An Area of Tiny Concentrated Blackheads
Blackheads are a result of overproduction of sebum, the skin's natural oil, combining with dirt, bacteria, cosmetics and dead skin cells to clog the pores. During the teenage years, when hormone levels surge, it is common to see small areas of concentrated blackheads on the face, particularly in the crevices beside the nose. Adults also can experience an increase in blackheads during times of high hormone production, such as menstruation or pregnancy.
Blackheads appear as tiny, dark spots the size of pinpricks. They tend to occur in clusters on oily parts of the skin. The nose is one common site, although they may also cluster on other parts of the body rich in sebaceous glands, such as the chin, hairline, chest or back. The medical term for a blackhead is "open comedone," with pus-filled whiteheads known as "closed comedones." Blackheads get their characteristic color from exposure to air, turning dark as a result of oxidation.
Blackheads can leave you feeling self-conscious about your appearance, which can decrease self-esteem. In addition, a blackhead that becomes infected or inflamed can fill with pus and become a closed comedone, or whitehead. By extracting blackheads, you prevent them from turning into pimples. Treating acne early also may help boost your confidence in your appearance.
Home remedies for loosening and preventing blackheads are abundant. According to GrannyMed.com, a home remedy website, the citric acid from tomatoes, limes and lemons makes an effective blackhead treatment. Iodine mixed with Epsom salt and boiling water and applied to areas of concentrated blackheads is another home remedy. The New Zealand Dermatological Society states that using a salicylic acid-based cleanser also may help. In addition, a variety of blackhead removal tools are available in pharmacies and beauty supply stores, ranging from small metal loops to more complex suction devices. Before using these products, steam your face by leaning over a pot of boiling water to soften blackheads and make them easier to remove.
According to the New Zealand Dermatological Society, salicylic acid, derived from willow bark, dries up excess oil and prevents new blackheads from forming. Keeping your skin clean and your hands away from your face lessens the surface dirt and bacteria that can lead to blackheads. Medicated acne pads saturated with salicylic acid also may be helpful. Carry the pads with you and use them throughout the day to keep your skin clean at times when you are unable to wash your face.
You could scar your skin if you attempt to squeeze blackheads without softening them first. It is also possible to transmit bacteria from unwashed hands, so always wrap your fingertips in tissue before attempting manual blackhead extraction. If blackheads continue to return despite your efforts, a dermatologist can prescribe topical or oral medication to help eradicate them.
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