Large Pores and Acne: What's The Connection?

If you have acne, chances are you also have large pores. “A large pore is an indication of increased size of oil glands and oil production, and people with oily skin tend to have acne,” explains Joyce M. Teng, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “The size of oil glands is usually controlled by hormones, especially estrogen.”

For many people, both acne and large pores tend to be inherited, says Dr. Teng — and if acne runs in your family, you may experience more severe acne than in people without this family history.

Having large pores doesn’t automatically mean you will develop acne, says Teng, but because the two are connected, controlling one can help control the other.

Keeping Large Pores Clear

An excellent way to prevent acne is to maintain a gentle and regular skin care regimen, regardless of the size of your pores. Large pores and oily skin may present more of a challenge, but cleanliness is certainly within reach, says Teng.

Cleansing. The first step in any pore-minimizer and acne-prevention campaign is cleansing with a gentle product. Very oily skin may require twice-daily cleansing (no more than that, to avoid drying out the top layer), but many people need only cleanse once a day. Use warm, not hot, water and avoid scrubbing your face. Pat dry.

Clarifying. Teng says commonly used clarifying products to control acne contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Some products contain both pimple fighters, but it is possible to buy products that only contain one.

One of the advantages of benzoyl peroxide is that it controls both the oil and the bacteria that contribute to acne. Salicylic acid lightly exfoliates the skin’s surface, which helps unclog pores, reduces acne, and improves skin texture.

Nourishing. Dryness is a side effect of acne-control products, so Teng recommends using a daily moisturizer. People with oily skin may want to buy an oil-free formula to keep skin moist without adding more oil to the skin’s surface.

Many women, especially teens anxious about their appearance, use foundation and other makeup products to cover up acne and large pores. When choosing cosmetics, always look for the term non-comedogenic on the label, says Teng. That means the product shouldn’t clog your pores.

Can a Pore Minimizer Reduce the Size of Large Pores?

Maybe, says Teng, especially if the problem is addressed and controlled early. Your best pore minimizer options are topical retinoids that are applied to your skin. Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and are a staple of serious acne treatment. Product options are:

  • Prescription retinoids. Ask your dermatologist about adapalene, tretinoin, or tazarotene.
  • Over-the-counter retinols. These drugstore products are not as strong as prescription retinoids, but may be a good first step for controlling large pores.

While generally very safe, retinoids can cause allergic reactions, Teng says. “People who are just starting to use these products need to watch their skin reaction,” she advises. “If it turns red or very itchy in the first 72 hours, that’s a sign of allergic reaction.” And your sign to stop using them.

Pore Control: Stick With the Program

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