The skin perfect is a blessing that only a few lucky souls enjoy. Most of us have fought clogged pores at some point in our lives. Because our skin is exposed daily to dust and dirt, clogged pores are an inevitable result. Although keeping the skin fresh and clean is crucial, sometimes it is not enough to wash it to completely unclog pores. For most people, constant care – including a deep cleaning routine – is the most effective way to open pores and prevent acne.
What is a Clogged Pore?
Apart from the palms of our hands and soles of our feet, the surface of our skin has hundreds of fine pores that are invisible to the eye. Each pore connects to the sebaceous glands, through a tubular duct known as a follicle. The follicle also houses a fine hair that grows out of the pore. The sebaceous glands produce an oily or waxy substance called sebum, whose function is to form a thin invisible layer on the skin and keep it lubricated. Sebum also carries dead skin cells, called keratinocytes, to the surface of the skin. Keratinocytes line the hair follicles and live only for a while before they die. Dead skin cells are naturally eliminated by the skin and new cells appear. These skin characteristics are collectively called pilosebaceous units and are found in large quantities on our face, chest and upper back.
Sometimes, the sebaceous glands produce excess sebum, which blocks the pore. Dead skin cells inside the pore agglutinate, along with sebum and hair, and get trapped under the surface. And there we have it, a clogged pore. A white point is formed when keratinocytes are not exposed to oxygen and remain trapped in the pore, while a black point is formed when keratinocytes are exposed to oxygen and oxidize. More problems come in the form of the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) that settle on the surface of the skin and infiltrate the pore. The humid and warm environment of clogged pores is a happy hunting ground for bacteria, which thrive in fatty sebum. Inflammatory acne is a result of bacteria such as P. acnes that get trapped in a clogged pore.
How to Clean those Pores?
There are countless remedies available to help you clean the pores, from conventional allopathic treatments to alternative and complementary methods that use herbs and other natural ingredients.
Natural Remedies to Clean Clogged Pores:
Before resorting to conventional treatments, which often rely on strong chemicals to fight clogged pores, try some of these softer home remedies first.
1. Facial Steam with Herbs and Essential Oils:
“Steam is perhaps one of the best ways to open clogged pores, remove dirt and clean the skin thoroughly”.
Adding some calming herbs to the steam improves the treatment. Take a handful of chamomile flowers washed and cut into small pieces and melissa leaves. Pour almost boiling water into a large bowl and spread the herbs over it. Let the herbs infuse for a few minutes. Then, cover your head with a towel and lean over the bowl to vaporize your face. Continue steaming for about 15 minutes, then dry your face with a damp towel and pat dry. It is best to start with a clean face and continue with a moisturizer. Other herbs that work equally well are lavender flowers, rosemary sprigs, yarrow flowers and sage leaves. Essential oils also have purifying effects on the body and can be added to steam. Bergamot, juniper, lavender, rosemary and sage are some safe options.
2. Hot and Cold Compression:
Clogged pores and pimples can sometimes be removed using a hot and cold compress. You can use a cotton ball, cotton pad or any clean cotton cloth to make a warm compress. Ice wrapped in a clean cloth makes an effective cold compress. A compress should be used several times a day for effective results. The steam from the hot compress opens the pores and loosen any clogged material inside. You can then wash the detached particles with warm water and a gentle facial cleanser. The cold compress helps reduce inflammation. Reducing the size of a pimple also reduces its shelf life.
3. Tomato Juice:
Tomato juice contains lactic acid, which is an effective scrub and can prevent clogging of pores. You can simply have some tomato juice in clogged pores using a cotton swab. Wash after about 5 minutes. Another remedy is to filter the tomato puree through a sieve. Mix some ground oats to the pulp and apply on clogged pores. Let stand about 20 minutes and wash. Honey and tomato curd work equally well.
4. Lemon Juice and Sugar:
Citrus fruit juices, such as those from a lemon, function as a natural scrub and remove dead skin cells that can clog pores. Here is an easy recipe: To 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice, add 2 tablespoons of sugar and one or two drops of vegetable oil. Rub the mixture on dry skin. Sugar will help eliminate waste and the oil will hydrate. Wipe with a warm damp towel to finish.
5. Clay Masks:
Clay-based masks are very effective against clogged pores and acne. These masks dry out and help absorb the oils. The clay cleanses and exfoliates the skin, opens clogged pores and removes dead skin cells. Be careful not to leave clay masks on your face for too long since they can cause redness and inflammation. Prepare a rose clay mask with 1 tablespoon of rose clay, 1 drop of each of rose oil and Roman chamomile oil, and 2 teaspoons of avocado oil. Add a few drops of water to make a smooth paste and apply on a clean face. Let dry and then wash it, first with warm water and then with cold water.
6. Fuller’s Land:
Another simple substance to unclog pores is Fuller’s earth, clay that turns into a paste with water and is applied to inflamed skin. The cold paste unblocks the pores, cleanses the skin and helps fade the marks left by the pimples.
7. Turmeric and Sandalwood:
The can help remove any excess grease and dirt on your skin and effectively prevent bacteria buildup that can lead to acne. Sandalwood has a calming effect on the skin. Mix half a teaspoon of turmeric and sandalwood powder. Add a little water to make a paste and apply on the affected skin. Wash when the pasta is dry.
8. Neem Mask:
Neem has multiple benefits and is used for skin problems ranging from ringworms and infections to wounds and scabies. It can soothe inflamed skin and reduce the sensation of itching and burning. Make a paste of neem leaves and add a little turmeric to help remove excess fat. You can also boil the neem leaves with the bath water. This will help cleanse the entire body and prevent dirt accumulation.
Conventional Treatment to Clean Clogged Pores:
If you choose conventional treatment methods to remove clogged pores and acne, the recommended medication will depend on the severity of the acne.
Treatment for Mild to Moderate Acne:
A mild outbreak of acne can be controlled with two commonly used preparations – salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. While salicylic acid cleans the clogged pore and allows the grain to shrink, benzoyl peroxide helps kill bacteria in the skin, oil channels and heals the skin.
Moderate to Severe Acne Treatment:
Retinoid, a derivative of vitamin A, effectively opens pores and helps prevent new outbreaks. Sometimes, antibiotics along with the retinoid are recommended so that they can stop bacterial growth in the follicles once the retinoid unblocks the pores.
Treatment for Severe Acne:
Isotretinoin, also a derivative of vitamin A, works by reducing the size of the sebaceous glands. With less oil produced, bacteria also decrease in number. Effectively removes acne and helps prevent scars.