Causes and Treatments of Enlarged Pores
Dr. Perricone Discusses

Causes and Treatments of Enlarged Pores

Enlarged pores are a common complaint of many of my patients, readers and viewers. Therefore, I have devoted a lot of research time in the laboratory to discover solutions that really work.

Pore Size & Nutrigenomics

Many of my patients ask me if pore size is influenced by genetics. Yes, it can be. Hormones also play a role. However, there is a ray of hope and it lies in the emerging field of study known as Nutrigenomics.

The word nutrigenomics is a combination of ‘nutrition' and ‘genomics'. Together, they describe a field that focuses on the relationship between diet and gene expression. Nutrigenomic research investigates questions such as how food influences gene expression, and how genes influence the way individuals absorb and metabolize different types of nutrients.

Turn Your Genes On

Using Nutrigenomics, we can actually change the way genes are expressed and how that information is transmitted, simply by manipulating different aspects of our diet and lifestyle. For example, we know that by eating many of the foods included in my anti-inflammatory diet, we can:

1. Switch on protective genes, and
2. Switch off genes that may have a negative effect on our health.

By eating anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding pro-inflammatory foods we can help treat skin problems from the inside out.

Blood Sugar Basics

When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise, whether from a poor diet or from stress, we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals at the cellular level. This causes inflammatory diseases such as acne and all of its signs, such as enlarged pores, clogged pores and blemishes, to worsen dramatically. Stress is another culprit, which can also precipitate acne outbreaks.

Stress is another culprit, which can also precipitate acne outbreaks.

A Clean Slate

To prepare skin for topical treatments, it is vitally important to thoroughly cleanse your face in the morning and evening to eliminate any debris, which, if left on skin, will prevent topicals from doing their job. I recommend cleansing with a cleanser that contains anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as alpha lipoic acid or vitamin c ester.

Avoid Thinning Skin

As many of you may know, I recommend that patients avoid harsh scrubs and other more extreme treatments, as these can be very pro-inflammatory and damaging to the skin, thinning it over time. However, by eliminating surface debris, dead skin cells and makeup, skin will look and feel younger, healthier, porcelain-smooth and positively glowing. If you do choose to exfoliate, opt for ingredients such as glycolic acid or salmon roe enzyme, which will not abrade the skin.

Topicals to the Rescue

Alpha lipoic acid is unsurpassed at tightening pores that have become enlarged from heredity, sun damage, aging or overactive oil glands. DMAE redefines skin's texture, improving the appearance of overall tone. I recommend a toner followed by a topical treatment containing both ingredients.

Alpha Lipoic and Oil Production

When alpha lipoic acid is abundant in the cellular environment, the cell is better able to produce energy, and conduct critical functions, including cellular repair. This enhanced energy production also helps the cell resist the destructive effects of oxidative stress and inflammation in the skin's sebaceous (oil-producing) glands. This is particularly important to acne patients, whose sebaceous glands do not function optimally. I always recommend that acne patients take alpha lipoic supplements and apply a topical lotion that contains alpha lipoic acid.

My Theory

To sum up, alpha lipoic acid can increase energy levels in the cell. Oil glands that have low energy produce abnormal ratios of important oils that go to the surface of the skin. Scientists know when this proportion of oils is not perfect, the pores begin to clog. It is my theory that alpha lipoic acid increases energy production in the oil gland, normalizing the oils that are secreted, thereby normalizing pore size. Without abnormal oils clogging and stretching the pores, these tiny openings gradually clear until they are invisible to the eye.

Toning Effects of DMAE

DMAE is also of great help as it tightens and tones the skin, helping to decrease the appearance of large pores. When DMAE is applied daily, even patients with the largest pores develop a porcelain-like appearance.


As mentioned, it is very important for you to follow the anti-inflammatory diet to control excess oil and stop blackheads, breakouts, whiteheads and clogged pores before they form. This means controlling you blood sugar and insulin levels. You do this by avoiding sugary, starchy foods.

Cold water fish that is high in omega 3 essential fatty acids act as natural anti-inflammatories and are great for the skin. This includes wild salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, etc. They also reduce stress chemicals such as cortisol which can worsen acne and all of its accompanying signs and symptoms.

Eating foods rich in Vitamin B 2 to also helps to reduce stress. These include spinach, almonds, eggs and mushrooms.

In addition to the omega 3's, add omega 6 essential fatty acid supplements - such as borage oil and evening primrose oil, which are rich in linoleic acid. Acne patients have a low concentration of linoleic acid in their sebum, and the levels decrease as the acne increases.

While it's not possible to actually shrink pores, we have seen dramatic results in their appearance with a combination of dietary changes and topical treatments outlined here.

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