The name itself sounds horrifying, but in reality, blackheads are one of the most common forms of acne. Most people experience acne in some form, expressed through the skin in some way throughout their lifetime. Blackheads are common at any age and commonly seen on the face, especially on the cheeks or around the nose area.
Pores and Hair Follicles – Where Blackheads Start
Look at your skin with a magnifying glass. You’ll notice small, but very visible holes called pores, which are actually small openings in your skin, which are also known as hair follicles. Yeah, they’re the same thing. The way that hair follicles work is that each pore (follicle) includes a sebaceous (beneath the skin) gland which produces oils and a single tiny-hair.
The that your body secretes from the hair follicle is called sebum, and it can be waxy and greasy, but it’s completely natural and necessary for healthy hairs and skin. Remember that all mammals have tiny hairs, all over their bodies. Sebum is made up of fats and more specifically, triglycerides, and other compounds that help make the skin waterproof and helps to lubricate the skin, so that it doesn’t dry out. That would be gross.
The Problem with Clogged Pores and Acne
Ok, this is where your pores come into the picture. Your pores can get easily clogged with the combination of sebum and dry, dead skin cells (keratin), dirt, and other very small foreign matter or even really tiny matter like bacteria. Getting clogged pores is relatively easy to do. When pores get clogged, they can turn into pimples or other forms of acne, like blackheads.
When your pores get clogged, the plug forms a bump called a comedo. If the bump is closed, it’s called a white head. If the clogged material is exposed to the air, thus open; the bump can look black. Viola! There’s where you get your deep hard blackheads.
What are the Causes of Blackheads?
Skin hygiene is just part of the cause. As you can imagine, a regular routine of facial cleansing can help keep your pores open, but the skin is a delicate organ. Your body needs the natural pores that it produces, so finding ways of keeping skin clean, without overly abrading the skin or causing it to dry up, is important.
Other than just keeping your skin nice and clean and fresh, there are a host of other factors that are a little harder to prevent. For example, people that simply produce extra acne-causing bacteria or skin oil due to organic factors or through the processes of temporary hormonal changes. Birth control pills, menstruation, and foods that trigger certain skin responses are important, too.
What Can You Do about Blackheads?
The first and best thing that you can do is take an ounce of prevention. Find cleaning products that won’t be too harsh and wash skin on a regular basis. Second, consider diet and other environmental factors (things you might be able to prevent).
There are different kinds of acne. There are cysts ( inflammation due to bacteria underneath the skin ) and there are whiteheads ( uncovered clogged pores ) and blackheads, clogged pores that have been covered by newly hardened skin.
A dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics that help reduce acne-causing bacteria for inflammation-type acne, or you can try over the counter medications that help treat the acute issues but don’t pop them. No, as tempting as it is to pop the blackheads and pimples on your face, it can just push the clogged pore in deeper or be painful or even cause scarring. Dermatologists or trained estheticians have special procedures and instruments to help extract the blackhead from the surrounding area.
Blackheads aren’t great, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent or deal with them effectively.