A comedo is an obstructed hair follicle on the skin. The word comedo originated from the Latin word ‘comedere’ which means ‘to eat up’. Substances in the skin like skin debris mix with the sebum in the skin to clog the follicle. Comedones are tiny pink coloured acne papule-like structures. They are largely found on areas of the body with most sebaceous glands like face- especially on the forehead and chin, neck, upper part of the chest and back. Comedonal acne are generally non-inflammatory. These can occur with or without acne.
Types of comedones
- Blackheads : A blackhead is an open comedo. They are filled with excess oil and dead skin cells
- Whiteheads : Whiteheads are closed comedones and they occur when sebum and dead skin cells prevent a clogged hair follicle from opening up
- Macro comedones : They are close comedones, measuring more than 2 to 3 mm in size
- Micro comedones : These are very tiny comedones, usually not visible to the naked eye
- Giant comedones : They are similar to a large, cyst-like lesion
- Solar comedones : Solar comedones result due to sun damage and are mostly seen in older adults
Causes of Comedonal acne
- Comedonal acne are commonly seen in adolescnets as sebum production from the sebaceous gland is at its peak during puberty with a shift in hormone levels and metabolism
- Acne are also usually seen is women attaining menses and women with hormonal imbalances like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS); increased levels of male sex hormone – androgen
- Smoking is a causative factor of comedonal acnes
- Increased humidity and polluted air can cause comedonal acnes
- Excessive washing, scrubbing, frequent touching and picking these comedones can aggravate the already existing ones
- Diet also influences the occurrence of these acnes. Consumption of large amounts of dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, cottage cheese can lead to development of comedonal acne as these products increase mucous production in the body which acts as a trigger for clogging the pores. Also, a diet that is high in fat and refined sugars is a cause for comedonal acnes
- Some skin treatments like chemical and synthetic peels, laser therapy can cause comedonal acnes
- Some of these comedonal acne appearances can be attributed to the genetic make-up of the person. Some people may inherently be more prone to them than others
- Cosmetic products like a greasy moisturizer, other make-up and skin care products can cause the pores to clog and increase the occurrence of comedonal acnes
Treatment for comedonal acnes
The best way to deal with comedonal acnes in order to prevent and treat is to reduce sebum production from the over active sebaceous glands.
- Choosing the right sun screen for the skin and applying it routinely as a part of daily skin care is an effective way to prevent skin damage
- Topical ointments that reduce sebum production, largely containing substances like salicylic acid, glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide help in treating comedones
- There are some medications like antibiotics and isotretinoin also available for treatment of comedonal acnes which are being used these days
Natural remedies for comedonal acnes
- Diet and lifestyle : One of the ways to treat acnes naturally is by restricting dairy products, refined carbohydrates, sugar laden foods and processed foods as these foods are pro-inflammatory in nature. Switching to a plant-based, vegan diet that includes consumption of raw foods like fruits and vegetables, consuming foods with Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and antioxidants; maintaining good hydration and regular exercise play a key role to combat acnes. Exercise causes reduction in stress levels and improves blood circulation in the body. It also causes some sweating, that helps to eliminate toxins and clogged pores on the skin.
- Tea Tree oil : Essential oils like tea tree oil is been increasingly popular as an alternative for treatment of acne. Research shows that 5% tea tree oil solution helps in reducing the amount and overall severity of acne. The antiseptic and antibacterial properties of tea tree oil can reduce oiliness on the skin which can lead to reduction in acne breakouts. The antimicrobial function of the oil is due to its capacity to damage the cell wall structure of bacteria. Few drops of tea tree oil can combined with a carrier oil like almond oil or olive oil
- Argan oil : Adding more oil is probably not what people would resort to, while battling oily and acne-prone skin. But argan oil has been known to have anti-sebum effects, which can help in regulating sebum production and release on the skin. Not only does Vitamin E in argan oil act as a major anti-inflammatory agent for reactive skin, but it also helps in controlling the skin’s oil production by balancing the sebum levels. This is useful in treating several different types of acne and promotes smoother complexion with fewer breakouts
- Jojoba oil : Jojoba oil is the oil extracted from the seeds of the jojoba shrub. Jojoba oil contains a wax-like substance that is known to repair damaged skin, reduce skin inflammation, pimples and whiteheads
- Aloe vera : Aloe vera is a plant that is most commonly used in the treatment of many skin diseases, especially acne because of its inherent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Clay masks : Clay masks containing charcoal have gained a lot of popularity in recent times. They work by reducing sebum that is blocked in the pores and help in cleansing of dead skin cells, thus removing the blackheads and treating the acnes
- Steam : This is a traditional method which can work to reduce the clogged pores. Facial steam helps in opening up the blocked pores and reducing sebum production which causes comedonal acnes
- Skincare : Maintaining and following good skin hygiene like washing the face with a suitable cleanser couple of times in a day, removing make-up and any product at the end of the day are some simple practices that can help in reducing and preventing acnes. Using non-comedogenic labelled skin care products can minimize occurrence of comedonal acnes. Avoiding touching, squeezing and popping acnes can prevent them to aggravate
- Others : Using acidic agents like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice have the ability to absorb the excess oil and dry the skin. They remove the oiliness and blocked pores associated with comedonal acne. Honey is another natural ingredient, which, because of its sticky property seeps in and mends the pores. It acts as a good anti-bacterial agent and helps in drying out the acne. Witch Hazel which has excellent astringent properties, is an ingredient of many skincare products like skin cleansers and skin toners. It causes the pore size to reduce, thereby reducing comedonal acnes
- Stress : Increased stress levels in the body trigger the release of some hormones like androgen in the body, that stimulate hair follicles and sebaceous glands. This increases sebum production and thereby more acne and breakouts
Comedonal acnes are stubborn and may require a long term treatment to attain the desired results. There are multiple natural ways to treat these acnes and they should be continued to prevent frequent occurrence of acnes. Most of the home remedies are safe to use and serve as a good alternative for conventional, medical methods for treating acne. However, sometimes, the natural remedies may not work for some people and may require medical intervention by an expert to treat them.