A comedo is a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. Keratin (skin debris) combines with oil to block the follicle. A comedo can be open (blackhead) or closed by skin (whitehead), and occur with or without acne. The word “comedo” comes from the Latin “comedere”, meaning “to eat up”, and was historically used to describe parasitic worms; in modern medical terminology, it is used to suggest the worm-like appearance of the expressed material.
The chronic inflammatory condition that usually includes both comedones and inflamed papules and pustules (pimples) is called acne. Infection causes inflammation and the development of pus. Whether a skin condition classifies as acne depends on the amount of comedones and infection.
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