What are closed comedones and what causes them?

Closed comedones are commonly known as whiteheads and they are also mild acne lesions that occur due to a buildup of oil and dead skin. Here at Mederm Esthetics & Laser Clinic, we treat closed comedones on a daily basis. They are small bumps that are known to develop in parts of the skin where pores are big and highly focused such as the face, neck and shoulders. People of all ages and skin types can get closed comedones. Things such as hormones, diet, and specific medications can cause closed comedones.

How to prevent closed comedones

You can easily prevent closed comedones by not smoking, not picking a pimple, not applying too much moisturizer, having a diet that is missing linoleate, avoiding excessive washing of the face, avoiding a diet that is high in dairy, not staying in environments that are too humid for a long time, use oil-free makeup, wash your face and neck once in the morning and once at night,

There are some exceptions to getting closed comedones that you can’t avoid, for example having a high level of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), hormone fluctuations before you are menstruating, and the development of proteins called cytokines that are found inside the cells of pores.

Over the counter (OTC) topical treatments for closed comedones:

Some topical treatments that skin care experts may recommend you use to treat closed comedones are retinoids, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid.


Retinoids are a type of topical treatment that have a prescription strength ingredients such as tretinoin, isotretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene. These ingredients are known to be found in topical creams and gels. Retinoids are effective because they not only treat existing breakouts, but they also prevent future breakouts from surfacing. Retinoids are known to stabilize the skin’s innate exfoliation level and boost the skin’s development of collagen.

Glycolic acid

Glycolic acid is one category of an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). It works to exfoliate the skin and doesn’t permit dead skin cells to attach to each other. This AHA can be found in cleansers, toners, masks and peels.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is a very popular treatment for acne that is mild, and it minimizes bacteria that is on the surface of the skin and also decreases skin inflammation. This type of treatment is available in gels, creams, lotions and also face washes.

Azelaic Acid

This innate forming acid is a kind of yeast that is found on the skin. It minimizes the production of bacteria that is found in hair follicles and also like benzoyl peroxide it minimizes inflammation.

Salicylic Acid

This type of treatment functions by breaking down keratin. It is commonly prescribed by dermatologists as it prevents hair follicles from clogging. It is common for salicylic acids to be available over the counter (OTC). Salicylic acid is available in distinct products such as in lotions, gels, and even shampoos.

Other treatments

When a closed comedone is noticeable on the skin, make sure to not touch it and let a skin care expert or medical esthetician handle it through extraction. This treatment involves a tiny land set that is inserted into the affected area, while the skin care expert carefully squeezes it out with their fingers. In addition, the area will be disinfected with alcohol and then treated with a high frequency probe on the skin to destroy bacteria and close the pore. Despite what you may hear, chemical peels and microdermabrasion will not help remove comedones at all.

What to take away from closed comedones

Closed comedones are a mild type of acne that develop when sebum and dead skin cells build up and clog pores. There are many outside elements that can lead to them forming such as a hormonal imbalance, smoking and your diet. OTC topical treatments are usually successful in treating closed comedones but when you have severe acne you may have to be cared for with a different treatment option. Come visit us at Mederm Esthetics & Laser Clinic in Concord so we can help reduce your breakouts and have you walking around confidently with clearer skin. We make beautiful skin happen.


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