Effective Blackhead Treatment
Blackheads--also known as open comedones--are a type of acne. They are created when excess sebum oil from the sebaceous glands secretes onto the skin. This oil, along with dirt and dead skin cells, then clogs the hair follicles. When these clogged pores remain open they react with oxygen and turn black-- forming blackheads, according to MayoClinic.com.
A number of home remedies and over-the-counter products exist for blackheads, but it is always advisable to check with a dermatologist before beginning any treatments.
Surprisingly, there is little known about the causes of increased sebum oil and creation of blackheads. Acne is not caused by poor personal hygiene nor through a bad diet of greasy foods and chocolate. Studies are ongoing regarding whether high starch and carbohydrate foods such as breads and potatoes are a cause. It is believed that blackheads and acne in general are largely a hereditary trait or hormonal, although professionals note that certain bacteria and medications can be an influence.
It is agreed by professionals that there are certain factors that can increase the risks of developing blackheads and acne in general. Hormonal changes seem to heighten the likelihood of an outbreak during times such as the teenage years, menstrual cycles, pregnancy and the use of hormonal influencing medications.
The risk of developing acne is thought to increase with the application of oily cosmetic products, exposure to the sun, profuse sweating and the rubbing of skin by tight clothing.
Benzoyl peroxide is a organic compound found in many over-the-counter creams, lotions and liquids for the treatment of blackheads and mild acne. Benzoyl peroxide is generally used one to two times daily on cleansed skin and can take up to four to six weeks to see results, according to MedlinePlus.
Salicylic acid is another over-the-counter treatment, which is available as an ingredient in cleansers, lotions and masks. Salicylic acid works by getting inside the clogged pore and clearing away the dirt and oil within.
To help prevent blackhead breakouts, avoid skin irritants like facial scrubs and greasy cosmetics that will make the skin oily.
There are stronger treatments available for non-responders or for more severe cases. Topical lotions such as tretinoin and adapaline, rich in vitamin A, are available with a prescription.
Antibiotics and isotretinoin, commercially known as Accutane, are also a prescription option for doctors and dermatologists. However, these drugs can cause severe side effects and monitoring by a professional is standard.
Cosmetic procedures to effectively treat blackheads involve removing the outer layer of skin. This can be done via heated lasers or forms of polishing like dermabrasion and microdermabrasion.
These procedures, as well as the prescription medicines,are very effective at removing blackheads and acne scarring but are best reserved mainly for severe cases, or in situations where the patient is suffering psychologically.
A dermatologist or licensed cosmetologist may manually remove blackheads by using a special blackhead extractor tool. This metal tool, called a comedone extractor, has a hole on one end, which is used to apply pressure to the blackhead to force the oil and dirt out of the pore. The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library notes this is an effective blackhead treatment option for patients who are unresponsive to topical treatments.
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