Open Pores

Skin is the largest organ of the body. It contains millions of pores, even if most of them are not visible to the human eye. All of these pores are open, allowing the skin to “breathe.” Each pore contains a hair follicle. Each pore also contains sebaceous (oil) glands that make an oil called sebum.

The sebaceous glands are most abundant in the pores on your face, back, chest, and groin. Hormones play a role in stimulating these glands in order to produce more abundant quantities of sebum. That’s why the pores on your face, most specifically those on your nose, forehead, and cheeks, may appear larger than they do on other areas of your body.

Any skin type, whether it’s oily, normal, or dry, can take on the appearance of having large, open pores. These may give your skin a dull appearance, particularly if they’re clogged with dirt, bacteria, oil, or dead skin cells.

While not a medical concern, open pores can be a cosmetic issue for some people who do not like the way their skin looks. In adolescents, and in adults who are prone to acne, open pores may become clogged, turning into blackheads or whiteheads. Aging skin containing less collagen may also take on the appearance of having larger, open pores, which might also cause concern.


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Pores cannot be opened or closed. They also cannot be made smaller. Often, when people say they wish to open their pores, what they’re referring to is a deep cleaning to remove excess oil and debris. This may make open pores look as if they’ve shrunk or closed.

Causes of large-looking open pores

There are several causes of large-looking open pores. They include:

  • high levels of oil (sebum) production
  • reduced elasticity around pores
  • thick hair follicles
  • genetics or heredity
  • reduction of collagen production in skin, caused by aging
  • sun damage or overexposure to the sun

Preventive skin care

You can’t change your heredity or your age, but you can adopt a proactive skin care routine geared toward reducing the appearance of open pores. Steps include:

  • Keep your skin clean with daily exfoliation. You can use products made for this purpose or go low-tech with a warm washcloth followed by an astringent, such as witch hazel.
  • Keep your skin protected from the sun by wearing sunscreen every day.
  • Opt for noncomedogenic skin care products that don’t clog pores.
  • Always moisturize your skin, even if it’s oily. There are moisturizers designed specifically for this skin type
  • Use collagen-boosting products that contain antioxidants, which may also be beneficial for keeping your skin healthy


Open pores on your cheeks, nose, and forehead can appear larger as you age, or when your pores are clogged. Keeping skin clean, and avoiding the sun, are two of the best ways you can reduce the appearance of open pores. While nothing actually opens or closes pores, treatments are available that can make them look smaller, giving you the appearance of healthier and more vibrant skin.