What Are Blackheads?

by | Nov 29, 2019 | Acne, Blog, Cosmetic, skincare

blackhead how do you remove them?

Hands of cosmetician, blackhead remover. Female face, beauty clinic.


Acne can form in many different ways and we can all suffer at any time in our life. Family members, friends and yes, celebrities will all know someone or will have suffered from acne themselves. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that over 50 million people suffer from acne and it’s the most common skin disease in the US – you are not alone!

As we try to bring you more knowledge on the topic, today we’re going to focus on ‘blackheads’  – at this point we’re here to remind you that you can check any spots or skin lesions using our free AI technology– it can give you an immediate, accurate answer in order to help you better understand your skin.

Now, onto Blackheads…

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What Are Blackheads?

Blackheads are small bumps that appear on the skin due to clogged hair follicles. Blackheads are a mild form of acne and they usually appear on the face. You may also see acne on the Back, Chest, Neck, Arms and Shoulders.

Put simply, they’re called ‘Blackheads’ because the surface looks dark or black.

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What causes Blackheads?

Firstly lets look at the factors, there are various reasons that a blackhead might form. Such as:

  • producing too much body oil
  • the buildup of the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on the skin
  • hair follicles irritation 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

The blackhead forms when the hair follicle opening begins to clog up. Each follicle contains a hair and sebaceous gland that produce oil. This oil is called sebum and helps keep your skin soft. Dead skin cells and oils then collect in the opening of the follicle and this produces what they call a ‘comedon’.

Now this is the key, if the skin over the bump (comedon) stays closed, then this is called a ‘whitehead’. If the skin over the bump is open, the exposure to the air causes it to look black, hence the name ‘Blackhead’

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Blackhead Treatment

First we recommend you understand exactly what is going on with your skin. Otherwise you can risk making matters worse. Try our free skin image search today for an instant result. 

There are various treatments available, we’ve ordered them here in stages. Try each one before moving onto the next one:

  1. Over the Counter Treatment– no doubt you’ll have seen an advert by now but there are various over the counter treatments available for treating acne. No prescription needed and they come in various forms such as creams, gels and even pads to go directly on the skin. They typically work by killing any bacteria, drying excess oil and forcing the skin to shed dead skin cells.
  2. Prescription Treatment – If OTC treatment does not work, its worth chatting to your doctor about next steps. Prescription treatments will be stronger than OTC and are applied directly to your skin, they often include  tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene
  3. Manual Removal – A Dermatologist or trainedskin care specialist can remove blackheads manually using a special instrument called a round loop extractor. There are also several other ways that blackheads can be manually removed:
    1. Microdermbrasion – a rough surfaced instrument can be used to effectively sand the top layers of your skin and remove clogs
    2. Chemical Peels – A strong chemical solution is applied to the skin – the top layers are then peeled off to reveal a smoother layer of skin underneath. You can find some versions of this treatment over the counter too
    3. Laser and Light Therapy – the intention here is to use tiny laser beams to reduce the production of oil and kill bacteria. These lasers go beyond the top layer to treat blackheads below the surface without damaging the top layer of skin

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Blackhead Prevention

The key to preventing blackheads is consistency and habit. Quite simply there are three clear ways to prevent blackheads from building up:

  1. Wash Regularly – The aim here is to remove oil build up which we now know causes blackheads to build. Use something gentle which doesn’t make your skin red or irritated.
  2. Use Oil Free Products – Oil is your enemy when trying to avoid acne and blackheads – look for products without oil to avoid making things worse
  3. Exfoliate – this can remove dead skin cells and help to reduce oil build up.

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