Blackhead Acne Treatment
About 40 to 50 million people in the United States suffer from acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Blackhead pimples, also known as comedones, are caused when the flow of skin oil is blocked. Excessive washing won't clear blackheads and can irritate your skin. If washing your skin with a gentle cleanser doesn't ward off breakouts, you may need to improve your skin-cleansing routine.
A blackhead is a lesion that occurs when the hair follicle opens and the sebum, which is the oil produced by the sebaceous gland, changes color because of its exposure to oxygen. The skin pigment inside the sebum turns dark brown or black. A blackhead pimple is not filled with dirt and cannot be washed away. Blackheads last longer than other blemishes, according to Acne.org, a website about acne treatment, because it takes time for the contents of the follicle to drain. Blackheads are considered noninflammatory acne.
Salicylic acid is one of the best over-the-counter medications used to treat acne, according to Daniel Kern, founder of Acne.org. Salicylic acid slows the shedding of skin cells inside the hair follicle and helps prevent the pore from clogging with bacteria and sebum. The medication is also known to help break down blackheads.
Prescription medications for the treatment of blackheads should be considered only for moderate to severe acne, MayoClinic.org says. Tretinoin (sold as Retin-A, Renova and Avita), adapalene (sold as Differin) and tazarotene (sold as Avage and Tazorac) are derivatives of vitamin A used to promote cell regeneration. They also help prevent the hair follicle from plugging with bacteria, skin cells and oil. Topical antibiotics are used to treat blackheads as well. They work by killing the bacteria that cause lesions to form.
Prescription acne medication should be used only for chronic acne that's moderate or severe. These medications can cause side effects such as inflammation and burning. Using antibiotics for treating acne may be helpful for your skin but can also lead to antibiotic resistance. However, reports the Mayo Clinic, "Studies have found that using topical benzoyl peroxide along with oral antibiotics may reduce the risk of developing antibiotic resistance." Antibiotics can also cause stomach upset and dizziness. In addition, they increase sensitivity to the sun and can interfere with the action of birth control pills.
If your acne has not responded to other treatments, you might consider laser treatment. Laser therapy works by killing P. acnes, the bacterium that clogs pores and causes lesions to form. Omeed Memar, M.D., a clinical assistant professor at Northwestern University, explains that blue light therapy uses a pulsating, low-intensity light laser to destroy the sebaceous glands and reduce the production of sebum.
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