Blackheads, a type of acne, are a reality for almost every person at some point in their life as they are the result of natural processes that occur within the skin. To understand how to get rid of blackheads, it’s important to understand what blackheads are and what causes them.
What Are Blackheads?
Blackheads typically begin with clogged hair follicles (aka “pores”). There are millions of hair follicles on the body, including your face. Each of these follicles contains one hair and a sebaceous gland that produces oil to help keep your skin soft. When the skin sheds dead skin cells, they can get into the follicle, mix with the oil and form a plug that pushes to the surface and forms a bump called a comedone.
If the bump over the clogged pore remains closed, the bump is called a whitehead. A blackhead occurs when the skin around the bump opens and air gets in. That causes the oil to turn gray or black, which is why it’s called a “blackhead”.
What Causes Blackheads?
The main cause of acne (including blackheads) is hormonal changes in the body that cause excess oil to be produced in the pores. This is a natural process, especially during puberty, which explains why so many teens have blackheads.
How To Get Rid of Blackheads
Blackheads appear most often in the “T-Zone” of the face (forehead, nose, and chin) but may also appear on the back, chest, arms and shoulders. They can occur wherever there is a great density of hair follicles and their attached oil glands.
Topical products that include salicylic acid to clean out pores and benzoyl peroxide to kill the bacteria that causes acne (the p. acnes bacteria) are the most common blackhead treatments. Blackheads should never be removed by picking, squeezing or popping because it will cause inflammation and potential scarring. Some people mistake blackheads for trapped dirt and try to remove them by scrubbing but this can make the condition worse.