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Comedonal Acne: How to Combat it

Among acne’s various forms, comedonal acne stands out as a prevalent type. Here we explore the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment options.

Acne affects millions of people worldwide. Among its various forms, comedonal acne stands out as a prevalent type. Distinguished by the presence of comedones, or non-inflammatory lesions, this acne can be frustrating. However, with knowledge and treatment, you can manage the impact of comedonal acne on your skin. Here we explore the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment options for comedonal acne.

What is Comedonal Acne?

Comedonal acne, also known as non-inflammatory acne, is a type of acne that primarily consists of comedones. Comedones are small bumps that occur when pores become clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and other debris. Unlike inflammatory acne, comedonal acne does not typically involve redness, swelling, or pus-filled pimples.

Comedonal acne primarily presents as open and closed comedones. The symptoms may include:

  1. Open comedones (blackheads): These appear as small, dark bumps on the skin’s surface, caused by oxidised oil and dead skin cells clogging the pores.
  2. Closed comedones (whiteheads): These are small flesh-coloured or white bumps beneath the skin, resulting from clogged pores that haven’t been exposed to air.

Causes of Comedonal Acne

Several factors contribute to the development of comedonal acne:

  • Excess sebum production: Overactive sebaceous glands produce excessive oil, which can clog pores.

  • Irregular shedding of skin cells: When dead skin cells do not shed properly, they can accumulate and block pores, leading to comedones.

  • Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, especially during puberty, menstruation, or pregnancy, can increase sebum production and trigger comedonal acne.

  • Cosmetics and skincare products: Certain makeup, moisturisers, and other products can be comedogenic, meaning they tend to clog pores and promote the formation of comedones.

Tips to Prevent Comedonal Acne

Preventing comedonal acne involves adopting a consistent skincare routine and making some lifestyle changes:

  • Gentle cleansing: Cleanse your face twice daily with a mild, non-comedogenic cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells without stripping away natural oils.

  • Avoid pore-clogging products: Use non-comedogenic skincare and cosmetic products labelled “oil-free” or “non-acnegenic” to minimise the risk of pore blockage.

  • Exfoliation: Regular exfoliation with gentle scrubs or chemical exfoliants containing salicylic acid or glycolic acid can help remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.

  • Moisturise: Choose oil-free, lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturisers to hydrate your skin without exacerbating acne.

Treatment Options

If the above tips do not help, various treatment options are available:

  • Topical retinoids: Derived from vitamin A, topical retinoids, such as tretinoin and adapalene, help normalise skin cell turnover, unclog pores, and reduce comedone formation.

  • Salicylic acid: Over-the-counter products containing salicylic acid can effectively exfoliate the skin, unclog pores, and reduce the appearance of comedones.

  • Chemical peels: Performed by dermatologists, chemical peels involve applying a chemical solution to the skin, which exfoliates the outer layer and stimulates the growth of new, healthy skin. Chemical peels can improve the appearance of comedones, as well as other types of acne and skin concerns.

  • Extraction: Procedures like comedone extraction can be performed by a dermatologist or licensed esthetician. This involves manually removing comedones using a tool, which can provide immediate relief.

  • Oral medications: In more severe cases it may be necessary to start a prescription treatment to control acne. This could be antibiotics, hormonal therapies or isotretinoin.


Comedonal acne can be frustrating to deal with, but it is manageable with the right approach. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can effectively prevent and treat comedonal acne. A consistent skincare routine, including gentle cleansing, exfoliation, and moisturisation, coupled with appropriate medical intervention, can help you achieve clear, healthy skin. Consult with a dermatologist to determine the best treatment approach for your individual needs.

Remember that acne is a common condition that affects many people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s important to not let your skin define your self-worth.

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