Blackheads are dark-colored speckles that commonly form on the nose. These are typically small in size and are a mild form of acne. Blackheads can affect your complexion but they can be removed and their formation can be controlled.
What Are Blackheads And How Do They Form?
Blackheads are one of the most misunderstood types of acne and people often confuse them for dirt under the skin. In fact, blackheads are tiny, dark bumps on the skin that appear when the openings of hair follicles get clogged. These are prominently present on areas such as the nose (the most common), back, shoulders and chest. Blackheads contribute to the formation of acne and occur when dead skin cells, debris, and sebum get trapped in the pores. They appear black or dark in color due to the oxidization of the melanin pigment present in the skin and not trapped dirt.
If blackheads are not treated in time, the clogged pores can cause the formation of pimples leading to an acne breakout.
Blackheads Vs Whiteheads
The major difference between blackheads and whiteheads is that blackheads are open pores which turn black when they oxidize whereas whiteheads have a thin layer of skin and are not exposed to the air.
Who Is At Risk?
People with oily skin tend to have overactive sebaceous glands and are more prone to getting blackheads. Also, people in puberty or those undergoing hormonal changes are more susceptible to blackhead formation.
What Causes Blackheads?
Factors that contribute to blackheads or increase your chances of developing them include:
- Excessive sweat and heat – Environments with high humidity lead to excess sweating which causes an overproduction of oil leading to blackheads.
- Genetic predisposition –If one of your parents suffered from blackheads, then you are more prone to getting them as well.
- Hormonal changes – Hormonal changes during puberty trigger a spike in sebum production that commonly causes blackheads. This is primarily due to the androgen hormone that triggers the secretion of sebum in both girls and boys during adolescence. Also, hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation or due to birth control pills can also cause blackheads in women.
- Medication – Certain medication that contains estrogen, testosterone, lithium, corticosteroids may cause blackheads as a side effect.
- Skin care products – Skin care or makeup products that are comedogenic or those that block pores can cause With men, shaving or other activities that open hair follicles can lead to blackheads.
- Stress – Stress can trigger the sebaceous glands to overproduce oil that eventually leads to the presence of blackheads.
- Smoking – Smoking incessantly leads to blackheads due to the activity of chemical present in cigarettes known as nicotine which alters sebum composition.
- Diet – Some food items in our diets containing a high amount of sugars, fats, oils etc. are known to accelerate the clogging of pores leading to blackheads.
What Are The Symptoms Of Blackheads?
- Blackheads are easily spotted due to their dark brown or black color
- They are flatter than pimples in appearance and have a raised texture
- There is no associated pain or discomfort
- Presence of enlarged pores
Treatment For Blackheads
- Prescription medication – Appropriate medication can be prescribed by the doctor to treat a severe case of blackheads. Since blackheads mainly fall into grade 1 acne, relevant topical medicines are prescribed. For grade 1 blackheads, the medication generally contains vitamin A and include tretinoin adapalene, benzoyl peroxide.
- Chemical peels – A salicylic acid peel is the primary chemical peel used for unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells that contribute to blackheads. A salicylic acid peel is a mild peel used for the effective removal of blackheads. The chemical solution containing salicylic acid is applied to the skin which eventually leads to the feeling of the upper layers revealing smooth and healthy skin underneath.
- Manual blackhead removal – Dermatologists or skin experts use a specialized tool called a comedone extractor to extract the blackheads from the skin. The blackhead extractor has a round loop at the tip which is placed over the blackhead to be extracted. It is gently pressed to remove the plug and pressure is then applied to remove the blockage. It is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get rid of blackheads but you should consider taking the help of a professional while using this tool for the right amount of pressure to unclog the pore without harming the skin.
- Microdermabrasion – In this procedure, the upper layer of skin is scrubbed away using a specialized instrument. This unclogs the pores and removes blackheads. It is not a popular choice for blackhead removal as in some cases, it may thicken the upper layer of skin and worsen the blackhead condition.
Over The Counter Removal Treatments
Blackhead medication is available at chemist shops without prescription that may be used to treat mild to moderate forms of blackheads. This OTC medication is available in a gel, scrub or cream form for direct application on the affected areas. The medicines contain the following active ingredients that act on blackheads –
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Salicylic acid cream
These ingredients help in drying excess sebum (or oil) and increase the natural regeneration process of the skin. The skin sheds dead cells faster which stops the clogging of pores, further reducing the risk of blackheads. However, it is important to discuss these solutions with your dermatologist before purchasing or using them.
Other Removal Solutions
There is no instant fix for blackheads. The following blackhead removal solutions may be handy in their removal –
- Blackhead removal strips – Blackhead removal strips are used to get rid of blackheads on nose instantly. However, this is just a temporary solution as blackheads can form again in a day or two.
- Home remedies – Home remedies involving home-made masks with natural ingredients or using steam can be helpful in keeping blackheads at bay. But these do not work on all individuals.
- Masks – Masks which are exfoliating in nature work by thoroughly scrubbing away impurities and clearing the pores along with blackheads.
How Much Does Blackhead Removal Cost In India?
The cost of blackheads on nose extraction in India ranges between Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2500 per session. Total cost is subjective, however as it depends on several factors like the experience of the dermatologist, type of skin and underlying health condition.
How To Prevent Blackheads?
- Use non-comedogenic skin care or make-up products which are water-based and oil-free.
- Clean your face twice a day with a mild cleanser followed by a gentle exfoliation scrub to wash away impurities. Use a gel-based sunscreen every day.
- Avoid popping or squeezing blackheads. Instead, use a mild scrub to get rid of the upper dead skin layer and reduce blackheads.
- Get enough rest and de-stress yourself with exercise, meditation or yoga.
- Cut down on food items that may cause excessive oil production that leads to blackheads. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
What Should You Do To Make The Results Permanent?
It is imperative to follow a good skin care regime to post a blackhead removal treatment to keep them from forming again. A good skin care routine involves using a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer every day along with mild exfoliation twice a week. Persistence is the key to achieve permanent results with healthy-looking skin free from blackheads.