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Tips on Blackheads

Tips on Blackheads Tips on Blackheads

Blackheads, or open comedones, occur when excess oil, dirt and dead skin cells mix together and form a plug in a pore. The black color comes from contact of the oil with oxygen in the environment. Blackheads may become inflamed and infected without treatment, which can lead to more severe acne and potential scarring. Minor cases of blackheads respond to proper skin care techniques and over-the-counter acne treatments.

Don't Scrub

Harsh facial cleansers and excessive exfoliation irritate the skin and can worsen acne, according to the Mayo Clinic. Instead, wash twice each day using a mild soap and warm water. Exfoliate a few times each week with a fine-grained product to get rid of dead skin cells and prevent pores from clogging.

Don't Squeeze

It may be difficult to resist the temptation to squeeze a blackhead out of your skin, but picking at or squeezing them is rarely effective at removing the blackhead, and it may increase redness and inflammation. The Mayo Clinic states that picking at acne can also lead to infection or permanent scarring.

Beware of Pore Strips

Pore strips for blackhead removal are available in most pharmacies and retail stores. These products are typically strips of adhesive paper that claim to pull blackheads from the skin. While these products may work on blackheads that are very near the skin's surface, they are not very effective for deeper blackheads. Moreover, the adhesive in these strips may cause skin irritation and increase inflammation, and the strips do not address the underlying reasons for the development of blackheads.

OTC or Prescription Medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as those containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur and resorcinol can prevent blackhead formation by drying up excess oil, encouraging sloughing of dead cells, and killing bacteria, according to the Mayo Clinic. Prescription medications may be necessary when OTC treatments fail to improve acne. Prescription topicals, such as tretinoin and tazarotene, are often used in conjunction with oral antibiotics.


Hormonal imbalances are a main cause of blackheads and acne, which is why teenagers are more prone to acne than other age groups. Medications are available to balance hormone levels and prevent the overabundance of androgens that triggers excessive oil production in men and women. The Mayo Clinic states that contraceptives containing a combination of ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate effectively control acne in women.

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