What exactly are enlarged pores and how can you get rid of them?

Image via Fox

The other day, my sister turned to me and said affectionately, “You know you have a hole in your face? It’s like a huge crater!”

She was referring to the enlarged pore I’ve had on my cheek for some time now.

I’m pretty sure it started off as a blackhead. I squeezed it (do NOT advise) and was left with a permanent reminder. It’s not big enough to stop strangers on the street, but people have certainly started to notice it – and it’s making me rather self-conscious.

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According to Associate Professor Greg Goodman, Dermatologist at the Dermatology Institute of Victoria, while it’s not uncommon to have enlarged pores, many people dislike them as they interrupt the smoothness of the skin and can accumulate grime and dirt.

Say hello to the crater in my face. Image: supplied.

They can develop for all sorts of reasons.

"Oily skin, sun damage, puberty and even genetics all play a part," he explains. So if you suffer from very visible pores, blame your parents.

The worst-affected area is usually on and around the nose, although some may find them on their cheeks, forehead and chin.

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"It often overlaps to those who are acne prone (but not always) and unfortunately, often outlasts the acne tendency as people get older," he says.

The Skin Centre dermatologist Dr Michael Freeman says the worst thing you can do it pick or squeeze them as you can risk infection. While you can't get rid of enlarged pores, as such, you can minimise their appearance. For this, Dr Goodman says cleansing is key. (Post continues after gallery.)


Your best bet? Look for products labelled ‘non-comedogenic’, it means they won't clog your pores.

"Unfortunately, using even one product with a pore-clogging ingredient will cause problems in some people, so being careful about ingredient choice is a must," he says.

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Products tailored for oily skin types generally exclude comedogenic ingredients, so as a general rule skincare for oily skin is a good place to start for treating pores. Terms like non-comedogenic, non-pore clogging, non-acneigenic, non-acne forming and oil-free are also good.

Avoid excessive scrubbing or exfoliation as they will not clean your pores, but rather take away the defences of your skin surface.

Avoid harsh scrubbing of your pores. Image via iStock

There are also a number of things you can do to prevent enlarged pores from occurring, including using active skin care.

Creams with Vitamin A (such as Retinol) and Vitamin B (Niacinamide) and prescription strength retinoids like Retin A and Adapalene are excellent at clearing pores.

"They're called comedolytic as they burrow down the hair follicles breaking up comedones that are the mini blockages that precede pimples," he explains.

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Products with Salicylic acid are also useful in dislodging dirt and grime from pores, and although it has recently become an "it" ingredient in skincare, Dr Goodman says it's been used for more than 100 years by dermatologists.

Do you have enlarged pores? Do they bother you?