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Enlarged pores

Author: Lydia Chan, Dermatology Registrar, Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand. Editor-in-Chief: Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Hamilton, New Zealand. Copy editor: Maria McGivern. March 2017.

Table of contents

What are enlarged pores?

Enlarged pores are depressions in the facial skin surface that contain one or more openings to the ducts carrying sweat and oil from their respective eccrine glands and sebaceous glands.

Enlarged pores

Who gets enlarged pores?

Enlarged pores can be seen at all ages and in all ethnic groups. Certain ethnic groups may have larger pores, particularly those of African and Indian ancestry. Pores often appear larger with age.

There are conflicting data on whether men or women are more prone to large pores. In women, pore size may fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, with the largest pore size occurring during ovulation.

What causes enlarged pores?

Factors that may lead to enlarged pores include:

  • Increased sebum production
  • Hair follicle size
  • Use of comedogenic products
  • Loss of skin elasticity with age
  • Sun damage.

Acne is associated with enlarged pores — when sometimes open comedones (blackheads) can be seen within a pore. Inflammatory acne may cause enlarged pores through weakening sebaceous gland and hair follicle openings, making them more prone to blockage.

What is the treatment for enlarged pores?

Treatments that focus on preventing and shrinking large pores are not very effective. They include:

  • Avoidance of skin creams that induce blackheads and whiteheads
  • Weight loss (which is reported to reduce sebum production)
  • Chemical peels
  • Topical nicotinamide
  • Plant-derived copper chlorophyllin complexes
  • L-carnitine
  • Topical retinoids.

Oral treatments that are used for acne may also help. These include:

Physical treatments targeting the sebaceous glands may help enlarged pores. These include:



  • Dong J, Lanoue J, Goldenberg G. Enlarged facial pores: an update on treatments. Cutis 2016; 98: 33–36. Journal
  • Flament F, Francois G, Qiu H, et al. Facial skin pores: a multiethnic study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol 2015; 8: 85–93. DOI: 10.2147/CCID.S74401. PubMed Central
  • Lee SJ, Seok J, Jeong SY, Park KY, Li K, Seo SJ. Facial pores: definition, causes, and treatment options. Dermatol Surg 2016; 42: 277–285. DOI: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000000657. ResearchGate

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