What are blackheads? You know they’re a form of acne, and you probably think they’re gross, but do you know what they really are? Here, we offer some information not just to help you understand blackheads, but also to help you learn to deal with them effectively.
- Here’s something you may find surprising: blackheads are not made of dirt. Because they’re black or brown, you may assume they’re the result of dirt that’s trapped in your pore. However, they’re actually the plug of your skin’s oil in a hair follicle. When that oil is exposed to the air it oxidizes and turns dark. Blackheads aren’t infected or inflammatory
- Sebaceous filaments are often confused for blackheads. These look like blackheads but are typically smaller and appear in groups. They’re not a form of acne, they’re just clogged pores.
- Certain things can trigger blackheads. Blackheads happen when your body produces too much oil. Hormonal changes that increase oil production are a big factor, which is why people often get blackheads when they’re teenagers, during a menstrual cycle, or while taking birth control pills. If your dead skin cells aren’t shedding regularly, or bacteria builds up on your skin, blackheads may result. Certain medications, like lithium, androgens, or corticosteroids, can also raise your risk of blackheads.
- Knowing how to treat blackheads can help keep them under control. Special exfoliating scrubs can help, as long as they don’t dry out your skin. It’s important to wash your face regularly, taking care not to leave makeup or dirt on your skin to clog your pores. Pore strips, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, topical retinoids, and alpha hydroxy acids can all be beneficial in treating blackheads and other types of acne. Your dermatologist has specialized treatments that can also help, including manual removal, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser light therapy.
- It’s also important to know what not to do. Don’t wear make-up that clogs the pores, opting or non-comedogenic make-up and cosmetic products instead. Don’t squeeze blackheads, because this can irritate the skin. Steaming has been recommended in the past to open the pores, but this technique isn’t confirmed by research and can actually make things worse. Don’t over scrub your face, because when you strip the skin of sebum (oil) the sebaceous glands work harder to replace that oil, and this can lead to clogged pores.
When you need help caring for your skin, Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology is committed to providing superior, professional skin care in a manner that’s practical, efficient, and compassionate. With over 30 years of experience providing dermatological services in Salt Lake City, we provide a variety of services, from cosmetic skincare to treatment for skin cancer. Our team of board-certified dermatologists and licensed cosmetic service providers, along with our friendly staff, are here to provide you the care you need in a comfortable and professional atmosphere. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us through our website or call (801) 682-4715 today.