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  • Writer's pictureJill Stetson

Squeezing Pores: How it Affects Your Skin

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Squeezing Pores on Your Nose and Other Areas

Clogged or enlarged pores are a big deal to most people. You can visibly see a change in your skin. Pore density is greatest in the classic “T -zone” of your forehead, nose, chin, and central face.

Clogged pores can be enlarged pores, but not all enlarged pores are clogged. This blog is focusing on the clogged pores - the ones you love to squeeze.

What Causes Clogged Pores?

Clogged pores are very common and result from dead skin cells, oil, and dirt getting trapped in your pore. If the black stuff in your pore is a true blackhead it’s a hard plug of dead skin cells and oil that got stuck in the pore.

Otherwise, dark material in a pore is just a collection of oil, dead cells, debris, and stuff that looks black but is not a hard blackhead - it’s just gunk!

Pores are clogged when you notice whiteheads, blackheads, or dull skin. Environmental factors also contribute to clogged pores. Factors like air toxins or oil are transferred from your hand to your face.

A buildup of dead skin cells, oil, or dirt can clog pores. Other causes include:

  • Dry skin or skin that produces extra skin cells.

  • Face products, like cleansers, lotions, or cosmetics.

  • Medications that change how much oil your glands produce.

  • Oily skin due to your age, hormones, or genetics.

Some things that don’t directly cause clogged pores, but can make them worse, include:

  • Clothing, backpacks, helmets, or other garments or equipment that rub against your skin

  • Humid conditions

  • Picking at pimples

  • Pollution

  • Stress and anxiety. (produces hormones)

  • Washing or scrubbing your skin too hard - drying it out

  • Oily versus dry skin - treatments

  • Oil transferred to your face from your hands

Most people notice clogged pores when they lead to one of the following skin concerns:


A clog in the opening of a pore can cause a raised white or flesh-colored bump on the skin. Another name for a whitehead is a closed comedone (closed pore). milia or pimple.


A clog that widens the opening of the pore is a blackhead. Blackheads don’t look black because of dirt; it’s the chemical reaction of the pore’s content mixing with oxygen that makes them appear black.

A very large blackhead is a dilated pore of Winer. It appears as an opening in your skin, filled with a blue or black substance.

Pimples and pustules

A lot of dirt and oil inside a pore can lead to redness, swelling, and irritation. Whiteheads and blackheads are types of pimples. Pimples are also called papules. If they contain pus, they’re pustules.

Nodules and cysts

A very clogged pore can cause swelling, pain, and irritation deep in the skin. If a nodule contains pus, it’s called a cyst. Cystic acne can lead to acne scars.

How Are Clogged Pores and Dead Skin Cells Treated?

The first step is regular cleansing - 2 times a day usually morning and night, and double cleanse at night. Use a cleanser that contains salicylic acid and a cleansing brush that gets the cleanser deeper into the pores.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, you may want a gentler cleanser. For oily skin salicylic acid is key because it works to get the oil out.

Glycolic acid and lactic acid can also work to drill down into the pores to release the gunk, especially for dry skin.

If you have combination skin - normal of the cheeks, but oily in the t-zone, then use a cleanser for normal skin and toner for oily skin on the t-zone only and a charcoal or clay mask on the T-zone only.

Use warm water to cleanse your skin. It’s much better than cold/cool water to pull out the oil. Tepid or cool water is better for complexions prone to redness and hot water is never a good choice.

If you don’t have a sonic cleanser or cleansing brush add an exfoliating sponge with cleanser to the areas with clogged pores. This also drills the cleanser down more. You can also use a washcloth or massage with your fingers for 60 to 90 seconds.

After cleansing, several times a week, use a clay or charcoal mask on the areas of clogged pores. This will help pull out the debris and oil.

Be careful though, because clay can be drying and even with oily skin you do not want to dry it out too much.

Some Additional Tips Only for Nose Pores and Other clogged pores:

  • Use a toner to shrink your pores - one with witch hazel, glycolic acid, or botanicals that shrink pores

  • Use salicylic pads that contain 2% salicylic acid or serum with the same concentration that stays in the skin

  • Gently massage the area with clogged pores during cleansing

  • Retinol is also an effective ingredient to keep pores clear. It can help reduce pore size while providing anti-aging benefits. Only use at night and good for oily or dry skin.

With a retinol product be sure to transition your skin by using it a couple of times a week for several weeks before using it every day.

  • Apply non-comedogenic face products. The term “non-comedogenic” means a product won’t clog pores. Look for cleansers, cosmetics, and moisturizers that say “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free”

  • Use an oil-free moisturizer after cleansing to avoid dry skin

  • Have a facial treatment to get extractions to gently release the “gunk”

If you have clogged pores then just washing your skin won’t clear the pores and once you get them cleared you’ll need maintenance to keep them cleaned out.

Many of the products/ingredients mentioned above can help with maintenance. A series of facials and/or chemical peels can be very beneficial too.

What Are Sebaceous Filaments

A sebaceous filament is a clogged pore, but not a blackhead. It is a tiny collection of sebum (oil) and dead skin cells around a hair follicle, which usually takes the form of a small, yellow to off-white hair-like stand when extracted.

These filaments are naturally occurring and are especially prominent on the nose. They typically occur if you have oily skin and large pores even if you no longer have break-out-prone skin.

They can also be part of a combination skin, T-zone oil, at any age. Commonly they are mistaken for blackheads.

Squeezing the sebaceous filaments can lead to unintentional harm such as scarring or inflammation. Although they help to channel the flow of oil within a given pore, allowing it to come to the surface, ingredients like salicylic or glycolic acid help to keep them clean.

Regular extractions from an esthetician also keep them clean and ultimately reduce the size of the pores.

For Women Only

If you need extractions the timing during your menstrual cycle can make a difference in the ease with which your pores can be cleared. For a typical 28-day cycle estrogen increases during days 1 to 7 keeping skin clear and extractions easier.

During days 15-28 estrogen levels begin to decline and blemishes potentially increase, peaking in the days just before menstruation.

In addition to this drop in estrogen, progesterone levels also increase and your follicles (along with tissue throughout your body) swell, causing pores to compress.

Pores are ordinarily the smallest approximately one week before menstruation begins and easiest to extract on days 1 to 7.

How to Prevent Clogged Pores

You can help prevent clogged pores by sticking to a skin care regimen that’s right for your age, skin type, and skin concerns. An esthetician can recommend the right products and treatments.

Other ways to prevent clogged pores include:

  • Avoid touching your skin with unwashed hands.

  • Don’t use oil on your face, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil.

  • Exfoliate your skin with gentle scrubbing.

  • Keep your skin clean and moisturized.

  • Never pick at or pop pimples.

  • Periodic facials or chemical peels

Why You Don’t Want to Squeeze Your Pores!

Damaging your skin by squeezing or picking can cause inflammation and discoloration.

Squeezing introduces bacteria, oil, and dirt from your hands into your pores, which can lead to more blackheads. Aggressive pressure can also lead to scarring and excessive squeezing of your pores can stretch them out and make them permanently larger in the long run.

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