Blackheads in Children
Many people associate blackheads with the teenage years, but children can get blackheads, too. Acne is genetic, so if you had acne at some point in your life, your child is more likely to suffer her share of breakouts. Most cases of blackheads are part of growing up, but for some children, acne can signal a medical abnormality, which should be checked out by a physician.
A preteen gets acne when one of his pores clogs with too much bacteria, dead skin cells and the oil called sebum. If your child is going through puberty, his body may be producing too much sebum. When the pore clogs but stays open and the surface turns black or dark, it's a blackhead. When the bump becomes infected, it turns red, forming a pimple. If there area is clogged and closed, the bump is a whitehead.
Your child can prevent blackheads by taking proper care of her skin. She should wash her face twice daily with warm water and a gentle cleanser. She should also wash her face after sweating. If she wears makeup, buy only products that say "oil-free," "noncomedogenic" or "nonacnegenic." She should keep her hair clean and keep hair styling products and baseball caps away from her skin, as these can contribute to blackheads. Your child should never touch her acne, and should avoid harsh cleansers, masks and scrubs.
For mild to moderate blackheads, an over-the-counter product may suffice. Products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as the active ingredient are best, says MayoClinic.com. If after eight weeks you don't see any improvement in your child's blackheads, he may need a stronger, doctor-prescribed cream, such as one containing tretinoin, adapalene or tazarotene. The doctor can also prescribe an antibiotic to reduce inflammation and kill any bacteria.
Infantile acne most commonly occurs in children ages 6 months to 2 years. Boys are more likely to have infantile acne. The exact cause of infantile acne is unknown, but researchers believe the hormonal changes that occur when the fetus develops may be the cause, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Infantile acne includes blackheads and whiteheads, and generally erupts on the nose or cheeks. In most cases, the breakout clears on its own within weeks. You should not use an acne treatment for these blackheads.
Blackheads should not persist for more than several weeks in an infant or young child. Persistent infantile acne may be a sign of early hormone production, growth abnormality or developmental abnormality. Certain medications can also cause infantile acne. Contact your doctor if the acne persists or gets worse. A child between the ages of 2 and 6 should not have any blackheads, as this stage in life, called the "acne-free zone." Consult a dermatologist if your child has acne from ages 2 to 6.
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