Blackheads are a common type of acne lesion. They are not painful or inflamed, but they are unsightly. Here you will find out how acne blackheads are formed and how to get rid of them.
Acne strikes almost everyone; most people experience acne at some point in their lifetime, many of them have numerous recurrences of this skin condition. There are many kinds of acne lesions in various degrees of severity. One of the most common and least problematic kinds of lesions is called a blackhead.
What are Acne Blackheads?
When a skin pore becomes blocked with sebum (the oil produced by glands in your skin), dead skin cells, hairs, and other foreign matter it is called a comedone. There are two kinds of comedones:
- Whiteheads. A whitehead is a blocked pore that has accumulated matter. It protrudes from the surface of the skin but is not inflamed, and it has no opening, so the matter inside remains white.
- Blackheads. These comedones do not protrude, but the pore is open to the skin’s surface, exposing the sebum and foreign matter trapped inside to the air. Sebum contains melanin, or skin pigment, which oxidizes and changes color, becoming black or brown.
Blackheads are not painful, and although they are usually quite small, most people find them unattractive, especially people with fair skin, since they are more noticeable. There are several ways to help get rid of blackheads.
The foundation of acne blackheads treatment begins with a good skincare regimen. Make sure you wash your face twice daily, and that you refrain from touching your face as much as possible, since that increases the amount of oil on your skin and can cause irritation.
Over the Counter Acne Blackheads Treatments
There are many good products to treat blackheads and other acne lesions available without a prescription. Typically, these topical products come in a cream, gel, or liquid form, and can span the range of products from soaps and facial washes to toners and spot treatments.
Before using a spot treatment you need to cleanse the skin so that it is more effective.
You may need between four to six weeks for the topical treatments to work, and you may experience a temporary worsening of the condition before it gets better. Some of the most popular over-the-counter acne blackheads treatments are:
- Benzoyl peroxide is great for acne blackheads treatment because it kills the acne-causing bacteria, p. acnes. It also dries up excess sebum and dissolves the dead skin cells that clog pores and form comedones.
- Salicylic acid breaks down blackheads.
- Sulfur and Resorcinol help eliminate blackheads by removing dead skin cells from clogged pores and mop up the excess sebum.
Prescription Acne Blackheads Treatments
Dermatologists can prescribe several different acne blackheads treatments. They can be topical or oral. The medications that are most frequently prescribed for acne fall into two categories, and they are often used in a combination.
- Antimicrobials. These acne blackheads treatments kill the p. acnes bacteria that causes the majority of acne lesions. Oral antibiotics used in acne blackheads treatment include tetracycline and doxycycline. Other times dermatologists prescribe a topical antibiotic for blackheads, such as erythromycin or clindamycin.
- Retinoids. Retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A, is used in many skincare products as a wrinkle reducer, but it is also very beneficial in the treatment of acne. Although you can buy retinoids over the counter, the concentrations of the active ingredients are lower than in prescription-strength formulations. Isotretinoin (Accutane) is an oral medication, while tretinoin (Retin-A) is topical. Both reduce oil production in the skin, increase the skin’s regenerative rate, and diminish inflammation.
If you have blackheads that refuse to go away, consider seeing a dermatologist, who can perform an extraction. Extraction is done with a sterile metal instrument that causes the core of the blackhead to pop out. Do not attempt extraction yourself, since this can cause inflammation and worsen the problem.
Blackheads are an unfortunate part of acne, but they can be treated with a variety of products. If you find that your acne blackheads do not respond to over the counter treatments you may need to see a dermatologist, who can recommend acne blackhead treatments that are more effective for you.