Beauty Buzz: How to treat large pores

By Dr. Cheryl Hull, dermatologist and owner of Hull Dermatology

hull-dermatologyMost women are concerned about the visibility of their facial pores. There are three main things that cause pores to enlarge: genetics, age and sun damage. People who have thick, oily skin tend to have large pores as well. With age, pore size changes because of changes in the skin.

Of these changes, decreased moisture is a big factor. There’s a lot of research in dermatology focusing on estrogen and the skin. Evidence shows estrogen is important for maintaining the skin’s moisture and thickness. As women age, estrogen levels decline, resulting in the reduced ability to maintain moisture. Reduced moisture seems to affect pore size.

Lastly, chronic sun damage destroys elastic tissue and this causes pores to dilate. When the pores dilate, debris and keratin clog the pores and accentuate their appearance.

To minimize the  appearance of pore size, it’s important to moisturize daily with a facial moisturizer with a SPF of at least 30. Exfoliation to remove the keratinous debris twice a week is important. I highly recommend the handheld Clarisonic for daily use. 

To actually decrease pore size, I have several recommendations for patients. I try to start as many of these patients as I can on a topical retinoind cream every night before bed. Regular and long-term use of retinoinds minimize pores. This class of medications can be very drying and irritating, so proper education of how to apply the creams is important. I also recommend daily use of an alpha-hydroxy acid wash, such as a glycolic acid wash. Glycolic wash helps to exfoliate and has been shown in studies to help shrink pore size with long-term use.

In addition to the nightly application of a retinoid cream, daily use of a glycolic acid wash, at least twice a week exfoliation with a mild scrub, and daily use of a facial moisturizer with a SPF of at least 30, there are other options to help minimize pore size. A series of Microdermabrasions or chemical peels reduce pores. To maintain the results achieved with these procedures, I recommend a daily regimen using a glycolic acid wash, tretinoin cream before bedtime and daily application of a moisturizer with SPF.

Also, to shrink pores in our practice we use a pneumatic (“vacuum”) assisted laser treatment referred to as Isolaz. Isolaz uses a combination of photo pneumatic energy that combines a gentle vacuum with broad-band light. Isolaz removes blockages in the pores, including blackheads, dirt, oil and dead cells. The light destroys bacteria and shrinks oil glands.

Skin is purified from the inside out. Treatments are safe, painless, effective and require no downtime. All skin types can be treated, including those with darker skin.

How does it work? The treatment tip gently pulls up the skin and vacuums pore impurities. The light energy then destroys the acne-causing bacteria. Oil glands shrink, and blackheads/debris deep in the pores are removed. Treatment takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the area treated.

*This post originally published on Motherlode in March 2010. For more info on pores or other dermatology-related issues, contact Dr. Hull by calling her office at 479-254-9662. Hull Dermatology has offices in Rogers, Bella Vista and at the Eureka Springs Hospital. Dr. Hull has published several scientific papers and has received numerous awards and honors for her work in dermatology. For more info, click here to visit the Hull Dermatology website.