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What Causes Red Pores?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated May 21, 2024
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Red pores are most commonly caused by acne but may be a result of several other skin conditions and injuries as well. A mild allergic reaction can lead to reddening of the skin, and this may be most pronounced around pores. Irritation from shaving or other sorts of contact can cause a similar reaction. Certain skin conditions, such as eczema and rosacea can also cause pores to take on a reddish appearance, although these conditions typically cause more widespread symptoms.

A high percentage of red pores are caused by acne. Bacteria and other irritants can become lodged in pores along with the natural oils produced by the body. This process can lead to irritation, inflammation, and mild infections. The body naturally responds to infection by directing the immune system to attack any pathogens present, and a certain amount of swelling and redness is typically associated with this immune response.

Good hygiene can reduce the frequency with which acne causes red pores. This condition cannot be entirely prevented, however. As a general rule, it is best to avoid using makeup to cover pores that are red from acne as this can cause further blockage of the pores and prevent the body from healing properly and rapidly. A variety of medical treatments are available for severe cases of acne.

Allergies are a product of the immune system, and allergic reactions can cause pores to become red and inflamed. A true allergic reaction occurs when the body mounts an immune response to a perceived threat that does not actually pose a danger. Pollen is one common allergen, which does not harm the body but can trigger an immune response. The presence of allergens in the pores can lead to redness and swelling.

Simple skin irritation can also cause red pores. In some cases, this may be the result of shaving or other sorts of physical contact that cause the pores to become red and irritated. In other cases, chemical irritants may cause pores to become red. Chemical sensitivity varies widely from person to person, and many different chemicals can cause irritation. A trial process may be needed to determine which chemical is acting as an irritant.

Some common skin ailments, such as eczema and rosacea, can also cause red pores. These conditions typically have other significant symptoms, however, and often cause bumps, reddening, and lesions to appear over larger areas of the skin. These conditions should be discussed with a dermatologist.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By giddion — On Feb 11, 2013

@orangey03 – I had the same temptation. I used to get red pores filled with pus after shaving, and I tried squeezing them.

However, this really hurts when the pores are in your bikini line or under your arms. The pain was enough to keep me from squeezing them in the future.

The few that I did squeeze became an even brighter red and swelled so much that it hurt to wear clothing on top of them. I've found that it's better just to put aloe vera gel on them and leave them alone.

Also, I've started changing out my disposable razor every two weeks. Shaving with a dull razor was causing the red pores under my arms. I started using an electric razor for my super sensitive bikini line, and I haven't had swollen red pores there since.

By seag47 — On Feb 10, 2013

I'm slightly allergic to dogs, and I've noticed that I get red, swollen pores on my wrists and forearms after petting one. These are tiny raised spots that form in a row, but I can still distinguish the individual pores.

Taking an antihistamine calms the reaction. Also, washing my arm helps the pores return to normal color and size before long.

By orangey03 — On Feb 10, 2013

I get red pores on my face whenever I squeeze a pimple. Once a bump comes to a white head, I just can't resist popping it.

I want to get the pus out so that it can return to normal size. However, squeezing the bump makes the pore get larger and redder than it was in the beginning!

I've tried using benzoyl peroxide cream on spots like this, but I don't have the patience for them to fully remove the pimples. I always wind up making them redder than ever.

By cloudel — On Feb 09, 2013

I believe that my makeup was actually causing my acne and red pores years ago. Ironically, the acne was the reason I felt I had to wear such heavy makeup.

I got a foundation with the heaviest coverage available, and I also used a powder to cut down on the shine. I used concealer on my red pores, and this blocked them further.

It took several visits to a dermatologist for chemical peels, antibiotics, and expensive anti-acne gel to clear everything up. Once my skin recovered, I started using a water-based foundation, and it didn't clog my pores at all.

It's hard to wear little to no makeup when you already have red irritated pores, though. What I should have done was visit the dermatologist before I ever started wearing such thick makeup, and I could have gotten the problem under control before it worsened.

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