What Are Blackheads And How To Get Rid Of Them?

GlowingChelsyGlowingChelsy
Apr. 30, 2020
It might surprise you to learn that blackheads are a type of acne. Although not as serious as other forms of the condition, they can still be unpleasant to deal with.
As with any skin disorder, the journey to a clear complexion begins with information. You need to know the facts to come up with an appropriate treatment plan. 
We answer the questions: what are blackheads, and how do you get rid of them? 
What Are Blackheads?
“Blackhead” is the common name for open comedones. As with other varieties of acne, these eruptions are the result of blocked hair follicles or pores. 
The material trapped in the pore is usually semisolid. This is in contrast to liquid, like with pimple discharge, or solid, as with nodules. 
Once the blockage inside the pore breaks to the surface of your skin, it reacts with the air, oxidizing and turning dark brown or black. 
These comedones typically manifest in the following areas:
  • Face.
  • Shoulders.
  • Arms.
  • Chest.
  • Back. 
What Causes Blackheads?
The same factors that play a role in other blemishes developing can also provoke blackheads. These are the five main culprits: 
1. Too Much Sebum 
Sebum is an oily substance your skin produces to protect itself. If your sebaceous glands go into overdrive, this oil can get trapped in your pores and block them. 
The blockage then manifests as blackheads or other lesions such as whiteheads and pimples. Excess sebum is one of the major culprits behind all sorts of blemishes.
2. Bacteria
Your skin’s surface is rife with bacteria, most of which are harmless—unless they have the opportunity to proliferate beneath the skin. 
Open comedones can allow the entry of bacteria. Propionibacterium acnes is one of the most frequent perpetrators.
3. Dirt and Debris
Sebum isn’t the only substance that can clog a hair follicle. Dead skin cells, cosmetics, and creams can enter your pores to block them. 
Outside pollutants can also collect on your skin. For example, individuals who work certain jobs are more likely to deal with dirt buildup. For instance, working in a kitchen with fry vats, or manual labor outdoors. 
4. Hormonal Changes
Hormonal fluctuations can affect all facets of your well-being, including your skin. 
That’s the reason why acne—blackheads included—is so rampant in adolescents. 
Other hormonal disorders or imbalances beyond puberty can also provoke blackheads. 
Examples include thyroid diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and insulin resistance: they’re all linked to acne. In men and women alike, high androgen levels are associated with more severe lesions.
5. Medications 
The side effects of some medications can include a sudden manifestation of acne, or worsen an existing case.
Corticosteroids, thyroid hormones, and certain antibiotics can all provoke blackheads. 
Lithium, which treats psychiatric disorders, and large doses of vitamin B12, can also encourage acne.
How to Treat Blackheads
As they’re a milder form of acne, treatment methods are unique. You shouldn’t use the same strategies as for whiteheads, pustules, pimples, etc.
Topical treatments are less likely to be effective, and exfoliants may remove surface debris but are rarely capable of breaking down the mass that’s clogging the pore. 
These solutions are best as a preventative rather than a cure. Let’s discuss how to get rid of blackheads: we share helpful techniques. 
1. Physical Removal 
The blockages in your pores can be manually removed to clear it. Your dermatologist or a qualified cosmetologist is equipped to perform the extraction.
A special tool applies pressure around the clogged pore. The semisolid mass (which is the blackhead) is then pushed out by force and removed once it has fully emerged. 
If done correctly, this method guarantees the entire clog is taken out. Afterward, the skin is cleansed to prevent a recurrence. 
2. Masks 
Masks can be an appropriate over-the-counter treatment if they’re made with the right ingredients. Certain compounds such as clay can break down debris on the surface of the skin or draw out minor blockages.
This method is most successful on minor, newer blackheads as they’re probably less solid than well-established as older ones. 
3. Microdermabrasion 
This cosmetic procedure is minimally invasive. It can be done by a skin professional or your dermatologist. It works on acne and improves the texture and appearance of your complexion.
An abrasive tool is drawn over the skin; removing the outermost layer. As this mild wound heals, a new layer of skin forms. As long as the clog isn’t deep, microdermabrasion should get rid of blackheads.
4. Laser or Light Therapy 
Laser or light therapies are a popular treatment for acne and can be done by any qualified professional. As with microdermabrasion, it isn’t invasive. 
Photopneumatic therapy is effective for blackheads. An intense pulsed light (IPL) is applied to the skin, along with a gentle vacuum. As the light breaks down the blockages, the vacuum suctions them away.
5. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels involve exfoliation through powerful chemicals. The agent “peels” off the top layer of the skin where lesions, clogs, or scars are. 
Much like microdermabrasion, the skin heals, in better condition than it was before. 
Conclusion
Blackheads are not inflammatory, which means you’re unlikely to experience pain, discharge, or infection. Still, they are unsightly and it’s only natural to want a clear complexion.
Fortunately, these lesions are usually easier to treat than other acne types. Prevent open comedones by washing your face and exfoliating regularly. Always opt for non-comedogenic products to avoid oily skin.
References:
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279211/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20082943
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2585707/
  • https://www.aad.org/media/stats-numbers
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19327604
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21076799
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4565837/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6408631/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3900370/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3366450/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22585103
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535383/
  • https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/derm-treat/lasers-lights
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5396829/
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