Big Pores, No More

I don’t think I have a single patient who hasn’t at some time complained of big pores. Now, the dermatological population may not be representative (I know my patients are their own harshest critics) and many examine themselves in high-definition lighting with magnifying mirrors…..but I do feel their pain.

Pores are simply the ‘funnel’ which allows oil to flow from the sebaceous gland deep within the hair follicle to the outside surface of the skin. This structure becomes more obvious in 2 instances:

1)   Traffic through the pore increases and it gets clogged: this is either through too much oil or sticky skin cells at the ‘mouth’ of the funnel.

2)   The scaffolding around the pore gets weak. As we age the dermis (the deeper layer of the skin) gets depleted and there is less collagen to hold the pore upright-so it can flop open more, leading to the impression of bigger pores.

Contrary to popular belief, pores do not open and shut like gates.

Approaches to reducing pore prominence are therefore directed to either keeping the traffic flowing smoothly or strengthening the scaffolding.

Long-term use of prescription retinoids will help on 2 levels. They minimize cells clogging on the suface (therefore preventing comedone formation and reducing acne) and they also stimulate fibroblasts to produce more collagen. Over-the-counter preparations that contain properly stabilized REtinol will work in a similar way.

Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) also help because they are fat-soluble which means they can get into the oily environment of the pore to keep it clog-free.  Products containing salicylic acid are very helpful to oily big-pored complexions for this reason.

Medical needling works brilliantly to build up collagen and strength the pore’s scaffolding-patients often embark on a course of treatment to deal with acne scarring and are surprised when they see pore shrinkage as well.

Finally, microsponge technology may be a great new way to reduce oil flow by allowing these magical little vessels to mop up excess oil-and they may also help deliver a steady amount of BHAs to the skin through the day-genius on 2 levels.

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