What Are Blackheads?
Blackheads are a type of acne (known as comedones in dermatology) that occurs when dead skin cells and excess oil (sebum) clog the pores on the skin's surface. Unlike whitehead pimples, which cause blemishes within closed pores, blackheads form in open pores or hair follicles due to the oxidation of impurities within the pore, giving them a dark color. People with oily skin are more likely to develop blackheads.
How to Prevent Blackheads
Follow these guidelines to avoid breakouts and blackheads in the first place:
1. Consult your dermatologist regarding noncomedogenic products. Your makeup, moisturizer, or sunscreen could be the source of your clogged skin. Consult your dermatologist about switching to oil-free, noncomedogenic products.
2. Do not touch your face. Touching or picking at your face spreads bacteria and can result in acne-prone skin breakouts, scarring, and hyperpigmentation.
3. Change your pillowcase on a regular basis. Pillowcases are a breeding ground for dirt and bacteria. To limit external pollutants, use clean pillowcases as often as possible, and avoid sleeping in your makeup.
4. Maintain a consistent skincare routine. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser according to your skin-care routine to avoid buildup. Wash your face regularly to remove buildup, such as sweat from a long workout, makeup, dirt, or sunscreen.
5. Use light exfoliation. Unclog pores with non-abrasive cleansers and your fingers. Washcloths and harsh scrubs should be avoided as they can irritate the skin.
How to Get Rid of Blackheads
If you have stubborn blackheads, you can use over-the-counter products to treat them before seeing a dermatologist. Try one of the following methods to remove blackheads:
1. Chemical peels containing AHAs and BHAs: Chemical exfoliation is used by alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to break down sebum and dead skin cells in your pores. Salicylic acid is the most widely available BHA and is frequently the first treatment dermatologists recommend. You can also opt for a stronger chemical peel that contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, or citric acid.
2. Face masks: A clay or charcoal mask improves the appearance of your skin by drawing impurities from your pores as it dries. They work especially well if you have oily skin. If you have dry skin, you should avoid them because they can strip away moisture.
3. Salicylic acid: Treat blackheads with a gel cleanser containing salicylic acid, dermatologists' preferred BHA for breaking down excess oil and dead skin cells through chemical exfoliation. Use it once a day to avoid dryness, and discontinue use if irritation occurs.
4. Retinoids applied topically: Retinol creams use the power of Vitamin A to unclog pores and promote cell turnover. Stronger retinoids typically require a doctor's prescription, though low concentrations of tretinoin are available over the counter. Because retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, use them at night and wear sunscreen during the day. Discover the distinctions between retinol and retinoid.
5. Exfoliate with a skin brush and a gentle face wash: Exfoliating with a skin brush and a gentle face wash removes dead skin cells. If you have sensitive skin, avoid this method and instead use a high-quality soft brush. After using a skin brush, always moisturize.
If your blackheads persist, consult your doctor. To improve your skin, they may use a professional extractor or prescribe oral medication and medicated creams.
5 Blackhead Treatments to Avoid
Products that work on other skin issues may not work on blackheads. Avoid the following ineffective blackhead treatments:
1. Manual extractions: Attempting to extract blackheads manually may aggravate your skin. Always seek professional extraction from a dermatologist.
2. Benzoyl peroxide: Because it reduces inflammation and kills bacteria, benzoyl peroxide is an effective treatment for whitehead pimples. Because blackheads do not swell or involve bacteria, benzoyl peroxide will not help them.
3. Harsh scrubs: Exfoliating too much damages your skin, causing it to produce more oil and exacerbating the conditions that cause blackheads. Always use gentle exfoliators and only exfoliate twice or three times per week.
4. Pore strips: Pore strips remove some impurities, but they also remove the good. Pore strips can strip your natural oils and hair follicles, leaving your skin dry and itchy.
5. Suction devices: Many products claim to "suck" clogged pores. Suction devices can cause long-term discoloration of your facial skin by breaking capillaries. Any method you use to treat your blackheads should be gentle.