Acne can show up in many different forms. One of those forms of acne is a blackhead. These are less obvious that whiteheads or pimples, but can be very annoying, and keep skin from looking clear. They appear, usually around the T-zone of your face, looking like little black dots, stuck inside your pores.
What are blackheads?
Blackheads, which are also called open comedones, are hair follicles that are larger than normal. Then become that way by being filled with dead skin cells and excess oil. The oil and the dead skin cells go through a process that causes oxidation of the pigment in skin. This is what accounts for its dark color, also giving it the name, “blackhead.” They are acne in its first stage, before bacteria becomes clogged in the pore, and causes an infection that creates a pimple.
What causes blackheads?
People with any skin type can experience blackheads, but people with oily skin are more likely to have them. As with most acne, they usually start to show up on skin after adolescence, when hormones cause oil glands in skin to start overpproducing. This overproduction causes the oil in skin to clog and block pores.
But blackheads are not only caused by overproduction of oil in the skin; skin that is not cleaned well can cause pores to become clogged with dirt; dead skin cells can also clog pores, which causes oil, even if it is not being overproduced, to become trapped and clog pores. Using too much sunscreen, lotion, or makeup can also lead to pores becoming clogged, as they are blocked by too much product.
Allowing skin to become overly dry can also cause blackheads for two reasons. The first is that overly dry skin tends to have an excess of dead skin cells, which end up blocking pores. The other way is that when skin is dry, oil production will increase to make up for the dryness. So if you allow skin to become dried out and flaky, you will end up with excess oil being produced, while dry and dead skin cells block your pores.
How do I get rid of blackheads?
Blackheads can be extracted; however, to avoid infection, you have to be careful and make sure you have as clean an environment as possible. The first step is to steam your skin for several minutes, this will open up pores. You can do this by putting your face over a bowl, or pot of steaming water, (being careful to not burn yourself) and place a towel over your head to keep in heat and steam. Many drug and beauty stores carry pore extractors, these can be used to work blackheads out of pores.
How do I prevent blackheads?
Blackhead prevention comes down to most of the same steps that are used to prevent acne. Depending on the severity of your acne, you will choose more or less aggressive options. The main ways to keep your skin blackhead free is to make sure that you are keeping oil and dirt in check; exfoliation is also key, this will keep dead skin cells out of your pores, and also help work free anything that is in the process of clogging pores. Additionally, make sure you are using appropriate amounts of lotions and make-up, and make sure that anything you are using is oil-free and noncomedogenic. Using cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help accelerate the rate that skin cells turn over, helping to keep pores clear.