What Are Open Comedones?

Nya Bruce

Open comedones are non-inflammatory acne lesions that are open at the skin's surface. They are a dark color in the center as a result of the pore being dilated. This dark, slightly elevated head is the reason that they are also commonly known as blackheads. Blackheads, or open comedones, are relatively harmless and can appear on the face or torso.

Stress can cause acne and blackheads.
Stress can cause acne and blackheads.

A comedo is caused by over-active sebaceous glands. The natural oils that comes from these glands may mix with keratin, or skin debris, and can cause a hair follicle to become clogged. As this accumulation pushes towards the surface of the skin it can become either a closed or open comedo. When it remains open and dilated it is known as an open comedo.

Preventing comedone breakouts is best done through an exfoliating facial wash.
Preventing comedone breakouts is best done through an exfoliating facial wash.

As with most acne problems, there are certain factors that can cause this to happen or make it worse. This can range from improper cleansing of the skin to stress or a hormonal imbalance. Improper cleansing may be something as simple as cleaning too frequently or using the wrong products. Products that are applied to the skin, such as makeup, body lotions and oils, may also contribute to, or exacerbate, problems with open comedones.

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Open comedones are more commonly called blackheads.
Open comedones are more commonly called blackheads.

People often mistakenly believe that open comedones are a result of excessively dirty skin. This belief stems from the visibly dark coloring at the opening. As a result of being open at the surface of the skin, the debris inside the open comedones are exposed to oxygen. This exposure causes a reaction in the buildup that darkens the surface. When light hits this darkened surface, it reflects off the melanin within causing the center of the opening to appear black.

Some comedones should be drained by a dermatologist, although popping them at home may lead to scarring.
Some comedones should be drained by a dermatologist, although popping them at home may lead to scarring.

Scarring is a possibility if this type of comedo is not properly taken care of. One common mistake is attempting to "pop" or squeeze an open comedo. While this may release some of the pus inside, it will not resolve the problem, and scarring may occur as a result.

Applying a steamed towel to the face can help unclog the pores and reduce the occurrence of blackheads.
Applying a steamed towel to the face can help unclog the pores and reduce the occurrence of blackheads.

To prevent open comedones from occurring, it is necessary to adjust habits and products used. Mild soaps should be used to gently wash the skin. Oily products such as makeup, body lotions and hair care products should be discarded in exchange for those that are non-comedogenic or oil-free. Sweat, which is another factor behind acne and comedones, should be kept off of one's body as much as possible. This means removing sweaty clothes or preventing these items from rubbing against one's skin until they can be removed.

Removing sweaty clothing as soon as possible helps to prevent open comedones.
Removing sweaty clothing as soon as possible helps to prevent open comedones.
Individuals suffering from acne may consider using products that contain benzoyl peroxide.
Individuals suffering from acne may consider using products that contain benzoyl peroxide.

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Discussion Comments

anon342344

How do you treat holes in the skin due to open comedones?

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