What are blackheads?
What are blackheads?
Blackheads are a mild type of acne that usually form on the face, but they can also appear on the following body parts:
Acne affects nearly 50 million Americans and is the most common skin disorder in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Blackheads form when a clog or plug develops in the opening of hair follicles in your skin. Each follicle contains one hair and a sebaceous gland that produces oil. This oil, called sebum, helps keep your skin soft. Dead skin cells and oils collect in the opening to the skin follicle, producing a bump called a comedo. If the skin over the bump stays closed, the bump is called a whitehead. When the skin over the bump opens, exposure to the air causes it to look black and a blackhead forms.
Some factors can increase your chances of developing acne and blackheads, including:
- producing too much body oil
- the buildup of the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on the skin
- irritation of the hair follicles when dead skins cells don’t shed on a regular basis
- undergoing hormonal changes that cause an increase in oil production during the teen years, during menstruation, or while taking birth control pills
- taking certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, lithium, or androgens
Some people believe that what you eat or drink can affect acne. Dairy products and foods that increase blood sugar levels, such as carbohydrates, may play a part in triggering acne, but researchers aren’t convinced that there’s a strong connection.
Because of their dark color, blackheads are easy to spot on the skin. They’re slightly raised, although they aren’t painful because they aren’t inflamed like pimples. Pimples form when bacteria invade the blockage in the hair follicle, causing redness and inflammation.
Dermatologists or specially trained skin care professionals use a special instrument called a round loop extractor to remove the plug causing the blackhead. After a small opening is made in the plug, the doctor applies pressure with the extractor to remove the clog.
Chemical peels also remove clogs and get rid of the dead skins cells that contribute to blackheads. During a peel, a strong chemical solution is applied to the skin. Over time, the top layers of the skin peel off, revealing smoother skin underneath. Mild peels are available over the counter, while stronger peels are performed by dermatologists or other skincare professionals.
Laser and light therapy
Laser and light therapies use tiny beams of intense light to decrease oil production or kill bacteria. Both lasers and light beams reach below the surface of the skin to treat blackheads and acne without damaging the top layers of the skin.
how can blackheads be prevented?
You can prevent blackheads without spending a lot of money by trying a few of the following ideas:
Wash your face when you wake up and before you go to bed to remove oil buildup. Washing more than twice each day can irritate your skin and make your acne worse. Use a gentle cleanser that doesn’t make your skin red or irritated. Some acne cleansing products have antibacterial ingredients that kill P. acnes bacteria.
Consider washing your hair every day, too, particularly if it’s oily. Hair oils can contribute to clogged pores. It’s also important to wash your face after you eat oily foods such as pizza, because oil from these foods can clog pores.
Use oil-free products
Any product that contains oil can contribute to new blackheads. Choose oil-free or noncomedogenic makeup, lotions, and sunscreens to avoid making your problem worse.
Try an exfoliating product
Exfoliating scrubs and masks remove dead skin cells from your face and can help reduce blackheads. Look for products that don’t irritate your skin.