Blackheads are undoubtedly one of the most frustrating forms of acne. Because they’re rooted deep in the pores, they can be difficult to remove in a safe and effective way. The best ways to treat them, and asked them to provide their top product recommendations. Perhaps the most important tip? Blackheads (and visible pores in general) are completely normal, and it’s impossible to totally prevent them.
WHAT ARE BLACKHEADS?
Before you go about trying to rid your skin of blackheads, it helps to first understand what they actually are. “Blackheads are just an oxidized mix of oil and dead skin cells that are sitting in pores, [and] the exposure to air is what causes them to oxidize and turn black.
The technical name for a blackhead is open comedones (and someone is the scientific term for an acne lesion). There are two different types of comedones: open (blackheads) and closed (whiteheads). Blackheads are characterized by a dilated opening of a hair follicle, caused by the build-up of sebum, which is oil. Bacteria — the primary bacteria responsible for causing acne — and inflammation.
WHAT CAUSES BLACKHEADS??
Some factors can increase the chance of developing blackheads. Age and hormonal changes are important factors. Like other symptoms of acne, blackheads are most common during puberty, when the change in hormone levels triggers a spike in sebum production. However, they can appear at any age.
Androgen, the male sex hormone, triggers the greater secretion of sebum and a higher turnover of skin cells around puberty. Both boys and girls experience higher levels of androgens during adolescence.
After puberty, hormonal changes related to menstruation, pregnancy, and the use of birth control pills can also bring on blackheads in women.
Overproduction of skin cells by the body can cause blackheads.
Other factors include:
- the blocking or covering pores by cosmetics and clothing
- heavy sweating
- shaving and other activities that open the hair follicles
- high humidity and grease in the immediate environment
- some health conditions, such as stress, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- medications that encourage rapid skin cell turnover
- use of some steroid-based drugs, such as corticosteroids
Contrary to popular belief, poor hygiene does not directly cause blackheads. Excessive scrubbing in an attempt to remove them can make them worse.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
If your skin has clogged hair follicles then you are likely to suffer from the condition of blackheads. Blackheads are a milder form of acne and appear on the skin as bumps or lesions. Although blackheads commonly develop on the face they can also appear on the arms, shoulders, back, neck and chest.
Our skin is composed of a sebaceous gland which produces oil called sebum, to keep our skin soft. The oil is responsible for lubricating your skin. When you sweat this oil gets secreted along with the sweat. Also, when you sweat the accumulated dirt particles, bacteria and oil gets removed from the skin. There are numerous hair follicles on your skin. When the hair follicle gets clogged by the dust, dead skin cells, or oil at the opening, it forms a bump or lesion which is called a blackhead. Usually, this bump opens up and is exposed to the air. When it continues to remain closed, it is called a whitehead. Blackheads are basically a type of comedo which is a clogged hair follicle or a pore.
The factors that play into the formation of blackheads are over-production of oil by the sebaceous glands, hormonal changes (especially hormonal changes that teens undergo when they hit puberty or women undergo during their menstruation cycle), taking drugs, excessive sweating, the buildup of bacteria on the skin and having an unhealthy diet.
There are a number of medical treatment methods that you can opt for in order to remedy your blackhead problem. The doctor may prescribe a strong topical medication like an ointment or cream. Usually, the topical medications are made from ingredients such as tazarotene, tretinoin, adapalene and vitamin A. Certain topical medications which are antibiotic in nature help to destroy the bacteria that is trapped within the blackheads. The topical creams and ointments also promote the growth of new cells. Certain blackheads require stronger antibiotics in order to kill the bacteria. In such cases oral medications are prescribed.
Some patients opt for laser or light therapies. These therapies treat the problem of blackheads at the root level. The treatment focuses on the deep pockets of oil that lead to formation of comedo’s or blackheads. The Laser or light therapy cuts down the production of oil and destroys the bacteria contained inside the blackhead.
Patients are strongly ill-advised to squeeze out the blackheads. Instead dermatologists recommend the extraction process to be carried out with the help of sterile devices and under expert observation. This method is known as blackhead extraction and involves a process where the dermatologist will squeeze the bacteroia and oil out the clogged pore or hair follicle.