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Any kind of mark or spot on the face is not a welcome change. Dark and bumpy blackheads on the nose and face are one such nuisance. Let us help you understand what exactly these spots are and how they are caused. We shall also discuss how to remove them easily.
What Are Blackheads And How Do They Form?
A blackhead is non-inflammatory type of acne caused by a clog inside a follicle. Excess oil (sebum), dead skin cells (skin debris), dirt, and impurities tend to fill the skin pores and block them. A blocked pore is called a comedone, and if this pore remains open, it is subjected to oxidization by the atmosphere. This oxidization process causes the open comedone to develop a dark brown or black colour on the surface. These spots are called Blackheads. Their dark colour is caused by an increase in skin pigment. Blackheads are often confused with accumulated dirt on the skin, but they cannot be scrubbed away.
Where Can You Get Blackheads?
Blackheads can develop on any part of the body like the nose, face (cheeks, chin, foreheads), back and legs. Rarely, they can appear on the ear, back, legs, underarm, chest, head, inner thighs, buttocks and private parts. The first place blackheads normally appear on are on the nose, and from there they seem to spread and multiply to your forehead, chin and cheeks. Since the skin on the nose contains oil glands, it’s more prone to getting blackheads.
Who Is At Risk?
Blackheads might appear on anyone irrespective of their gender and age group. The increased production of sebum leads to this condition. People with an oily skin type have a greater risk of developing blackheads.
What Causes Blackheads?
Some common reasons that increase the chances of blackheads forming are:
- Age and Hormonal Changes – Reasons like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and the use of birth control pills can change the levels of hormones in the body to a great extent. Such hormonal changes can affect the production of the natural oil causing excess levels of sebum. Higher amounts of the natural oil on the skin’s surface tends to fill and eventually block the pores causing blackheads.
- Medicines – At times, the medication that you take to deal with other issues in the body can cause unnecessary side effects on the skin such as blackheads. Prescription medicines that contain estrogen, testosterone, lithium, and phenytoin have been shown to cause blackheads. Corticosteroids taken for their various effects on the body can also cause blackheads.
- Skin Products – Skin care and makeup products that are applied on the skin also contribute towards the clogging of pores and the eventual formation of blackheads. Although skin care products might not be the primary trigger, they may increase the number of blackheads. For example, the moisturizer being used can contain more oil than required and this extra oil clogs the hair follicles.
- Stress – Both physical and mental stress can wreak havoc with our endocrine system and lead to a disruption in the hormonal balance. As explained above, a hormonal imbalance causes increased oil production and worsens the blackhead condition.
- Caffeine And Alcohol – Your morning coffee mix may not be as beneficial as you think it is. An increased caffeine intake may increase oil production by the skin’s oil glands. As for alcohol, its intake can reduce the size of your pores making them more prone to being clogged as a lesser amount of oil and dead skin cells will be sufficient to block them.
- Food – Eating food items high in sugars, fats, and oils are known to affect the skin’s health and can accelerate the clogging of pores. Blackheads and whiteheads are initial manifestations that appear on the skin.
What Are The Symptoms Of Blackheads?
Due to their dark colour, blackheads are easy to spot, especially on the face. These dark coloured spots are slightly raised and are mostly seen on the nose, the skin around the nose, the chin, and sometimes on the cheeks as well. Another common skin condition that accompanies blackheads is enlarged pores. They are not painful like pimples.
How To Remove Blackheads?
Cosmetic Treatment Options
When it comes to professional and cosmetic treatments for blackheads, there are quite a few options available at cosmetic clinics. The commonly used blackhead removal treatments are given below.
- Prescription Medications – Dermatologists prescribe stronger medication to remove severe blackheads. These are usually topical medication that most commonly belong to the retinoid family. They can also contain tazarotene and adapalene. At times, internal medication like antibiotics is also prescribed. These medicines keep plugs from forming in the hair follicles and promote the more rapid turnover of skin cells.
- Chemical Peels – Chemical peels are formulated with naturally occurring acids. A non-toxic acidic solution of an appropriate strength (or concentration) is applied on the skin, which exfoliates the skin thoroughly. Exfoliation cleans the pores and gets rid of blackheads. Many times, the chemical peel is followed up with a manual extraction of the remaining comedones. Cosmetic clinics offer glycolic acid and salicylic acid options to remove blackheads.
- Manual Black Head Removal – A round loop extractor is used by dermatologists to remove blackheads manually. The blocked pores are unplugged first and then, by applying enough pressure, the blackheads are extracted. The amount of pressure to be applied and the angle at which the extractor needs to be placed is vital so that no scars are left behind. Professionals such as dermatologists or aestheticians are skilled at performing this procedure efficiently. Several blackhead removal tools are sold in the market. However, for safety purpose taking the help of a dermatologist is always advised.
- Microdermabrasion – This cosmetic treatment utilizes equipment with a rough surface with which the top layers of the skin are ‘sanded’ or scraped. As these layers get rubbed away, the blackheads are unplugged and removed.
- Laser And Light Therapy To Treat Blackheads – Depending on the underlying cause of your blackheads, a dermatologist can recommend laser or light therapy for blackhead treatment. Both the laser and light beams penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and regulate the natural oil production. Even bacteria are killed by these beams preventing infections from developing in the pores. When compared to other treatment methods, this method works in the lower layers of the skin without damaging the top layers.
Over The Counter Removal Treatments
OTC solutions are some of the most popular yet less effective methods to treat blackheads. For safety, you must consult a dermatologist before applying any of these.
- Salicylic Acid – Salicylic acid is an exfoliating acid that is added to many acne products and is available without a prescription. Regular usage of this helps to unclog the pores by removing dead skin cell build up that is blocking them. Cleansing with salicylic acid is good for people with oily skin, which is prone to developing blackheads. This is widely available in many blackhead removal solutions like creams, cleansers, scrubs, solutions, clearing gels, face wash and soap.
- Retinoids – Topical retinoids are prescribed by dermatologists for treating acne and pus-filled cysts. Over the counter versions of these are milder than those prescribed by skin specialists and can work well for blackhead removal. Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and helps the skin shed the keratin and top dead cell layer easily; this prevents clogging of pores. For existing blackheads, retinoids can loosen the dead cells in the pores and aid in easy blackhead removal. This is widely available over the counter in beauty care products, creams, acne serums, cleansing lotions and face wash.
Natural Removal Solutions
Removal strips, masks, remedies should be used with caution, as these can irritate and damage the skin. Here are some popular options:
- Blackhead Removal Strips – Another OTC treatment is blackhead removal strips. These strips claim to easily remove blackheads from your nose rings and chin. However, this is a temporary method and you need to use strips frequently. Also, the skin on your nose is delicate, so you may experience broken skin with regular usage of these strips.
- Home Remedies – Natural and home-based ingredients like toothpaste, baking soda, tomato juice, egg yolk, multani mitti (bentonite clay) steaming and jojoba oil are claimed to be effective in blackhead removal. However, such claims should be carefully examined. There is no evidence that home remedies actually help in blackhead treatment.
- Clay Or Charcoal Mask– Both charcoal and clay masks work by absorbing the impurities from the pores and cleaning them thoroughly. You can use them once or twice a week depending on how severe the blackheads on your face are. The charcoal mask is popularly sold under the name ‘blackhead removal black mask’ in the market.
How Much Does Blackhead Removal Cost In India?
The cost of blackheads extraction in India ranges between Rs. 1500 to Rs. 2500 per session. Total cost is subjective, however as it depends on several factors like experience of dermatologist, type of skin and underlying health condition.
How To Prevent Blackheads?
A pimple can form when blackheads become infected, and they develop inflammation and redness after. Comparatively, pimples are harder to treat which is why it is essential to get rid of blackheads at an earlier stage. Here are some simple tips you can follow at home to prevent blackhead:
- Avoid popping and squeezing blackheads. You should aim to decongest the skin gently by applying the right product.
- Follow a proper skin care and hair care routine. Using a deep cleanser followed by gentle exfoliation will help you.
- Wash your face regularly. While washing has little to moderate effect on this condition, it may help in conjunction with other blackhead removal treatments.
- Only use prescribed non-comedogenic products. Generally, the comedogenic ingredients are known to clog the pores worsening your blackheads.
- Use a “microfoliant” that will gently polish the skin helping keep it clean and clear.
- Always clean make up before going to bed. You may use a prescribed cleanser for this purpose.
- Always apply a prescribed moisturizer and sunscreen.
What Should You Do To Make The Results Permanent?
Even after the blackheads are gone, it is imperative that you take good care of your skin to prevent blackheads from forming again. The results will last a lot longer if you use a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer on a daily basis. This keeps the oil production under control when the right products that suit your skin type are used. Scrubs should be used once or twice a week to remove the dead skin cells from the surface.
If you are sceptical and unsure about the way to proceed with blackhead removal, consult a dermatologist for professional and sound advice.