What Are Blackheads?

A blackhead is known in the medical world as an open comedo. They are of the larger class of acne problems called acne vulgaris & can occur in any location on the body and appears as a yellow or black bump on the skin.

Blackheads are follicles or sebaceous glands filled with sebum, keratin and excess oil. The oils accumulate at a small opening and form a raised portion on the skin. When the material inside reaches air, the material oxidizes and turns black. In some cases, melanin may be the cause of the dark color of blackheads.

Whiteheads vs Blackheads

Whiteheads are also a part of the acne vulgaris class, but whiteheads do not have a small opening at the surface of the skin. Since no air reaches the sebum, the material inside the bump does not turn black but remains white. This is the primary difference between the two.

The skin lesions most often occur on the nose or cheeks, but they may also be found on the back or chest. People can easily identify blackheads because the color is distinguishable from other types of acne.

Illustration of Types of Acne & Pimples, including Whiteheads & Blackheads.

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What Causes Blackheads?

Many people think they are caused by poor hygiene, though this is not necessarily the case. Poor hygiene may be a contributing factor, but it is not a direct correlation. They are actually caused by an accumulation of excess oils in the sebaceous glands. The sebum and keratin builds up, clogs hair follicles and forms a bump. As the bump is exposed to air, the keratin and sebum oxidizes and turns black.

When the blackhead is extracted, the contents are usually a yellow-brown color instead of black. The melanin content is often responsible for the color. Oxidized sebum may reflect light differently to produce a “black” hue.

Poor hygiene allows dead cells, dirt or dust to accumulate and clog the pores. This blocks the escape of the oils from the skin and can cause more blackheads to form. So, poor hygiene is important, but it is not the direct cause of formation.

What is Sebum?

Sebum is comprised of a fatty material produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands. The fatty material is made of wax, lipids and debris from fat cells. Sebum is released when cells burst. When sebaceous glands are stimulated by hormones, they release more sebum into the hair follicle. Sebum is a sticky substance, so when it combines with bacteria and dead skin cells that can easily form blackheads and other acne pimples. Seborrhoea is a condition caused by excess sebum.

Sebum is odorless. Odor is produced from bacterial breakdown. Sebum will only emit odor when a bacterial infection is present. Sebum is also present in other areas of the body. Earwax contains sebum. Sebum is also responsible for oily hair when it is not washed for several days.

Sebum consists primarily of wax esters, tryglicerides and squalene. Wax esters and squalene are only produced by sebaceous glands. Forty-five percent of sebum is comprised of water-insoluble fatty acids. These fatty acids have antimicrobial properties.

Good Properties of Sebum. Though sebum can cause blackheads, it also has some good properties. Sebum provides Vitamin E to the upper dermis of the skin and has anti-inflammatory properties. The integrity of the skin’s barrier is maintained by sebum. Sebum also delivers antioxidants, pheromones and hydrates stratum corneum.

Four Things to Know about Sebaceous Glands

  1. Sebaceous Glands are Holocrine Glands. Sebaceous glands are also known as holocrine glands. These glands are found all over the body. Since sebaceous glands are present all over the body, blackheads can form on any area where the glands are present. The secretion of sebum is necessary to keep the skin moisturized and healthy, but overproduction can lead to formation of blackheads. Sebum protects the body from bacteria and other foreign substances from entering the body.
  2. Overactive Sebaceous Glands Cause Blackheads. Excess sebum is present on skin because of stress, a diet high in fat or due to excessive scrubbing. Blackheads form from excess sebum and dead skin cells & accelerated glandular activity may also lead to formation.
  3. Underactive Sebaceous Glands Causes Dryness. Underactive sebaceous glands causes dry and flaky skin. With underactive glands, the skin becomes sensitive to weather, sun and other factors. Excess exposure to water can also reduce the production of sebum. Reduced production leads to dry skin.
  4. Sebaceous Glands Play Other Protective Roles in the Body. Though unrelated to external skin, vernix caseosa also plays a role in the protection and development of the embryonic skin in a woman’s uterus during pregnancy. Vernix caseosa is produced by sebaceous glands. Sebeceous glands also work with apocrine glands to play a thermoregulatory role. In hot environments, sebaceous glands produce secretions that emulsify. This process prevents the loss of sweat drops. Sebum also repels rain from skin and hair.

Other Contributing Factors and Myths About Formation

Truth: Changes in Hormone Levels Cause Blackheads. Changes in hormone levels are responsible for high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Hormones triggers over-activity in oil glands and produces clogged pores. Oil production varies based upon a person’s age. During puberty, oil production is at its highest. As people age, oil production diminishes. For this reason, most people have less acne formation as they get older.

Conversely, youthful skin also diminishes with age. Oil production helps people look younger and maintain a beautiful appearance. When people reach their twenties, oil production reduces and moisturizers are required to balance the loss of moisture. More moisture replenishment is required by the thirties.

From the forties and beyond, oil production diminishes significantly and signs of aging becomes apparent. Wrinkles start to form, and acne becomes less common. People are required to significantly increase their moisturizing regimen to counteract the dryness.

The key to control is balancing moisture levels. Too much moisture leads to blackhead formation. Too little moisture leads to wrinkles and visible signs of aging. Balance will prevent signs of aging while reducing acne problems.

Some Myth/Some Truth: Improperly Cleaned Skin Causes Blackheads. While poor hygiene is not a direct cause of formation, improperly cleaned skin can cause dead skin build-up. Dead skin build-up makes it more likely that pores will become clogged. Clogged pores accelerate the build-up of oil and sebum inside the pores. Patients must establish a balance. Over-cleaning could lead to skin irritation.

Truth: Excessive Use of Moisturizers Causes Blackheads. Excessive use of moisturizers, sunscreens, foundation or make-up can clog pores & accelerate the production of blackheads.

Mostly Myth/Some Truth: Acne and Blackhead Formation is Hereditary. Acne is not hereditary except for some severe cases.

Some Myth/Some Truth: Food Causes Blackhead Formation. The food ingested into the body does affect how the body functions. Nutrients can affect healthy production of hormones and other aspects of skin production. A high fat diet, for instances, may increase the amount of fat in the skin.

Fluctuations in dietary fat can affect sebum production. Healthy blood production is promoted when excess fat is removed from the diet. Low-glycemic foods prevent insulin surges. Insulin surges may lead to inflammation and clogged pores.

Foods most commonly blamed for blackhead formation include: Chocolates, greasy food and dairy products. These foods do have higher fat content than other foods and may promote sebum production. Chocolate, for instance, does not have specific properties leading to acne formation. Despite the evidence, most parents will warn kids not to eat chocolate to promote healthy skin.

Chocolate in excess may lead to obesity which may cause increased sebum production and unhealthy skin. Physicians are studying more about the link between dairy and acne formation but no conclusive evidence has been found.

Truth: Lack of Sleep Causes Blackhead Formation. Lack of high quality sleep causes stress. When stress hormones increase in the body, blood sugar levels increase. When cortisol, a stress hormone, increases blood sugar levels, inflammation increases and sebaceous glands become stimulated. Excess oils are produced from overactive sebaceous glands. This contributes to acne breakouts. Physicians recommend sleeping for eight hours of sleep for night to avoid acne breakouts.

Truth: Manage Stress Levels to Reduce Blackhead Formation. Unmanaged stress can increase levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cytokines are inflammatory compounds. These hormones are also increased when stress levels are high. Chronically high stress levels can depress the adrenal glands. This may lead to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism stimulates the sebaceous glands by initiating a chain reaction of hormone secretions. Stress levels should be managed to ameliorate this cycle.

Truth: Teenagers are More Prone to Blackhead Formation. Teenagers in puberty are more likely to have acne because their hormone levels are changing & this is the stage in their lives when oil production is at its highest. Teenagers must learn to balance moisture levels and manage oil production to prevent acne & prevent pores from becoming clogged.

Truth: Hair Touching the Face Promotes Blackhead Formation. Oily or dirty hair touching the face can spread infection & acne issues. Experts recommend keeping facial hair to a minimum.

Truth: Cosmetics Promote Blackhead Formation. Cosmetics such as foundation and powders can clog hair follicles and promote excessive oil build-up. Dermatologists recommend non-comedogenic cosmetics and cleansers to prevent clogged pores. Water-based or oil-free cosmetics are recommended.

Truth: Health Conditions Promote Blackhead Formation. Diabetes, neurological conditions and polycystic ovary syndrome all contribute to oily skin. There is also a correlation indicating an increase in sebum production with HIV, Parkinson’s disease, strokes and head injuries. Blackheads, bacterial infections and fungal infections may form if these health conditions persist without treatment.

How Common Are Blackheads?

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States. Acne is often self-treated. Since physicians do not treat every case of acne, it is hard to determine exactly how many people are affected by acne each year. Nearly every teenager has an acne episode in their lives. Thus, the numbers are fairly large. Studies indicate an estimate of between 17 million and 45 million Americans are acne sufferers.

Blackheads on Man's Nose.

Most people will develop at least one blackhead at some point in their lives, especially during puberty when hormones are changing & oil production increases. Oil production aids in a youthful glow, but blackheads are an unwanted side effect of this occurrence in life.

While poor hygiene does not promote excessive oil production, dead skin, dirt, makeup, bacteria and other external elements can clog pores. Clogged pores with excessive oil production will lead to blackheads. Teenagers should develop proper hygiene to prevent clogs.

Pore issues are most common in people with oily or combination skin & will most likely occur in the T-Zone. The T-Zone consists of the forehead, nose and chin areas. The back is also another common problem issue, but most teens cannot reach this area to clean or to treat with astringent.

People who work around a lot of pollution are also more prone to issues. This may include people:

  • working outdoors, in construction, or for the Department of Transportation
  • working in custodian positions as janitors or maids who frequently use household cleansing chemicals
  • who work as fry cooks or near a deep fryer
  • located in high humidity environments

People who scrub their faces excessively will be more prone to blackheads, as excessive scrubbing stimulates sebum production. Exfoliation should be performed at most once weekly to prevent pores from becoming clogged. Alternatively, gentle exfoliation can take place daily.

Eliminating Blackheads

Some common reasons for eliminating them include:

Remove Bacteria. Prevent Infection. Blackheads contain bacteria which could lead to further infection. They should not be allowed to persist untreated for a significant period of time. Obviously, extractions can be performed by a licensed aesthetician, but many experts do not recommend that people perform extractions at home. The practice can lead to scarring and other problems if not performed properly.

Improve Appearance and Self Esteem. Because of the black to yellow-brown coloring of blackheads, blackheads are visible to others & can be distracting. People with the condition may wonder if the person is focusing on what they are saying or their blemishes, causing them to have a lower self-esteem & less confidence in their interactions.

Studies have shown that people with whiter teeth and clear facial skin are more likely to get jobs than others. Severe cases of acne may require visiting a dermatologist to help improve the skin’s condition.

What Are the Most Common Methods for Eliminating Blackheads?

Should You Squeeze Them?

The recommendations are mixed. Extractions can potentially cause skin damage and contamination. Many people perform self-extractions to accelerate the process and reduce the unsightly appearance. There are risks, however, which include:

  • Contamination. Bacteria in the pores could penetrate deeper into the skin and contaminate other areas. Inflammation and redness will increase as a result. The surrounding area will become even more unsightly. When the blackhead erupts, the bacteria could spread to other pores and promote formation of additional acne.
  • Scar Damage. Self-extraction may cause permanent damage to pores and also produce scar damage. Certain procedures must be followed to prevent scar damage.

How to Extract a Blackhead Properly

Blackhead extraction process.
Apply a heated compress for 10 to 20 minutes. This process opens the pores and loosens the sebum in the pore. Experts suggest using a blackhead extractor, which is placed directly above & pressure is applied. If the sebum does not immediately extract, do not force it because it is not ready. Prolonged pressure may lead to an infection or scarring.

If the process is successful, the area of skin will heal, and the person’s appearance will improve. Experts do not recommend squeezing pores on the nose, as the location is more prone to infection. Aggravation will only cause more unsightly scars and redness.

What is a Blackhead Extractor? It is a special tool designed to remove acne lesions. The tool used for blackhead and whitehead extractions is the same. These tools are also called comedone extractors, and are available for at-home or professional use. A basic extractor looks like an unsharpened pencil. A metal loop is attached at both ends. Extractors may have a small blade or lancet at the end to open comedones that are completely closed. Lancing should be completed by a professional. Scarring may occur with amateur lancing.

To prepare for extractions, cleansing and exfoliation is recommended. Many experts recommend starting by massaging the skin with a warm washcloth and mild cleanser to remove dead skin cells. When dead cells are removed, comedone extractions are easier. Dry the area completely to prevent the tissue from tearing during the procedure.

After gentle pressure is used to extract the blackhead from the skin, experts recommend finishing the procedure with a layer of benzoyl peroxide cream, which is available over-the-counter. Experts recommend using between 2.5% & 5% formulations. Acne-causing bacteria and inflammation are reduced with benzoyl peroxide.

Before using an extractor, identify the type of lesion present on the body. Deep-set lesions such as cysts, nodules or lumps beneath the skin are not good candidates for removal. If these types of lesions are extracted using this tool, scarring or discomfort may occur. Dermatologists are trained to address these types of issues and can recommend an appropriate treatment.

Other types of extractors:

  • Double Spoon Extractor. This method pushes the blackhead out of the affected area. Simply position the tool over the affected area and then, scoop out the contents. After each extraction, extractors should be cleaned to avoid cross contamination.
  • Pore Strips as Extractors. Pore strips are a way to remove blackheads but are considered an extractor rather than an oral or topical treatment. After the skin is moistened, the strip is placed over the affected area. An adhesive holds the strip in place. The strips are primarily for use on the nose, but the strips can be placed on any area of the body. The strip requires five to 10 minutes to dry on the skin. After it is dry, the strip may be pulled away, and the blackheads should be extracted. After each use, the strips should be discarded.
  • Tweezers as Extractors. Tweezers are not ideal extractors and are not recommended for amateurs. Bleeding and scarring can occur if too much pressure is applied. Sterilize the tweezers and sanitized between uses. The arms of the tweezers should be placed directly over the blackhead & squeezed to encourage it to reach the surface. A sterile tissue is used to remove the extracted material from the surface of the body.
  • Blackhead Removal Gun. This plastic gun will act as a vacuum to remove via suction from the skin. The suction tool is powerful and will remove the blackhead without damaging the surrounding tissue. This method might also be used in conjunction with metal extractors and pore strips.

Alternatives to Squeezing Pimples

Drink Plenty of Water. Water is recommended by experts to clear the kidney and liver of toxins. With considerable water consumption, healthy hormone production and skin elasticity maintenance will be promoted. When the body operates normally, excessive sebum production is not a major issue aside from puberty. Water cleanses the body and filters the blood of impurities. The kidneys and perspiration are essential in the toxin elimination process.

Toxins form after food is metabolized & also enter the body through breathing. When toxins linger in the body, they can clog pores, promoting acne in the process. Water should be consumed daily to flush out toxins. Experts recommend drinking eight to 10 normal glasses of water per day. This amount equals approximately 64 to 80 fluid ounces daily. Eight ounces are in a single glass of water.

Many people carry a water bottle throughout the day or use lightly flavored water to aid in this process.

Eat Less Fat and Sugar. A high fat diet increases the skin’s fat content. Extreme changes in dietary fat can increase sebum production. Experts recommend avoiding excess fat to increase the healthy circulation of blood to the skin. This will help to keep the pores clear. Low-glycemic foods prevent insulin surges. Insulin surges lead to inflammation and clogged follicles.

Get More Sleep. There is some truth in the statement, “Make sure you get your beauty sleep.” Getting high quality sleep helps people maintain their cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone known to elevate blood sugar levels. Increased levels could lead to inflammation and increased sebaceous glands. Eight hours of sleep per night are recommended to prevent skin issues.

Manage Stress. Unmanaged stress also increases the production of cortisol and cytokines. Cytokines are inflammatory compounds. Over time, chronic stress will negatively affect the adrenal glands. This could lead to hypothyroidism. This condition stimulates the sebaceous glands. Stress should be managed at all times to keep the complexion clear.

Exercise can help to manage stress levels and keep hormone levels regulated. Thirty minutes of exercise for three to five days of the week will lower stress levels. Yoga and breathing exercises also lowers stress levels.

Take Supplements. Experts recommend supplements and vitamins to help regulate the production of sebum and to keep skin clear. Vitamins help to regulate sebum production and keep the skin clear. Alpha linoleic acid (ALA) is a supplement many people take to reduce harmful inflammation. ALA will also prevent the excess production of sebum. Inflammation is regulated by Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 will also promote skin cell formation.

Try Laser Treatment. Laser treatment is designed to monitor oily skin. Laser treatment modifies the sebaceous gland to make them less active. When the glands only produce enough sebum to keep skin moist, blackheads are less likely to be produced. To be effective, between two and six treatments may be required. Usually, the treatments will be spaced three to four weeks apart. Laser treatments are a highly effective way to control overactive sebaceous glands.

Avoid Dust. Oils cannot escape the pore if the pores are blocked by dust particles or other debris. When people perspire, dust is eliminated from the skin through open pores. Exercising is recommended to open pores and remove dust through perspiration.

Treat Blackheads with Baking Soda and Water. Apply baking soda paste, let the paste dry and wash the affected with lukewarm water. Then wash the skin with ice water to close the pores. This process will produce desired results overtime.

Treat Blackheads with Banana Peel. Bananas are loaded with anti-oxidants to help maintain skin. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties will fight acne. Bananas contain large amounts of iron. This helps to improve the blood’s circulation and also improves hemoglobin production and function.

Tryptophan helps to regulate hormones in the body. This hormone regulates serotonin. Serotonin is not responsible for sebum production, but it can relieve stress which may lower corticosal levels. When people are happy and stress levels are reduced, acne issues are less prevalent.

Potassium is good for regulating and preventing high blood pressure. When blood pressure is low, stress levels remain regulated. Regulation may include the natural water balance of the body and the regular heartbeat.

Fructooligosaccharide stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the colon. Friendly bacteria produce enzymes to fight infections caused by bacteria commonly associated with acne.

To make a banana peel mask follow these instructions:

Blend a banana until creamy. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice and two teaspoons of honey to the blender. Blend for 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl to prepare for application. Before application, rinse the neck and face with hot water. Apply the mask evenly and leave on the face for 20 minutes until it is completely dry.

Rinse with warm water and then, wipe the face with a warm washcloth. Splash the face with cool water. Then, pat the skin the skin dry. Apply the banana mask two to three times per week for the best results. The mask mixture should be made fresh with each application.

Drink Natural Fruit Smoothies. Fruit can be applied to the face or ingested for to eliminate blackheads. Bananas & any fruits with vitamin C & high in antioxidants are recommended. Orange juice, pineapple juice, strawberries and other fruits are popular smoothie ingredients.

Other ingredients recommended for fruit smoothies:

  • Flaxseed Oil. Flaxseed oil is recommended because it is rich in Omega fatty acids. Omega fatty acids nourish the body’s organs. The flavor is mild. Many people simply mix a spoonful into the smoothie. Flaxseed oil can be found in any health foods store.
  • Blueberries. Blueberries have a considerable number of antioxidants present. Antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals. Free radicals are harmful and are contributing factors in conditions such as cancer. Blueberries are delicious and fight blemishes.
  • Spinach. Though this is not a common smoothie ingredient, spinach combined with other vegetables can help promote the constant production of new cells. Spinach also contains Vitamin A.
  • Include All Ingredients to Create a Stronger Smoothie. Mix two bananas, two tablespoons of flaxseed oil, two cups of orange juice, one cup of blueberries and one cup of spinach. Drink this smoothie once daily.

Commercial Blackhead Remover Strips . Commercial remover strips contain useful ingredients and some potentially harmful ingredients. Many people cannot use commercial strips because of the parabens present in the skin. Glycerin, methylparaben, water and witch hazel extract may also be present in commercial strips.

Witch hazel reduces the appearance of large pores. Tea tree oil and menthol are also commonly found in commercial strips and are effective in removing blackheads because of the anti-bacterial properties present. Menthol has a cooling property and stimulates the skin.

Steam Use a hot washcloth and place on the skin for 15 minutes or more to soften the skin. Then use cleanser and a cotton ball for removal.

Lemon Juice Lemon juice is an effective solution due to the vitamin C present in the juice. Experts recommend applying freshly squeezed lemon juice onto the surrounding area. It will tighten the skin’s pores to help eliminate the problem.

Fresh Tomato Juice Home remedies such as the pulp from a fresh tomato – rich in citric acid – can be used as a mask. Simply crush the tomatoes in the blender and apply the mask to the face for twenty minutes. Wash the mask from the face with warm water. After the mask, blackheads can be extracted. Tomatoes have the same effect as lime or lemon juice. All three citric fruits act as toners.

Fenugreek Herb Crush the leaves of the herb and combine with lemon juice or water to for a paste concoction. Apply the paste directly to the portion of the body affected & leave the concoction in place for at least 10 minutes. Rinse the paste with lukewarm water. Repeat the application daily for the best results.

Honey A thin layer of honey may be applied on the skin for about 10 minutes and then rinsed with warm water. The honey will act as a natural peel and remove blackheads. Honey also enhances the skin’s condition.

Epsom Salts Epsom salts should be mixed with lukewarm water and iodine. The mixture can be applied to the skin with a cotton ball to loosen the pores. Rinse the mixture from the face afterwards & use a facial scrub with green tea extract to quickly eliminate blackheads.

Hormonal Treatments Hormones such as cortisol are responsible for sebum production. Excess sebum production occurs during teenage years when hormones begin to change the body. During menopause, estrogen levels decrease and testosterone levels increase in the body. The sebaceous glands produce thicker oils and may promote blackhead formation on the shoulders, arms, face, back and chest.

Spearmint tea can normalize hormonal levels. Specifically, spearmint tea can lower androgen levels. Birth control pills can also be used to alter the production of androgen and balance all hormonal levels. Acne manifestations can be managed better once the hormonal balance has been identified.

Acne can be caused by overactive oil-producing glands, bacteria overgrowth, inflammation and pores clogged due to an excess of oil. Oral contraceptives only address overactive oil-producing glands. Androgens stimulate sebaceous glands and the glands produce oil. Oral contraceptives contain progestin and estrogen to counteract the production of androgens. Glands then produce less oil and issues are less likely to appear.

Orthro Tri-Cyclen and Yaz are two birth control pills known for fighting acne. Both birth control pills have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Patients should inquire with their dermatologist or gynecologist to determine the best pill for treating hormonal acne issues.

Oral medication can assist with androgen regulation also. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress androgen production. Other anti-androgens include: Flutamide and spironolactone. Both of these anti-androgens block the androgen secretion in sebaceous follicles. The anti-androgen also eliminates Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. This is an acne pathogen.

Diet can also affect hormonal changes. Spicy products and foods with hydrogenated oils could contain high amounts of sugars. When insulin levels rise, skin inflammation can occur. People should avoid foods that will produce stress hormones to keep levels regulated. Foods rich in minerals, essential fatty acids and fibers should be included in the diet to reduce acne.

Hormonal acne should also be treated topically. A mild cleanser, clarifying gel and exfoliate may be used to eliminate excess oils, bacteria and dead cells. Benzoyl peroxide is common for reducing bacteria. Retinoids are also common for treating hormonal acne.

Tea Tree Oil Experts recommend leveraging tea tree oil’s anti-bacterial properties to eliminate blackheads. Combine one drop of tea tree oil with salt, water and a quarter teaspoon of baking soda. Let the mixture dry on the face for an hour. Rinse the face with warm water and pat the face dry.

Neem Oil Neem oil is also effective in eliminating blackheads on the skin. The oil can be applied directly to blackheads. Only a few drops of this anti-bacterial oil are required to eliminate blackheads. Neem oil is also effective for cleaning teeth, healing gums, disinfecting surfaces, soothing sunburns, healing fungal infections and repelling mosquitoes. Eastern Indians chew on neem twigs to clean their teeth.

Crushed Sesame Seeds Use milk of magnesia, lemon juice, egg white, ground sage and citrus peel to dry up sebaceous glands. A salt and water paste may be also added to this mixture for the best results.

Dermatologist Recommended Medications Adapalene is often offered to blackhead sufferers under the brand name of Differin. This medication is a topical retinoid and is used to treat mild to moderate acne. Three strengths are available: 0.1 percent, 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent. Adapalene is also available under the generic name of Teva. This generic brand is only available in a 0.1 percent gel.

Other dermatologist recommended medications also include:

  • Salicylic Acid. Salicylic acid is often recommended for mild blackheads. The keratolytic substance can be purchased over-the-counter & can break down keratin commonly found in sebum. When salicylic acid breaks down keratin, the follicle is cleared. Salicylic acid is cost effective and easy to use. Simply apply with a cotton ball after cleaning the face with a mild cleanser.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is recommended and prescribed by a dermatologist. Benzoyl peroxide removes dead skin cells from follicles. This medication also helps to reduce blackhead formation. Benzoyl peroxide eliminates acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes. This bacteria is known for promoting blackhead formation and is also known for promoting formation of serious cases of acne such as cysts, nodules and pustules.
  • Retinoids. A dermatologist may also recommend a topical retinoid which consist of tretinoin, tazarotene and adapalene. There are some side effects associated with using retinoids. For instance, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.
  • Erythromycin. Erythromycin is considered to be a macrolide antibiotic. Bacterial infections are treated with this antibiotic. This antibiotic may also be used for other purposes but not for flu, colds or viral infections. People with diabetes, myasthenia gravis, liver disease or who are pregnant should not use erythromycin.
  • Retin-A Gel. Retin-A gel is a synthetic form of vitamin A. Tretinoin aids in cell turnover and reduces the tendency of skin cells to bond together. Blackhead function is reduced and acne issues heal faster.
  • Accutane. Accutane is an oral medication recommended for patients who have severe acne problems which have not responded to antibiotics. Accutane is a synthetic form of vitamin A. Accutane reduces the production of sebum. Reduced sebum production reduces the formation of blackheads. Recently, this drug has been under investigation for potentially harmful side effects. Be sure to inquire with a physician prior to taking Accutane.
  • Extraction. Dermatologists may extract blackheads from the face using special extractors. Dermatologists may combine extractions and chemical peels to clear the face faster and make the process easier. Hydroxy acids are commonly used for chemical peels. The outer layer of dead skin is removed with the chemical peel. New cells are revealed, and a more youthful appearance emerges.
  • Use UV Exposure to Eliminate Blackheads. Some people recommend exposing the skin to UV light to unblock pores. When skin peels, the pores are unblocked. Many people use sunbeds or regular sunbathing to facilitate this process. This type of exposure can be dangerous. If the skin burns, skin cancer may develop. Discuss this treatment with a physician to learn how to use UV exposure properly and effectively.

Myths and Truths about Removing Blackheads

Scrubbing Excessively Removes Them. Exfoliation does prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores, but excessive scrubbing causes more sebum to be produced and irritates the skin. Other methods are more effective.

Important Blackhead Fighting Nutrients

Healthy diets prevent acne. To fight acne, people must not only know what foods to consume, but they must also know which nutrients are essential in the process. Promotion of an overall healthy lifestyle with exercise and a healthy diet will improve the skin’s condition.

Essential nutrients and benefits include:

  • Vitamin A. The condition of your skin is affected by Vitamin A production. Liver functions are also affected by Vitamin A production. A deficiency could lead to improper balances in both the liver and skin and result in the production of blackheads. Everyone should consume the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A to boost the immune system. When hormones are balanced and toxins are removed properly, the skin glows and remains free of blemishes.
  • Vitamin B. Cell regeneration is necessary for healthy and youthful skin. When cells do not regenerate properly or the central nervous system is affected, blackhead formation is more common. The formations occur because hormones are imbalanced. Vitamin B supplements are recommended to promote healthy skin free of blemishes.
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential to the development of the skin’s collagen production, healing and maintaining the immune system. Vitamin C is effective when ingested or when applied topically. Fruit smoothies full of citrus fruits will clear the skin or a vitamin C paste will heal a blackhead. Health food stores carry concentrated vitamin C drops for people who would prefer not to use natural sources.
  • Vitamin D. Many people tan to receive promote vitamin D production, but Vitamin D can also be taken in supplement form. Vitamin D can help reduce blackhead formation.
  • Vitamin E. Vitamin E promotes the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin E also aids in prevention of free radicals and acne. People who consume the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin E have fewer breakouts. Topical Vitamin E is also an effective treatment.

Remove Toxins with Nutrients

Toxins must be removed from the body to promote healthy skin. Vitamins, trace elements, amino acids, and minerals are an essential part of this process. With a regimen that includes these elements, skin will be improved and blackhead production will be reduced. Healthy diets contain the essential elements to remove toxins from the body, reduce hormonal imbalances and promote a strong immune system. Diet is the foundation of healthy skin.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Jeff

    This was very informative I enjoyed reading the article. Hopefully those facts will be able to help with my blackheads

  • Leave a Reply