What are blackheads?

Blackheads are ugly, tough to get rid of and unfortunately common. Blackheads are a type of comedone formed when the blockage interfering with the pore is exposed to air, where the blockage hardens and takes on its characteristic dark hue.

Many people resort to squeezing, poking and even picking at blackheads with a needle. All these are bad ideas. Blackheads can be prevented and even removed with the proper types of anti acne skin care.

How blackheads form

Blackheads are one of two types of comedones. A comedone is basically a blocked pore. A pore can become blocked from keratinized (hardened) sebum or from dead skin cells. Once this blockage has formed, if it is above the surface of the skin, the blockage slowly takes on a dark color from melanin or pigment. These are called blackheads.

It's important to note that blackheads have nothing to do with dirt. Some mistakenly think that blackheads are a sign of poor hygiene, but this is not the case.

Prevention of blackheads

There are many steps one can take to aid in prevention of blackheads. These include:

Exfoliation - proper exfoliation of the skin helps to prevent the formation of blockages from dead skin cells. Gentle exfoliation can be performed daily, greatly reducing the number of blackheads. Exfoliation can even help to keep the sebaceous glands healthy.

Cleansing - cleansing the skin can help to remove the oils that can form the glue that holds blackheads together.

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Oxidation - products such as benzoyl peroxide have an oxidizing action that helps to break up blackheads.

Pore cleansing strips - this type of product acts like flypaper, gluing itself to blackheads for easy extraction. Pore strips should only be used on the nose.

Suction device - several of these exist, designed to use suction to remove blackheads. These products can be effective if used gently.

What doesn't help get rid of blackheads

Many people have their own methods of dealing with blackheads. Unfortunately, these remedies usually do more harm than good. The extraction of blackheads is a delicate procedure and should be left to experts.

Do not try to squeeze blackheads out. Nearly everyone does this. What most people don't realize is that squeezing can have the opposite of the intended effect, driving the blackheads deeper into the skin and making the blockage more severe. Additionally, excessive squeezing can actually bruise and damage the skin.

Do not try to remove blackheads by picking at them. This can introduce bacteria into the pores and cause an infection, as well as damaging the skin.

Do not try steaming your face to remove blackheads. Steaming the face can cause spider veins to surface. Application of a warm cloth is a gentler way to open up the pores.

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