Causes & Remedies for Blackheads
Blackheads are a skin condition where the skin takes on black bumps roughly the size of a pinhead. These bumps can appear on the face, arms, back or chest. While many associate blackheads with teenagers (chiefly due to excessive hormone production), blackheads can occur in those as young as infancy. Because there are many different causes related to blackheads, it is first important to identify the chief causes, then work to reduce these factors.
Blackheads result when the openings in the skin called follicles or pores become clogged with oil. The oil then plugs the follicle opening and accumulates. When the oil is eventually exposed to air, the oil turns black. Blackheads are often a precursor to acne pimples and also are known as open comedones.
Now that you know why a blackhead results, it is important to know why a blackhead can begin. The first reason is a hormonal one. During times of hormone fluctuations, such as puberty, excess amounts of oil can be produced, which can clog the pores. Another contributing factor is the failure to wash the face thoroughly enough, which can leave excess oil on the skin and result in breakouts. However, scrubbing the skin too hard can cause the the skin to increase in oil production, which causes more blackheads as well.
First Steps in Blackhead Treatment
Treatment for blackheads should begin with a good cleansing regimen. The face should be washed twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening, typically before bed. The cleanser should be one that is oil-free as this will result in less oil to clog pores. Other creams, lotions or makeup that contains oil also should be avoided.
Many people attempt to extract blackheads by pinching the skin to coax the blackhead to come out. However, this process can cause further infection and even scarring of the face. Extraction of blackheads is possible, but a few precautions should be taken. These include steaming the face beforehand to open up the pores more. Warm a bowl of hot water, then place your face over it with a towel over your head for up to five minutes. Purchase a flat blackhead remover at the local beauty supply store in order to carefully extract the blackhead.
In addition to blackhead removal, a variety of over-the-counter topical treatments are available in order to eliminate and even prevent blackheads. These include lotions or spot treatments that contain salicylic acid, sulfur, lactic acid or benzoyl peroxide. If success is not experienced with these treatments, a physician may prescribe stronger medications, such as Retin-A or Benzaclin, or even medications taken by mouth, such as Accutane. For some women, oral contraceptives are helpful in clearing the skin as the pills help to regulate hormones.
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