Most every person alive has to deal with acne and blackheads at some point of their lives. They are part of the natural order of your skin, but they are unsightly and when you see them on your face, you know it’s time to act. To understand the best ways to get rid of blackheads, it’s crucial to comprehend what blackheads are and exactly what triggers them.
Blackheads: What Are They?
Blackheads typically begin with stopped up hair follicles (a.k.a pores). There are countless hair follicles on your body, including on your face. Each of these follicles includes one hair and a sebaceous gland that produces an oil (sebum) that keeps your skin and soft. If your skin doesn’t effectively shed dead skin cells, they, along with oil, can collect at the opening of the hair follicle and form a plug that pushes to the surface area and forms a bump called a comedone.
If the bump over the clogged pore stays closed, the bump is called a whitehead. A blackhead happens when the skin around the bump opens and air gets in. This causes the oil to turn gray or black, thus developing what we refer to as a blackhead. Unlike pimples, blackheads are flat, because they are not caused by an infection in the same way that a pimple is.
Causes of Blackheads
There are several reasons why blackheads appear on your face. Here are the most frequent ones:
- Excess production of sebum in hair follicles.
- Overgrowth of skin cells.
- Dead skin cells are not effectively shed by the skin, thus irritating hair follicles.
- Hormonal changes, such as puberty, menstruation and pregnancy, that increase the production of sebum and skin oil.
- Excess of p. acnes (propionibacterium acnes) on the skin.
As stated above, blackheads are a result of abnormal sebum secretion, often combined with overgrowth of skin cells, resulting in blocked pores. While we understand this process, the reasons for excess sebum production are less clear. Hormone modification during puberty is the most typical trigger for excess sebum production. Less typical are changes during menstrual durations, pregnancy and contraceptive pill. The use of some drugs and medications can also lead to an increase in blackheads.
How to Prevent Blackheads
Blackheads are not painful or medically dangerous. They are, however, unsightly and can really ruin your day. This is especially true if you care about your appearance and the health of your skin. Blackheads are treatable, but it’s always best to start with prevention. Here are a few tips to prevent blackheads before they even start:
- Wash your face regularly, morning and night, with an antibacterial wash. It will help remove the buildup of oil, bacteria, makeup and other pore clogging substances.
- Although washing your face is very important, make sure not to over wash, because it can cause your skin to produce excess oil.
- Wash your hair every day, especially if it’s oily. Hair oils can transfer on to the skin and cause your pores to become clogged.
- Choose oil-free products when it comes to creams, makeup, and sunblock. You can use foundations with sunblock like Dermacol, too. This will prevent your products from assisting in the buildup of oil and won’t clog your pores.
- Exfoliate regularly. Exfoliation scrubs and masks such as the Black Mask help the skin shed dead skin cells that can otherwise buildup and clog your pores.
How to Treat Blackheads
Once you have blackheads, they can be treated in different ways. You can visit your dermatologist which will advise you the proper treatment, but note that these treatments can be very expensive. There are also several known and dermatologist recommended treatments that you can do from the comfort of your own home. These include:
- Over-The Counter Treatments: There are many treatments that you can purchase to clear up your acne and blackheads. Whether in gel or cream forms, these usually contain salicylic acid, resorcinol, and benzoyl peroxide. Their effectiveness is varied and will depend on several factors, including the composition of your skin.
- Blackhead Removal Masks: These are extremely popular these days and used by millions of women all over the world. If you use a high-quality product, they are extremely effective and simple to use. You simply wash your face, place the mask on your skin, wait 20 to 30 minutes, and then remove it along with dead skin cells, blackheads, and whiteheads. If you would like to learn more about one of the highest quality and most effective black masks, click here.
- Prescription Medications: You may opt for prescription medications from your doctor or dermatologist. These medications will probably contain forms of vitamin A, which will keep your hair follicles unplugged and promote rapid skin cell turnover. These medications are very strong and can leave your skin vulnerable, especially to sunlight.
- Manual Removal: A dermatologist may also go in and remove blackheads manually. They have specialized tools and hygienic practices, so don’t try this at home or you may end up causing an infection.
- Microdermabrasion: This treatment involves the use of a minimally abrasive instrument to gently sand your skin, thus removing the thicker, uneven outer layer. This technique helps to remove old skin cells and promotes cell turnover and the production of collagen, leaving you with cleaner, more even and rejuvenated skin.
- Chemical Peels: Chemical peels involve the application of a strong chemical solution to the skin in order to remove the top layers of the skin, clogs and dead skin cells. Some men and women experience some success with at-home facial peelings, but the most effective results occur in a clinical procedure.
- Laser and Light Therapy: They involve the use tiny beams of intense light to shrink sebaceous glands and thus decrease oil production in the skin and to 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. You may experience some pain, redness, and sensitivity to sunlight. The cost can also be prohibitive to some.
Natural hormonal modifications in the body cause excess skin oil, blocked pores and this the appearance of blackheads. It is nearly impossible to go through life without a couple of blackheads. But now you are better equipped to fight them off and reveal your most beautiful you.