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Comedone Extractor

S K I N  C A R E

Comedone Extraction: Use It for Blackheads?

By Dr. Kristie

Skin comedones are those ugly little facial bumps that are more commonly known as blackheads and whiteheads. They pop up when pores become clogged with an oily substance called sebum which leads to the appearance of tiny black bumps (blackheads), or white bumps (whiteheads). Comedones are difficult to cover with makeup or concealer, and spreading makeup on them only makes the situation worse by clogging the pores.

There are a variety of treatments for skin comedones, but the best treatment begins with a good cleansing program. This usually involves washing with a mild soap and applying 2.5% benzoyl peroxide lotion. Some people also get good results using Retin-A, although it can take several months to see results. Some who want quicker results turn to a procedure called comedone extraction – a process for manually removing comedones.

Comedone extraction is done with a special instrument called a comedone extractor. This is a metal tool that has a sharp blade at one end to puncture the head of the comedone. The other end is used to apply pressure once the comedone is opened - to help remove the sebum that’s blocking the follicle. Most dermatologists have this instrument in their office and can perform a comedone extraction when needed.

There are web sites that sell comedone extractors you can buy them for home use as a sort of “do-it-yourself” way of removing comedones. A professional grade comedone extracter made of surgical stainless steel can be purchased for under $40.00. It may sound tempting to buy one of these - especially considering the cost of visiting a dermatologist - but it’s best to let a professional remove them since doing it incorrectly can lead to scarring. Not only can scarring be a problem when comedone removal is done at home, if the sebum isn’t completely removed it can become inflamed leading to a pimple.

The bottom line? It’s best to treat skin comedones with a good skin care routine and benzoyl peroxide. If that fails to reduce the number of skin comedones after several months, prescription Retin-A can be added under the care of a doctor. It’s best to reserve comedone removal for only the most severe cases of blackheads and whiteheads since it could lead to scarring. 

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