Will scrubbing your skin help unclog pores?

Clogged pores are not from excess dirt so no amount of scrubbing will help them 'unclog'. Pores look larger and darker from the build up of sticky skin cells and thick oil. The best remedy is regular use of a retinoid or salicylic acid product. These products help to exfoliate the skin at the level of the cells. Since these creams or gels can be irritating, it is best to start just two or three times a week and to continue to moisturize regularly. Using a gentle scrub once or twice a week will allow the topical ingredients to penetrate better. However a soft electric brush can be used daily with a hydrating lotion cleanser to keep the skin feeling smooth.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Scrubbing your facial skin with gritty exfoliants and loofahs can irritate your skin and inflame the pimples you already have, making your problem worse instead of better. Instead of reaching for a scrubber, massage your facial cleanser into your skin with your fingertips and follow it up by rinsing and then patting your skin dry.

Patricia Farris, MD

Scrubbing your skin will not necessarily unclog pores. Clogged pore form when dead skin cells become sticky obstructing the opening of the hair follicle or pore. Oil glands secrete an oily substance called sebum into the hair follicle. When the follicle is blocked the oil becomes trapped inside. These clogged pores are visible on the skins surface as black heads and white heads. It is important to understand that the black in a black head is not dirt so no amount of scrubbing will remove it. The dark color you see is actually melanin pigment inside the skin cells that have clogged the pore.

    In general, I discourage aggressive scrubbing with abrasives or granular cleansers since this will not clear the pore and may cause irritation. The best way to unclog pores is to wash with chemical exfoliators that can help slough away dead skin cells. Dermatologists suggest cleansers with ingredients like salicylic, glycolic or lactic acid. These ingredients are comedolytic meaning they can unclog pores.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.