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What are Closed Comedones and How to Treat Them?

Closed Comedones
Closed Comedones

Curious to know how to treat closed comedones? If an inflamed, angry-red bump is the skin-care equivalent of a scream, a closed comedone is a threatening whisper. Ostensibly headless and unpoppable, closed comedones are white or skin-colored pimples that gradually build beneath the skin’s surface until they’re large sufficient to be noticeable in profile.

Closed comedones are commonly called whiteheads, which, contrary to popular belief, aren’t those white, pus-filled pimples you’re so often tempted to pop. Actual whiteheads aren’t even really poppable. However, if you attempt to pop them or get irritated by bacteria, they can develop into poppable pimples.

Closed Comedones Reddit
Closed Comedones Reddit

What is Comedonal Acne? 

Comedones are small flesh-colored acne papules. They usually develop on the forehead and chin. You typically see these pimples when you’re dealing with acne. Blackheads and whiteheads are the various common forms of comedonal acne. Blackheads are known for open comedones, while whiteheads are known for closed ones.

Some comedones may be invisible to the eye (micro comedones). On the flip side, it’s also possible to have larger-than-normal blackheads (giant comedo) and whiteheads (macro comedones). Keep reading to learn how to recognize comedonal acne, your options for therapy, and more.

Closed Comedones Causes

Some people are extra prone to developing comedones or pore blockages than others. Everyone gets closed comedones now and then. But if you have many of them and are relatively constant, you probably have a type of acne called comedonal acne.

Closed comedones are expected during the tween and teen years, as the skin’s sebaceous glands (also identified as oil glands) ramp up the product. With all that excess oil, comedones are more liable to form.

But teens aren’t the only people who get certain blemishes. They’re also common in adults with oily skin. Some studies recommend that smokers are more likely to develop closed comedones, too.

Not only that, but any products that you put on your skin might be giving to these blemishes. Heavy creams and lotions are often the culprits. Makeup, especially oil-based products, can also do it.

If your breakouts are analyzed mostly around the hairline, you might want to take a closer look at your hair products. They might be triggering your blemishes.

Closed Comedones Extraction
Closed Comedones Extraction

How to Treat Closed Comedones

Just because they’re not red and sensitive doesn’t mean that comedones aren’t annoying. They are! These rough little bumps often form in clusters, creating uneven and bumpy skin patches most commonly found on the chin and forehead.

They can affect your emotional state, have adverse effects on your confidence, and become worse acne if left untreated. Luckily, there are several ways to treat them.

Seldom closed comedones will go elsewhere on their own, but that can take weeks or months. If you want to get rid of yours earlier rather than later, hold out for these various treatment options. 

Topical Treatments to Treat Comedones 

One of the most simplistic approaches to treat closed comedones is with topical treatments, medicinal creams, and ointments. Most maximum people prefer non-invasive treatments to more severe treatments, so it’s usually best to start with one of these first.

Benzoyl peroxide 

Benzoyl peroxide is a well-known ingredient in most over the counter acne treatments. It dries out acne and can even kill the bacteria in your skin that causes breakouts in the first place. It can be quite useful on closed comedones, but it can take several weeks or months of regular use to see results.

Azelaic acid

People have been battling acne with azelaic acid for years, though it’s usually only found in prescription acne medications. This powerful agent helps kill bacteria and clear out pores, making it a useful option for treating closed comedones.

Salicylic acid

Available in various counter products, salicylic acid contains ingredients that make the skin cells shed faster. This can assist to eliminate the debris from closed comedones and prevent prospective ones from getting clogged.

Some products with salicylic acid also involve resorcinol, which removes the top layer of skin and makes it easier to shed dead cells. Seldom, getting rid of the top layer of skin is all you require to unclog your pores.

Glycolic acid

Like salicylic acid, glycolic acid can be located in a variety of acne treatments. It’s excellent at exfoliating the skin and might be all you require to slough off those dead skin cells and unclog those pores. Glycolic acid does increase sensitivity to the sun, so if you utilize it, make sure you apply a regular sunscreen as well.


There is a variety of different retinoids, such as tretinoin, isotretinoin, and adapalene. Some of these need a prescription, so if you’ve tried other medications and haven’t seen growth, it’s time to head to your dermatologist. There’s a great chance your derm will give you a prescription for one of these.

As with some of the products we mentioned above, retinoids help speed up turning over skin cells. The quicker you shed your skin cells, the less likely they are to clog your pores, and the faster you can clear blockages.

Be especially careful when mixing retinoids with other exfoliants. United with certain ingredients, they can be quite disturbing to the skin.

Prescription Medications

If topical operations don’t work, your dermatologist may prescribe you an oral medication. If you’ve tried topical ways to no avail, schedule an appointment with your derm to understand what your next steps should be.

Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal therapy is seldom used to treated closed comedones in women. It’s not an effective method for men, as it’s used to minimize testosterone’s effect on women. It operates because testosterone in women can increase the production of oil, which can produce comedones in the first place.

There are various drugs and medications that doctors may prescribe, including birth control pills, which can minimize the effect of certain hormones on the body and skin.


Antibiotics are seldom used in the treatment of severe acne. And while comedonal acne is not necessarily painful, antibiotics can be an effective treatment method in some people. Generally addressing, antibiotics can reduce bacteria on the skin and in your follicles. They can also check your closed comedones from becoming more inflamed.