Treating Clogged Pores

April 12, 2013 by Erica Roth  
Published in Beauty

A brief primer on how to treat clogged pores.

Clogged pores–the small openings in your skin–are the precursor to acne, a chronic skin condition most common in adolescents. During normal hormonal shifts associated with puberty, pregnancy, menopause and a woman’s menstrual cycle, your skin may produce more oil than usual. Oils, along with dead skin cells and bacteria, can clog your pores and create blemishes, according to the Federal Drug Administration. Consult your doctor about specific products he may suggest to help you clear your pores.


Kill Bacteria

Treat clogged pores with products containing benzoyl peroxide, a potent ingredient that kills bacteria that forms inside the pores and contributes to clogging. Benzoyl peroxide is available in a range of formats, from ointments and creams that you can use to spot-treat acne, as well as facial pads and washes that reduce inflammation and curb oil production as you cleanse your entire face. 

Wash your hands and face with soap and water to eliminate bacteria and dirt. After patting your face dry, apply the benzoyl peroxide product: swipe a treated pad across your face, cover blemishes with a thin film of cream containing the drug, or clean your face with a benzoyl peroxide facial wash. Your dermatologist will recommend specific products according to your condition as well as directions for use. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide treatments for clogged pores range in concentration from 2.5 to 10 percent, and can cause some temporary redness and irritation.

Slow Skin Shedding

Slow or even prevent the clogging of your pores through the use of salicylic acid products, including OTC creams and gels. The acid decelerates the action of skin shedding that blocks your pores, and is available in concentrations ranging from 0.5 to 2 percent.


Exfoliate your skin to help your clogged pores open up. Chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy and glycolic acid remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, which can reduce inflammation and help your pores clear. 

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests people with oily, acne-prone skin exfoliate no more than twice weekly, and to avoid this type of cleansing during an active acne breakout.


Choose cosmetic products that are labeled “oil-free,” “non-acnegenic” or “noncomedogenic.” Products of this kind are more gentle on your skin and will not clog your pores.

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