oil (specifically for those with already oily skin), olive oil and others. Although it can actually help acne when used in moderation, the excessive use of vitamin E can also lead to clogged pores, particularly in those who already have oily skin.
Preventing Clogged Pores on the Face
Clogged pores most commonly affect areas of the face, including the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. These areas are most vulnerable due to their constant exposure to the elements and their potential to accumulate dirt, debris and oils.
You can prevent clogged pores on the nose and all other areas of the face by trying the following methods:
- Over-the-counter Treatments – Pore strips, creams and other over-the-counter remedies can unclog pores quickly and safely. Pore strips have been a relied-upon pore-cleansing resource for decades. They’re made with special bonding agents that act as magnets for bacteria, sweat, oil, dead skin and all other unwanted substances embedded in the pores. They are reasonably priced and come in different sizes to accommodate different facial shapes and structures.
- Use the Right Moisturizer – Moisturizing lotions are often rich in oils and can exacerbate clogged pores and cause blackheads and pimples. Using lotions that are non greasy and hypoallergenic will prevent clogged pores while effectively moisturizing your face. The best products for clogged pores will be labeled “won’t clog pores” or “non-comedogenic.” Avoiding products with occlusives (agents that are meant to diminish or prevent moisture loss) can help pores breathe and prevent clogging. Interra’s Calming Vanilla Therapeutic Body Lotion can help prevent dry skin while keeping your pores clean and unclogged.
- Exfoliation – Exfoliation is meant to clean the skin of the dirt, debris and other substances that commonly lead to clogged pores. Exfoliation techniques include brushes, facial scrubs, washcloths and more. Chemical options contain alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid), beta hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid), retinols, or topical enzymes to clean the pores. Work with a dermatologist to explore what type of exfoliation works for your regular skin care regimen.
- Proper Shaving Techniques – To prevent clogged pores after shaving, apply warm water to the area being shaved before and after the process. You should also use a shaving cream formulated for sensitive skin and use single-blade razors. Be sure to shave in the same direction as your hair grows and apply benzoyl peroxide.
- Proper Makeup Removal – To prevent makeup from clogging your pores, thoroughly remove all makeup each night and wash face with soap, water and a facial wash each night.
- Charcoal Mask – Charcoal masks work by applying the mask to the face for 5-10 minutes and either pulling it off or rinsing and washing the face when finished. The process is believed by many to remove dirt, pollution and toxins from the skin.
- Steam – Steam has been used for years to help cleanse and revitalize the skin. It is best applied by a skincare specialist who will use a skin steamer to open up pores and naturally extract all of the dirt and toxins that have built up over time. While the process is available in a clinical setting, there are also at-home skin steamers available for purchase.
- Parsley Soak – More and more people are taking fresh parsley off their plates and putting it on their faces. The process involves boiling parsley in water then dipping a washcloth in the cooled liquid and leaving it on your face for 10-15 minutes. Performing this ritual every other day is said to remove dirt and other skin toxins.
Other commonly touted at-home clogged pore remedies include lemons and baking soda scrubs; however, both of these processes have been denounced by the clinical community because they can actually strip away a protective layer of skin and leave the face even more vulnerable and uncomfortable. Avoid frequent touching of face.
Preventing Clogged Pores on the Body
Clogged pores can also affect different areas of the body. These can manifest as pimples, and can also be avoided by following basic everyday skin care. To prevent clogged pores on the arms, legs, back, chest, breast and other areas of the body, keep the area dry and clean, avoid excessive exposure to hot water, and exfoliate once or twice a week with a loofah or sponge and an exfoliating cleanser. It also helps to use an oil-free moisturizer after exfoliation. Clogged pores on the arms, legs and back can especially be avoided by showering directly after a workout or strenuous physical activity.
Other methods to try can include:
- Use a scrub prior to showering
- Use a body wash with salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid
- Topical treatments
- Avoid scratching and picking
There are times, however, when it may become necessary to seek dermatological intervention to prevent or eliminate clogged pores and related conditions.
When to See a Dermatologist about Your Clogged Pores
When natural or over-the-counter remedies no longer work, it may become necessary to see a dermatologist that can provide prescription remedies and other resources like extractions. Extractions involve the manual application of pressure to break the buildup to release the dirt and toxins that cause clogged pores. After the extraction, the specialist applies an antibacterial or antiseptic to bring the skin back to its natural pH and prevent breakouts. The specialist may also apply soothing masks or other treatments. Do not attempt to pop a blackhead on your own, as it may lead to the further contamination and clogging of your pores.