What are blackheads?
Blackheads are small white spots on your skin. They usually appear when there is too much oil or sebum production (sebum is the oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands). These spots may also occur naturally, but they tend to be less noticeable. There are many different types of blackhead such as: comedones, pustules, cysts and nodules. All these types have their own characteristics and treatment options.
How are blackheads treated?
There are several treatments available for blackheads. Some of them include:
1) Exfoliation – exfoliating your face with a mild cleanser will help remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin.
You can use an alcohol-based product such as baby shampoo, coconut oil or apple cider vinegar. This will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth after it’s been scrubbed clean.
2) Hydrating Creams – applying a hydrating cream over your face will help reduce redness and swelling caused by blackheads.
A good example would be the facial moisturizer made by Neutrogena. It contains ingredients such as arbutin, aloe vera gel, glycerin and vitamin E to hydrate and soothe dry skin. You can also use tea tree oil or honey mixed with yogurt to hydrate your skin.
3) Retinoid – over-the-counter retinoids such as Retin A and Renova are used to reduce the size of blackheads.
These creams can cause side effects such as dryness, redness, itching, flaking and sun sensitivity.
4) Salicylic Acid – this is an ingredient commonly found in over-the-counter treatments for acne.
It’s also a beta-hydroxy acid, which helps remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin.
What causes blackheads?
Blackheads are caused when dirt and oil get trapped inside the pores of your skin. The top layer of your skin (the stratum corneum) contains cells called keratinocytes. These cells produce a natural oil that keeps your skin hydrated. This natural oil is called sebum. Sebum normally travels up to the opening of your skin pores (pores). It’s naturally supposed to travel through the opening and onto the surface of your skin. When blackheads occur, the opening of your skin pore gets narrower. The sebum has no way of traveling out of your skin pore and it gets trapped inside. As a result, your skin pore becomes clogged.
What do blackheads look like?
Blackheads are black or dark brown spots on your skin. They can be either small or large in size. Blackheads can appear on any part of your body, but they’re most common on the face and neck. Although blackheads aren’t life-threatening, they can affect your self-confidence and self-esteem if not treated properly.
Sources & references used in this article:
Method for removing dead surface cells, dirt, oil, and blackheads from the skin and related compositions and articles by RC Dulog, JJ Ferone, BA Reisinger… – US Patent 6,106,818, 2000 – Google Patents
Device for removing blackheads by T Berkovich – US Patent 5,395,380, 1995 – Google Patents
Enterohepatitis (Blackheads) in Turkeys: VII.—Experiments on transmission of the disease by WE Swales – Canadian journal of comparative medicine and …, 1950 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Compositions for exfoliating skin and treating blackheads by S Walsh – US Patent App. 10/252,774, 2004 – Google Patents