Comedones are forms of acne, which we may more commonly refer to as whiteheads or blackheads. A single whitehead or blackhead is a comedo or comedone, which means glutton in Latin. Comedones is a common plural form of comedo.
This type of acne tends to create relatively small black or white bumps on the face. Whiteheads look like they contain a tiny bit of pus, though this is mostly dead skin cells. Although they are still visible, they are called closed comedones because they have a little bit of skin over the top of them. The main difference between a white and a blackhead is that blackheads don’t have this skin closing. This means material in them oxidizes from contact with the air, and turn black or dark brown.
Material in a comedone, white or black, is really the same, and the two types form in a near identical way. Both are caused when follicles in the skin become blocked, usually by sebum, an oil produced by the sebaceous glands. As follicles get blocked, they widen and collect dead skin cells and a small amount of bacteria. Comedones can be very small, and merely look like a bump, but some get larger and more obvious when the follicle remains blocked. People may have a variety of comedone sizes, especially on their faces and especially if they are teens when sebum production is highest.
Many skin experts recommend that the best way to get rid of one comedone or many is through skin exfoliation. This means using a soap or face wash specifically designed to slough off dead skin cells. When this is combined with use of an astringent like benzyl peroxide, it will help reduce sebum present on the face. By clearing the skin of dead cells and reducing oil, you may have success in keeping comedones to a minimum.
Not all people have luck with this, and acne development is often a matter of age and inheritance. If you are troubled by frequent breakouts, you can see a dermatologist for prescription medications that may help. Some people turn to devices like a comedone extractor to get rid of these pimples. Extracting them can cause scarring and needs to be done with care so that you don’t spread bacteria to other parts of the face. It’s recommended you really be trained in how to remove comedones so you don’t end up with scars or infection.