09 June 2021

How to Deal With Subclinical Acne

If you Google how to get rid of pesky bumps, you may come across the term "subclinical acne." It is used to characterize what physicians term "comedonal acne".

The initial stage, normally on the face, typically on the forehead of a pimple, is this sort of bump. Not to be mistaken for deeper cystic acne, which can also conceal under your skin, subclinical or comedonal acne is often skin-colored or red and does not yet appear in full form.

What exactly is subclinical acne?

This type of acne may indicate that your skin is unhappy. Subclinical, also referred to as "not detectable," means that, while it may not look like a full-blown breakout and is less inflammatory, the underlying cause is the same.

Michele Green, MD from RealSself, said, "Subclinical acne is superficial acne just under the skin. “Comedonal acne, also known as hormonal acne, is caused by hormones, heredity, and blocked pores from dead skin, dirt, and bacteria.”

If these little bumps are causing you concern, remember to tackle the underlying problem — whether it's oily skin, a buildup of dead skin cells, hormones, or something else completely — rather than looking for temporary fix.

“When it comes to treating acne, we aim to avoid new blemishes rather than chasing old ones around.”

But it doesn't mean there aren't solutions to get rid of the glitches.

Subclinical acne expert advise

The best method to treat and prevent subclinical acne, according to Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, medical director of Mudgil Dermatology, is to go back to fundamentals.

“A proper hygiene routine is essential,” adds Mudgil. He recommends cleaning your face twice a day with a mild cleanser and only using items labeled as "non-comedogenic" (sunscreen, cosmetics, moisturizers).

In order to cure and prevent clogged pores, Mudgil recommends using retinoid creams (except when pregnant or breastfeeding) as well as products containing benzoyl peroxide.

Your cosmetics or skincare products may also be contributing to your subclinical acne, so try to keep your skin as product-free as possible (though never without high SPF sunscreen, of course).

Treating subclinical acne

"Salicylic acid or beta hydroxy acid (BHA) may be included in the first home treatment for clogged pores, which may give exfoliation and assist prevent and treat obstructed pores," adds Lortscher.

“A retinoid is the best treatment for comedones, whether they are visible or not. The active component in acne topicals such as Retin-A is tretinoin, a prescription retinoid. By regulating the life cycle of the cells that line the pore opening, they reduce the production of microcomedones (or early blocked pores).”

Simply said, fewer dead skin cells in your pores equals less accumulation, which means less subclinical acne and better skin overall. Lortscher says that tretinoin is also anti-inflammatory, thus it is helpful for many sorts of acne treatments.

Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to prescription medicine, but there are still solutions for you if you want to cleanse your skin organically or prevent any potential negative effects from harsher solutions.

There are over-the-counter products that contain BHAs, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, niacimide, and azelaic acid. Adapalene 0.1 percent gel, which is accessible at the drugstore, is a popular option in retinoids. Differin and La Roche-Posay are two well-known brands.

Just be careful not to overuse it and dry up your skin. Even oily and acne-prone skin need the use of a moisturizer (and can start producing more oil if drying out). Simply choose a lighter or gel-based variant.

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