Clogged Pores in Skin
There are pores all over the body, but aesthetically are mostly a concern on the face. Excess oil in the sweat gland can become clogged, making the pore visible. While not usually a health issue, it is an aesthetic issue as irregularities of the skin are considered unattractive. There are four aesthetic concerns with pores: enlarged pores, whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. These issues in extreme are called "acne."
Pores are really the opening to the sweat glands or the hair follicles. The pore is medically known as the porus sudoriferous (or sudoriferus). Sweat glands are medically known as the exocrine glands. The sweat glands go down through the epidermis and corium layers of the skin. When the person is hot or under stress (or even for hormonal reasons) the cells in the gland contract, and that squeezes out excess liquid. The sweat glands are open to the air, and that opening is called the "pore."
There are literally millions of sweat glands all over the body of humans. 100 milliliters of sweat are produced on a cool day. Sweat is mostly water, with a few minerals and pheromones thrown in. Its purpose is to cool the body, but also to transport out such things as salt and iron. Certain toxins may be dispelled through sweat.
Hair follicles are attached to an oil gland. This oil is supposed to lightly coat the surface of the skin to protect it. Too much oil can be produced, and it can clog the pores.
Pores tend to enlarge around puberty when hormones create more oil production. Some people naturally have larger pores than others, so heredity might be the biggest obstacle to smooth skin.
Preventing Pore Problems
Keeping the face very clean is the first step to preventing and curing problems with the pores. Use a non-drying, non-oily soap. An exfoliant might be useful. Keep the hair clean because if it is greasy, it will fall onto the skin and exacerbate the problem.
A good weekly treatment includes steaming the face to open pores, cleanse gently, then use a toner (astringent) to constrict the pores. There are also masques (masks) that accomplish the same thing. Masks do not need to be expensive over-the-counter products; they can be home-made. There are also commercial waxes that are spread on the skin warm and when they dry, they pull the contents of the pore out with them. This treatment should be preceded by cleaning and followed by a gentle astringent and a light moisturizer if needed.
Making It Worse
Using a powerful astringent might make the skin dry, which will lead the skin to produce more oil. The increased oil production might make more pores clog. The dry skin might look dry and flaky. In this case, using a moisturizer that is oily or is heavy and clogs the pores might make the problem worse.
Use a mild astringent. If the astringent is too powerful, dilute it with water. Use a light moisturizer. Some find relief in moisturizers containing tea tree oil.
Squeezing the blackheads, whiteheads or pimples can inflame the area or even compact the clog. It's best to use other methods to clear them.
If You Can't Fix It, Hide It
Covering up the pores with foundation might make them worse. But there are occasions when perfection is required, and the pores need to be hidden, so for those occasions, use a foundation that has powder suspended in a liquid to minimize the penetration of the substance into the pores. Be sure to wash off the foundation and wash your face thoroughly before going to bed.
Extreme cases might prompt a doctor to prescribe steroids or hormones to reduce the production of oil.
If the pores become a psychological barrier, then more drastic treatments are available, including laser treatment, chemical peeling and microdermabrasion. These treatments, however, do come with risks, and should only be used in extreme cases.
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