Oil Bumps: What You Need to Know

The oil bumps on your face are essentially pockets of sebum oil, usually a result of acne or when your pores get all clogged up. While oil bumps are more commonly formed during puberty (when our hormones set off a rollercoaster of bodily changes) they can affect a number of adults as well. Oil bumps themselves can be a source of acne problem as well as other facial skin problems.

What are comedones?
Notice your skin feeling a little rough lately? This might be due to comedones—light or dark oil bumps that could indicate a milder form of acne. Comedones are created when microscopic debris blocks the openings of hair follicles, usually by excess oil, skin cells, and sometimes bacteria. They are more commonly known as blackheads and whiteheads, though they can also be called open comedones and black comedones respectively.

What causes blackheads?
If you notice a blackhead or two forming on your face, it’s time to keep a lookout. Studies show that blackheads are often indicative of the first stage of acne. Infection occurs when bacteria begin to clog up pores or hair follicles in skin, resulting in a plug that—when exposed to oxygen—becomes black hence the coining of the term “black head” for this type of comedone. Blackheads may also be caused by your body going into hormone overdrive, a common occurrence in puberty and young adulthood.

What causes whiteheads?
On the other hand, whiteheads tend to be a bit less obvious than blackheads. They are significantly smaller and some of them cannot be easily seen by the naked eye. However, a whitehead signifies that the hair follicles on your skin have been completely blocked, which happens when dead skin cells and bacteria become are trapped in the excess sebum on your skin. The plug on whiteheads is usually white (hence the name) or flesh-colored. On the up side, studies show that whiteheads are easier to deal with than blackheads, as they don’t stay on the face for too long.

What do I do with these comedones?
Commercial products that specialize in comedones often have high amounts of salicylic acid, resorcinol, or sulfur. Salicylic acid prevents the formation of dead skin cells or at least slows down the natural process of cell shedding near the follicles of oil glands at the same time treating any existing inflammation. Resorcinol and sulfur work by actively breaking down both types of comedones.

These types of treatments, while effective to some degree, tend to be a bit strong, especially for sensitive skin types. Certain homemade skin care recipes and natural extracts work just as well. Argan oil, is one natural skin care product that is believed to be helpful in keeping the skin clear and beautiful. The oil comes with a high amount of Vitamin E and essential fatty acids which are the key nutrients believed to help keep the skin clear, soft and smooth. Aside from Vitamin E, the oil also contains other antioxidants such as Carotenoids, Ferulic acid and Polyphenols. Antioxidants are believed to help prevent free radicals from damaging the skin. There are studies being conducted to test the effectiveness of topical antioxidants in protecting the skin. Although there isn’t a conclusive result yet verifying the effectiveness of topical antioxidants, it would not hurt to give these antioxidants a try. If you have clear skin, regular application of Argan oil may help in keeping your skin clear and may also prevent the formation of comedones. There is only anecdotal evidence that the oil is also helpful in getting rid of existing comedones.

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