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How Do I Choose the Best Treatment for Comedones?

Over-the-counter and prescription ointments are among the best treatments for comedones.
A comedone extractor with a sharp point is best for use on a whitehead.
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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Comedones, more commonly known as blackheads and whiteheads, are small acne lesions that occur when hair follicles become blocked by the skin’s natural oils. While comedones tend to be far less noticeable than other forms of acne, they can be quite stubborn, and therefore you may find it useful to know how they should be treated. For many, an over-the-counter or prescription-strength topical ointment or wash is the best treatment for comedones. You may also try eliminating your comedones with acne strips or a blackhead remover, although it should be noted that these treatments may cause scarring. Finally, note that in many cases, prevention is the most effective treatment for comedones.

To begin your quest to rid your skin of pesky comedones, you may want try using an over-the-counter wash or ointment containing salicylic acid or sulfur. Note that you are likely to see improvement only after several weeks of daily treatment with one of these products, and that your condition may actually appear to worsen until your skin grows used to a product. If your comedones do not appear to be disappearing after a month or two, you may want to visit a dermatologist, who can prescribe a topical medication containing a higher level of active ingredient than is found in over-the-counter products.

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Another possible treatment for comedones is manual removal. You may be able to remove the oil plugs which cause blackheads and whiteheads using adhesive acne strips, which are applied to the affected area and then quickly removed. It is also possible to purchase a removal tool from many drugstores. This tool consists of a small metal loop which is run over the surface of a comedone, forcing the oil plug out of the follicle. Before attempting manual removal of your comedones, you should note that these methods may pose a small risk of scarring and infection.

Many people find that the most successful treatment for comedones is prevention. In other words, by taking certain precautionary steps, you may be able to decrease future incidences of blackheads and whiteheads. Gently cleansing the skin once or twice each day may be the only treatment you need to keep comedones at bay. You may also wish to examine all cosmetics, hair gels, and other toiletries you regularly apply on and around the areas where your comedones tend to occur. Hold onto only those products which are labeled non-comedogenic, a designation which indicates that a product is not likely to cause breakouts.

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