Pores 101: What You Need to Know


If you struggle with acne, you have probably heard a great deal about pores. Enlarged pores, clogged pores and blocked pores all contribute to the appearance of pimples. You may have even purchased hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars-worth of products and treatments that claim to minimize or reduce the appearance of your pores. But, how much do you really know about your pores? 

Caring for your pores can contribute to healthy and happy skin. That is why we think it is important to understand the role that pores play, how they can become clogged and ways to safely and effectively treat clogged or blocked pores. While we’re at it, let’s also clear up some common myths about pores so you can have the information you need to care for your skin. 

What are Pores? 

Simply put, pores are openings in the skin that release oil and sweat. Pores and hair follicles are two terms that are often used interchangeably. The pore is the opening through which a hair exits the surface of the skin. Pores can be found on every inch of skin, except for the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. In fact, the adult has an average of 5 million pores on their body, with about 20,000 of those on the face. 

Two Types of Pores 

Oil Pores: These pores release oil, or sebum. Oil pores are the ones that get the most attention since they are most likely to become clogged. Sebum rises up the follicle and exits through the pore. Usually, it takes dead skin cells with it and clears out your pores. Sometimes, the process doesn’t work as it should and your pore becomes clogged with sebum and dead skin. 

Sweat Pores: Sweat pores are very small and can’t be seen by the naked eye. Sweat is produced by sweat glands, which release the substance through the follicle and out onto the skin’s surface through the pore. Typically, sweat glands do not get clogged and cause pimples. However, you can get a rash from blocked sweat pores. 

Why Do I Have Large Pores? 

Large pores are a concern for many people because they dislike the appearance on their skin. It’s important to know that the size of your pores is due mainly to genetics. Larger pores are caused when the oil gland produces excessive amounts of sebum. They can also appear larger due to prior acne, sun damage or pore-clogging makeup or skincare products. 

How to Properly Treat Large or Clogged Pores 

Unfortunately, you can’t change the size of your pores. However, by employing simple skincare habits and using the right products, you can keep your pores clear and reduce their appearance. Follow the suggestions below consistently and you will see a huge improvement in pore size and acne production: 

  1. Cleanse your skin with a non-comedogenic cleanser 
  2. Avoid over-cleansing or scrubbing 
  3. Apply an SPF that won’t clog pores
  4. Use non-comedogenic makeup
  5. Avoid the use of heavy oils or creams
  6. Use AHAs or BHAs to exfoliate your skin 
  7. Continue to hydrate using a light moisturizer
  8. Use detoxifying masks weekly
  9. Hydrate from the inside out by drinking plenty of water

If you are still struggling with clogged pores or acne, schedule a visit with your dermatologist. Your doctor will assess your skin to identify the root cause of your skin troubles. From there, you will be provided with recommendations and a tailored treatment plan to meet your needs. 

Common Myths About Pores Debunked 

Just like many other things when it comes to our skin, there are some myths about pores and acne. Knowing the truth can help you keep your skin clear and healthy. 

Blackheads occur when dirt enters the pore. 

In fact, blackheads are caused by a buildup of sebum and dead skin cells in the hair follicle. As the oil and skin cells fill the pore, they turn black or dark in color with exposure to oxygen in the air. Treatment for blackheads can include manual or chemical exfoliation. 

Wearing an SPF will cause clogged pores. 

Sunscreen is one of the most important products you will put on your skin every day. The key is to use the right one. Be sure to choose one that is lightweight and non-comedogenic. SPF protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and prevents damage that can deplete collagen levels. 

You can change the size of your pores.

As we mentioned above, your pore size is largely genetic. You won’t be able to permanently reduce the size of your pores. However, by following the skincare guidelines above, you can reduce their appearance and improve the look of your skin. 

Buckhead Dermatology – Atlanta and College Park 

If you live in the Atlanta area and struggle with acne or other skin conditions, schedule an appointment with Dr. Straughn at Buckhead Dermatology. Dr. Straughn has two convenient locations to meet the skincare needs of patients in Atlanta and College Park. Specializing in treating skin of color, Buckhead Dermatology can help you get the results that you desire.