How to Unblock Clogged Pores

Updated April 17, 2017

Pores are small openings in the skin that secrete oil and perspiration from glands below the dermis. Without proper care, pores become clogged and enlarged. Oil, dirt, bacteria and dead or thickened skin cells obstruct pores, trapping sweat and oils inside. This causes acne, whiteheads and blackheads.

Cleanse your skin daily. Use warm water and a washcloth with salicylic acid to extricate the dirt and oil, according to "Prevention." End by rinsing with colder water and applying an alcohol-free toner to close your pores.

Treat blemishes as they appear with topical salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These treatments will dry up the oil. If prone to breakouts in a certain area--such as your forehead--apply treatment nightly to that area as a preventive measure.

Exfoliate. Scrub your face gently with a grainy, exfoliating product. However, according to "Prevention," those over forty should skip this step, because it can be overly drying. Use a clay mask once a week to draw the debris out of the pores and tighten the look of your skin.

Apply topical creams with retinol or other retinoid, which facilitates cellular renewal, helping to discard dead skin and dry up excess oils.

Use a moisturiser with alpha hydroxy acids, which exfoliates pores while sloughing off dead cells, according to "Prevention." The moisturiser should also have an SPF of at least 15. Sunlight can thicken the skin, making it more difficult to keep pores clean and clear of dead skin cells. Moisturise daily.

Visit a dermatologist. Chemical peels and dermabrasion resurface and smooth out the skin, cleaning blocked pores in the process. Dermatologists can also provide access to prescription grade retinoids and other topicals, oral antibiotics, light therapy and other state-of-the-art procedures that improve the skin's health, cleansing the pores and diminishing their appearance in the process.


Avoid wearing heavy make-up, which can compound the problem of clogged pores. Choose a natural product like mineral based make-up if you need to use cosmetics. Don't touch your face with your hands. Use a clean tissue instead.


Do not use salicylic acid if you are pregnant.

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About the Author

Elaine Riot has been writing professionally since 2001. Her work has been published online; in quarterly business, arts and education publications; and in B2B and consumer magazines. A natural wordsmith, Riot writes effective copy for a diverse clientele, including the University of Washington, Vulcan, Inc. and She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.