Blackheads & Clogged Pores
Blackheads commonly develop on the face and back where oil production and irritation can lead to blocked pores. Blackheads look like specks of black dirt on the skin and can be unsightly and may lead to infected pores and redness. Blackheads can be prevented with careful cleaning and an informed use of the appropriate facial products.
Blackheads are a form of acne called open comedones. Excess oil, dirt and skin cells become compacted in the pore and then oxidize, turning black. Blackheads are common in the cheeks and nose area or T zone, where oil production is greatest.
Blackheads differ from what are commonly referred to as pimples in that blackheads are an early stage of acne whereas pimples are examples of the advanced stage. Blackheads are open to the air and are non-inflamed so they do not yet exhibit the infection that leads to the pustules, which are trademarks of pimples.
Increased hormone activity during puberty, pregnancy or while taking certain drugs can result in overproduction of oil in the pores. When too much oil and dead skin cells become trapped in the pores they form a plug.
Clogged pores and blackheads can also result from the overuse of makeup, lotions and sunscreen or from inadequate cleaning. As dirt and dead skin cells are allowed to accumulate they can fill the pores. At the other end of the spectrum, overly vigorous cleaning can stimulate overproduction of oil, also leading to clogged pores and blackheads.
Blackheads can be extracted by a skin care specialist or at home with careful sterilization. Specialized comedone extraction tools are available to apply pressure to the skin and squeeze the blackheads out without scarring or infection.
To combat the accumulation of debris on the skin, regular cleansing with a product made for your skin type is necessary. Using a product that is too harsh for your skin may irritate it and cause it to overproduce oil. Use makeup and lotions that state that they are oil-free and non-comedogenic, and make sure to remove them before sleeping. Avoid clothing that irritates your skin.
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