- Large pores are pores that are more visible to the naked eye.
- Pore size is often genetic, but factors such as sebum secretion and skin elasticity may make pores appear larger.
- Large pores are best treated by exfoliation and treatments that help regulate sebum production and counteract skin aging.
- Dermatological treatments such as laser therapy, deep peels and prescription-strength retinoids are also available.
- Prevent large pores by keeping your skin hydrated and clean, and ensuring the products you use are suitable for your skin type.
Pores are small openings on the skin that sweat and sebum pass through to reach the skin’s surface. Enlarged pores are those which are more clearly visible to the naked eye and appear dilated.
Pore size is primarily genetic but overproduction of sebum, or oil, can also lead to visibly enlarged pores due to oil combining with skin debris, which causes clogging.
Skin aging and low skin elasticity may also make pores appear enlarged. Large pores may be present with other skin concerns such as blackheads, because they are more easily impacted by the accumulation of skin debris.
The best way to treat large pores is by targeting their underlying associated causes, such as increased sebum production and skin aging, and by unclogging pores through exfoliation and peeling.
A pore is the opening of a hair follicle. The sebaceous gland within each hair follicle secretes sebum, a lubricating oil, through the pores. Sebum production is important for skin health because it protects and moisturizes the skin.
It is a misconception that pores open or close. They don’t – but they may dilate due to a buildup of skin debris, especially when combined with sebum. It is not clear whether pore size can be reduced, but pores can be made to appear smaller.
Another misconception is that enlarged pores on the face are directly affected or caused by sweat. In fact, facial sweat glands have different openings onto the skin than pores. Sweating on the face, therefore, is not directly related to enlarged pores.
That said, in other regions of the body sweat could be more directly linked to enlarged pores. In areas such as the armpits and groin, sweat is secreted from sweat glands that are directly connected to hair follicles.
Do you have large pores?
Facial pores are typically visible to the naked eye and can range from approximately 250 to 500 micrometers in size. The typical size range of your pores varies depending on factors like your skin tone and your age.
There is no consensus on how to determine whether a pore is considered large, and many cases are determined through visual assessments. Specialized imaging techniques and replicas can also be used by dermatologists to help determine pore sizes.
Pore size is mostly genetic, but other factors may also make them appear larger.
The most common causes of large pores are high sebum secretion and decreased skin elasticity. Other factors include chronic acne, hormonal differences, sun damage, radiodermatitis and vitamin A deficiency.
Large pores on the nose and cheeks
Large pores are often most prominent on the nose as a result of the large sebaceous glands that are beneath the skin in this area. This increases the level of oiliness which further contributes to the appearance of large pores.
Pores may appear enlarged on the cheeks due to the application of makeup which may clog pores.
Extremely large pores
Large pores and extremely large pores are not necessarily the result of different causes. However, people who have had cystic acne will be more likely to exhibit extremely large pores as cysts may cause pores to stretch and appear significantly larger.
How to Treat Large Pores
Large pores can be made to appear smaller by decreasing or regulating sebum production and counteracting skin aging. Exfoliation can also help by unclogging the pores and reducing dilation.
Retinoids and anti-aging solutions are used to counteract skin aging and encourage firm and elastic skin. Scrubs, cleansers and face masks lightly exfoliate the skin, whereas chemical peels provide a deep exfoliation and can also decrease sebum production.
A topical retinoid is a vitamin A derivative which helps reverse the skin changes that occur with aging and sun damage by increasing skin thickness and elasticity and by slowing collagen breakdown.
One study showed that tazarotene, a topical retinoid, is effective in reducing the visible size of pores.
However, an analysis of different treatments for large pores explains that reducing the size of pores typically goes hand in hand with addressing the underlying causes of pore enlargement, like increased sebum production. This means pore size reduction in retinoid treatment studies might be an indirect consequence of acne treatment rather than a direct consequence of retinoid treatment.
A topical retinoid takes only a little time to apply and has the bonus of also helping to treat acne, psoriasis and skin aging. However, retinoids can sometimes cause side effects such as burning, scaling, peeling, redness and swelling that make them unpleasant to use.
Sun sensitivity may also occur during the first few months of treatment, and preventative measures such as the application of sunscreen should be taken.
Retinoids are gels or creams which should be applied once a day before bedtime. A pea-sized amount should be applied to the skin 20–30 minutes after cleansing.
Because large pores are linked to skin aging, anti-aging solutions might be an effective way to reduce visible pore size.
A healthy collagen and elastin framework is vital to preventing or reversing skin aging. Anti-aging serums encourage collagen production and help revitalize skin, making it appear more youthful and potentially reducing how large pores appear.
These serums should be applied in small pea-sized dots around the face, then massaged gently into the skin.
Exfoliation can be achieved through the application of a face mask or (gentle) exfoliating face scrubs and cleansers. These exfoliants are lighter and less abrasive than chemical peels. Through regular exfoliation, pores can appear smaller.
Light chemical peels
A chemical peel is a solution which removes and regenerates the outer layers of skin, acting as a much deeper exfoliant than face scrubs and cleansers. It also treats acne and skin aging. Light chemical peels can be bought over the counter, but do not work as deeply as professional peels.
A glycolic acid peel is an alpha hydroxy acid, which removes and resurfaces the top layer of skin, working to regenerate skin cells and clean out pores.
Chemical peels have proven effective at treating large pores. However, those with rosacea, dark skin tones and sensitive skin may experience some irritation from chemical peel use. In such cases it is best to apply the light solution to a small area on your forearm as a spot test.
Treatments to avoid
Avoid any products that are greasy and could contribute to clogged pores. Conversely, avoid products that can dry and irritate the skin as this can lead to an overproduction of sebum. These products include:
- Thick or greasy creams
- Bar soap
- Harsh scrubs
- Dehydrating home treatments such as toothpaste or rubbing alcohol
When over-the-counter treatments are not effective, it can be beneficial to consult a dermatologist to discuss further options, such as:
- Stronger retinoids
- Deeper chemical peels
- Oral antiandrogens
- Laser, radiofrequency and ultrasound treatments
A dermatologist can prescribe more potent topical or oral retinoids, especially if you also have acne.
Deep chemical peels
Deep chemical peels penetrate layers of skin to remove and regenerate damaged cells, potentially reducing how large pores appear due to the skin’s newfound firmness and elasticity.
Microdermabrasion, similar to a chemical peel, removes the top layer of skin so that a new layer of firmer, more elastic and smooth skin can form. It also reduces sebum production. This procedure is noninvasive and only takes about 30 minutes to undergo when performed on the face.
Antiandrogens such as combined oral contraceptives (birth control pills which combine oestrogen and progestogen) help regulate sebum production, and have been shown to significantly reduce pore size.
They act as androgen receptor blockers, preventing androgens such as testosterone from binding to their receptors. This helps to regulate sebum production, reducing buildup in the pores and making them appear smaller. However, oral antiandrogens can have serious side effects, so it is best to discuss this treatment with your dermatologist or doctor.
Laser, radiofrequency and ultrasound
Targeted thermal or ultrasound energy remodels collagen fibers to increase skin elasticity and reduce sebum production. Studies have shown that both ultrasound and laser treatments are effective in reducing visible pore size.
Preventing Large Pores
Prevent large pores by following a good skin care regimen to ensure it remains hydrated and healthy:
- Follow a skin care routine that incorporates a mild face wash, astringent-free toner, gentle exfoliant and a moisturizer suited to your skin type.
- Choose skin care products that are noncomedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores.
- Protect your skin from harmful UV rays and apply SPF 30 sunscreen every day.
While pore size is primarily genetic, large pores are also caused by the overproduction of sebum, clogged pores, decreased skin elasticity and skin aging.
To reduce how large your pores appear, choose products that help regulate sebum production, counteract the signs of aging, exfoliate and unclog pores. You may also prevent the appearance of large pores by adhering to a good skin care routine.
Light surface exfoliants such as scrubs, face masks and cleansers can prevent your pores from becoming clogged and dilated. Retinoids and anti-aging solutions can counteract skin aging to reduce the size of pores.
Should you find these solutions are not effective, professional treatments such as potent retinoids, deep chemical peels, microdermabrasion, oral antiandrogens and laser therapy can be considered to reduce the appearance of large pores.
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