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How to Unclog and Minimise Large, Open Pores

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Pores tend to pose a pressing dilemma in our lives—while we can't live with them, we certainly cannot live without them. Present all over our body, except the palms and soles, there are approximately 20,000 pores just on our face (uh-huh!). They serve as a channel for the skin’s natural oils, sweat, and dead cells to be flushed out daily. And while some people are blessed with small (let's just say, discreet) pores, others are forced to flaunt large (read grossly unappealing) ones. 

"Unfortunately, pores do not have doors or windows that facilitate their opening or closing. In fact, if you attempt to close your pores, they may get further clogged, with you ending up with whiteheads, blackheads, or even milia. When oil glands secrete an excess amount of oil due to hormonal imbalances, the pore often gets clogged with the duct dilation leading to the appearance of an open pore. On the other hand, if you suffer from dry skin, your sebaceous glands may secrete more oil to compensate for the dryness, resulting in a dilated opening or a wider pore," explains Dr Jaishree Sharad, a Mumbai-based dermatologist. 

It is with age—and adoption of poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking excess alcohol, sleeping late, and a high sugar intake—that the collagen and elastin which hold the pores in place begin breaking down. As a result of the loss of support, the pores seem to be larger and more apparent. 

You may wonder, "Is life going to be like this forever?", "Am I going to take my large pores to my grave?", "Is there absolutely no way out?". Hold up the panicking, cause there are a few things that may help (we pinky swear). 

According to Dr Jaishree, to treat dilated pores as a result of excessive oil secretion, you need to exfoliate once or twice a week, depending on your skin type. "You may also use a beta hydroxy acid serum such as salicylic acid, which is lipophilic in nature—tends to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats. This will dissolve the oil and unclog the pores. Alternatively, opt for an alpha hydroxy serum such as lactic acid, mandelic acid, glycolic acid, or retinol, which will help tighten the skin by boosting collagen production and improving skin texture and appearance of pore size," she adds.

However, if you don't luck out with topical applicants, you may have to undergo specific treatments such as micro-needling with a derma pen or radiofrequency, or fractional laser treatment. But instead of going through the pain of it all (quite literally), why not try to prevent large pores from developing in the first place? Dr Jaishree recommends that you cleanse your face twice a day and ensure that you get rid of all your makeup at bedtime to avoid clogging. Make it a practice to exfoliate twice a week, especially if you possess oily skin. Plus, do not skip on a moisturiser. "Wear sunscreen 365 days of the year and avoid smoking and excess sugar intake to prevent premature collagen breakdown. You can also use an AHA, BHA, or retinol serums as prescribed by your dermatologist," she adds. 


Image: Courtesy Cosmopolitan USA