How to Treat Blackheads & Whiteheads
Blackheads and whiteheads are two skin conditions that stem from the same cause: when oil and bacteria become trapped in the pores, and cause what is known as a microcomedone to occur. Think of a microcomedone as a plug that keeps the skin's natural oils from coming to the surface that builds up beneath the pore. When a whitehead occurs, the microcomedone is trapped below the skin and looks like a small white spot. Conversely, a blackhead is when the buildup comes to the surface. When the oil hits the skin, it changes to brown or black in color. Because each condition takes an extended period of time to develop, they too take time to go away if left untreated.
Wash your face twice daily with a cleanser that contains vitamin A or some form of alpha hydroxy acid. These cleansers help to encourage cell turnover, which can help unclog the pores from the oil or dead skin that can build up inside. Washing twice a day will give you the assurance that the day's (or night's) dirt and debris have been properly removed.
Apply a non-alcohol-based toner (meaning it is non-drying) to your face with a cotton ball following your cleansing routine. Following a cleanser with a toner helps to restore your skin's pH balance, meaning blackheads and whiteheads are better able to absorb topical applications, such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
Apply a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment to your blackheads or whiteheads. Because benzoyl peroxide is available in different strengths, decide which to use based on the sensitivity or dryness of your skin. The highest amount you should use is 10 percent, while those with sensitive skin should utilize one with 3 to 5 percent. The benzoyl peroxide encourages peeling within the pore, which can expedite blackhead or whitehead removal as well as prevent future blemishes from forming.
Apply a daily sunscreen or moisturizer with a sunscreen. Sun exposure has been associated with enlarged pores and exacerbating whiteheads or blackheads. Protect your skin now and in the future with a sunscreen that prevents blackheads and whiteheads. Purchase one that is labeled "non-comodegenic," which means it will not clog your pores.
Rub an exfoliating scrub onto your face twice weekly. The scrub should have uniform (not jagged-edge) beads and can help to further lift dead skin cells and debris from the blackhead or whitehead. While this will not "pull" the blackhead or whitehead out, it can help to reduce the oil and bacteria contained within.
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