Every day I see patients that have many skin concerns, from acne to wrinkles to excess pigment. The list goes on. One huge major common concern is PORES. I constantly hear, “Why do I have so many pores?” and “Why are my pores so large?” Everyone wants to have small pores that aren’t noticeable. But have you ever stopped to wonder what exactly are pores? They do have an important function for our skin besides driving us crazy! Knowing this might ease your mind and obsession with getting rid of them.
Pores are the small openings in the skin in which oil and sweat reach the surface from the glands in your body. We actually have two different types of pores: Oil pores and sweat pores.
Oil Pores are also known as hair follicles. These can be found over your entire body, except for the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. When people describe enlarged pores or pores that are blocked, they are actually referring to oil pores. They have a very important job, believe it or not! These little fellas actually allow oil to travel from the oil glands (sebaceous glands) and reach the surface and provide lubrication to the skin. Oil is often thought of as the enemy, when in reality it is very beneficial in helping keep the skin supple, moisturized and healthy. This is important to know. I see patients all the time trying to get rid of their oil by using harsh products such as astringents full of alcohol, and the end result is over treated, stripped skin. When you strip your skin of the oil, it will in turn go into overtime, causing it to produce more. Your skin is trying to compensate for this loss of oil, and ends up producing too much. NOT GOOD!
Sweat Pores work in much the same way. They allow sweat to travel from the sweat (sudoriferous) glands to the surface of the body. These pores are really tiny and aren’t given much thought since we really can’t see them with the naked eye.
Acne is a disorder of the pore along with the sebaceous glands and oil ducts. Typically, your pores do a great job of sweeping out the oil, dirt and dead skin cells that end up there. But sometimes this process can go wrong and instead of the oil and dirt leaving the pore, it is trapped instead in the hair follicle. All of your blemishes, whether it be milia or pimples, begin as a blocked pore. In this case, a good acne treatment is usually needed to keep the pores clear and prevent breakouts.
Large pores a lot of times can be genetic. If your family members have large pores, more than likely you will too. Fortunately, there are treatments that will help improve your texture and diminish pore size, leaving you with the skin you would love to have!
Exfoliants such as retinal, salicylic acid, glycolic acid and other alpha hydroxy acids will diminish pore size by sloughing off layers of dead skin and increasing cellular turnover, which in turn make pores appear smaller.
Prescription Medications such as topical retinoids will smooth skin and make pores look smaller. Prescription antibiotics such as clendamycin can aid in killing the bacteria that clog the pores, which in turn will help out in the pore department as well.
Professional treatments such as microdermabrasion , chemical peels, and lasers such as Fraxel and Clear and Brilliant can be especially helpful in minimizing the appearance of large pores.
They may be small, but pores are an important part of our overall skin function and appearance so let’s take good care of them!