Blackheads – What are they?
In layman terms, we can describe blackhead as a bumpy black colored appearance on the skin surface. They basically occur due to clogged skin pores. If we had to talk in scientific terms, a blackhead is nothing but a comedy, which is a blocked hair follicle.
As we know our skin has pores which contain hair follicles from where new hair growth happens. When these hair follicles get clogged with excessive oil (called sebum), dirt, skin debris etc. blackheads appear. Blackheads are usually blackish spot-like in appearance that’s why the name, and when these clogged blackheads get covered with the skin they appear white in color and are called whiteheads.
Facial blackheads are very commonly observed and surely everyone has experienced this at least once in a lifetime. However, apart from a face, the areas like neck, shoulder, back, chest etc. can also get blackheads.
What Triggers The Appearance of Blackheads?
The main reasons for developing blackheads are skin exposure to dirt, pollution, bacteria, excessive facial oil secretion, etc. Apart from the major factors causing blackheads, there are some triggering factors that result in an excessive appearance of blackheads. Let us have a look at these factors:
#01. Hormonal Changes:
When you step into your teenage years your body usually undergoes a lot of hormonal changes which result in increased oil production and the eventual appearance of blackheads and whiteheads. In addition, females experience phases of hormonal imbalance during pregnancy, menopause and irregular periods which can also trigger blackhead formation.
#02. Excessive Sebum Production:
Some of us tend to have oily skin which results in excessive oil formation by the skin; which is called excess sebum formation. This sebum is mainly responsible for blocking your skin pores which eventually results in ugly blackheads.
#03. Use of Certain Medications:
Some medicines like hormonal pills or steroidal drugs (corticosteroids) etc. might also result in triggering blackheads.
#04. A Not So Healthy Diet:
Some studies have claimed that eating excessive carbohydrates, excess sugar, junk food or processed food and reducing intake of fresh fruits, vegetables and fluids is a major reason for developing blackheads.
#05. Irregular Skin-Care:
As a result of your hectic routine, skin care regime gets ignored. Lack of scrubbing and cleansing causes accumulation of dead cells which eventually causes pore blockage and blackheads.
Is There Any Difference Between Acne And Blackheads?
You can say that acne is the advanced form of blackheads. When the blackheads are attacked by germs and bacteria, the clogged pore gets inflamed and therefore appears reddish. This combination of debris, sebum, clogged pores, and bacterial inflammation results in acne/pimple formation over your skin. In either case, it is very important for us to take good care of skin and keep it clean and healthy. We will be discussing some really good tips in the coming few sections.
Common Myths Surrounding Blackheads:
Now before we discuss tips to get rid of blackheads, let us break some common myths surrounding it.
Myth 1: Makeup Causes Blackheads/Acne:
Fact – makeup might result in pore clogging but it doesn’t cause blackheads. Not removing makeup properly might definitely lead to blackheads. Therefore thorough skin cleansing at the end of the day is very important.
Myth 2: Excessive Scrubbing Helps in Clearing Off Blackheads:
Fact – although exfoliating your skin is essential, excessive scrubbing might even damage your skin. All you need to do is moderate skin exfoliation to remove dead skin cells about twice a week.
Myth 3: Blackheads is Only Dirt Stuck in My Skin:
Fact – you might be thinking that these black dots on my nose are just dirt and if I wash it many times and wash it nicely, they will disappear. That is just a myth. Fact is blackheads are not just dirt particles even though they are black in color; they require proper skin care including exfoliation, cleansing and also a good diet.
Myth 4: It’s Just A Teenage Problem; I’ll Get Rid of It Once I Grow Up:
Fact – you can say that blackhead formation might worsen during teenage however it is not just a teenage problem. Blackheads can appear throughout your lifetime if proper and adequate care is not taken.
Myth 5: Sunscreen Causes Acne/Blackheads:
Fact – sunscreen rather protects your skin and prevents skin damage from harmful UV rays. The only thing to be remembered is proper cleansing at the end of the day.
How Can We Get Rid of Blackheads Home Remedies?
There are several ways of removing blackheads. You can either use medicines for removing and preventing blackheads or take a natural way. The choice of treatment should ideally depend on the severity of blackheads and also how frequently you experience them. Do not forget to consult a dermatologist in case the blackheads are very severe and frequently recurring.
#01. Manual Removal:
Dermatologists or skin specialists have a specific set of instruments which is used for manually removing blackheads.
#02. Chemical Skin Peels:
Chemical skin peels are nothing but certain chemicals which when applied on your skin remove the dead skin cells and thus help in removing blackheads. An expert skin care professional is essential for applying chemical peels.
#03. Laser Skin Treatment:
Laser treatment for blackheads employs high energy laser beams which are put on the affected surface. This helps in opening the clogged pores, reducing the oil release from the skin and also in killing the inflammation causing bacteria. Laser skin treatment for blackheads must be performed in skin clinics specially dedicated for this purpose.
This is a medical procedure which exfoliates and scrubs your skin surface which eventually helps in opening clogged pores.
#05. Herbal or Home Remedies:
1. Skin Packs Containing Adsorbing Substances:
Zinc Calamine lotion is one excellent example of adsorbent skin packs. These types of skin packs must be applied to the affected area and kept for about 1-2 hours. Their main action is to absorb the dirt and debris from the clogged pore and thus eventually open the pore. Using these adsorbant skin packs on a regular interval helps in keeping the skin clean and free of blackheads.
2. Baking Soda:
Baking soda can be mixed with lukewarm water to make a smooth paste. You can simply apply this paste on the skin surface and gently massage it for 5-10 minutes. Doing this will kill the topical bacteria and also open the blocked pores as baking soda is both antibacterial and exfoliating in nature.
3. Walnut Scrub:
Walnut scrub or even apricot scrub which you can easily find in stores is one of the most beneficial skin scrubbing agents. You can gently massage the affected area with this scrub for 5-10 min twice a week. Just one thing to be taken care of is the oil content of the product. Make sure the scrub you are using doesn’t have an oil base.
4. Sugar/Honey Scrub:
A natural scrub made by mixing sugar or honey in water can be used to make an exfoliating scrub for removing blackheads. It proves to be effective when used regularly. Egg-white is also an excellent exfoliating agent which can be used to remove blackheads.
Steaming will help you open up the pores. You can either use a steaming machine or simply used hot boiling water and cover your head with a towel while taking steam from the vessel. The ideal approach is to take steam for 4-5 minutes then clean and wash your face and again repeat the same procedure.
6. Use a Pore Strip:
Pore strips also called blackhead removal strips are rectangular strips which help in removing blackheads. They are semi-adhesive in nature and tend to pull out the blackheads. These strips are easy to use and are conveniently available in the market.
In very severe cases of blackheads, medications are prescribed. These can either be given as a tablet or as topical creams, gels, ointment etc. You can also use face wash containing benzoyl peroxide which is very effective and available over the counter. In very severe cases, antibiotics are given to reduce the skin infection if any.
Is There A Way to Prevent Blackheads From Appearing Again And Again?
Yes, definitely you can prevent blackheads from coming. Let us see how.
#01. Proper Skin Care Regime:
It is of utmost importance that you have a proper skin care regime. This involves cleaning your face at regular time intervals.
#02. Using Skin Products Which Are Oil-Free:
Using skin products that are oil-free is also necessary as excessive oil tends to block hair follicles which are the main trigger for blackhead formation. It is advisable to use gel based or water based skincare/ makeup products.
#03. Gentle Scrubbing And Exfoliation:
It is advisable that you scrub, exfoliate and cleanse your skin on regular time intervals. This avoids clogging by removing the skin debris and also keeps your skin fresh and glowing.
#04. Eating Healthy:
Last but not at all the least, eating a balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables and drinking plenty of fluids is essential as it helps in removing toxins from the body. It is advisable to reduce the amount of sugar and processed foods to prevent blackheads from recurring frequently. Exercising is important as it increases blood flow which overall helps in maintaining healthy skin.