***Blackheads affect people of all age groups, but teenagers experience it the most. In this blog post we discuss some effective ways to get rid of blackheads. ***
Blackheads are small, raised, skin coloured bumps with black centres on the skin, occurring due to clogged hair follicles. They mostly occur on the face, but can also occur on other parts of the body, like- back, neck, arms, chest, shoulders, etc. Blackheads are completely symptomless and painless. Sometimes, they get infected, leading to pain and inflammation, thus forming pimples. Underlying are the causes, symptoms and treatment for blackheads.
***Cause: ***Blackheads are formed when the opening of a hair follicle is clogged. This may be due to excess oil or sebum, or even dead skin cells. A hair follicle contains a sebaceous gland, which produces oil. When excess oil or sebum is produced, the hair follicle gets blocked, which produces a bump causing a white head at first. Once the skin over the bump breaks, and it opens, a blackhead is formed due to exposure to the environment, causing a change in colour.
Other Causative Factors:
- Blackheads are more commonly found if you have oily skin type due to the excess sebum production.
- Build-up of dead skin cells is another causative factor.
- They are more commonly seen during the phases of hormonal changes, like the ones occurring during teenage years or during a menstruation cycle. In addition to this, certain drugs are also known to alter hormonal mechanism and contribute to the appearance of blackheads. These drugs include- oral contraceptives and oral corticosteroids.
- Diet also has an effect on the appearance of blackheads. A diet which is too oily or too rich in carbohydrates and fats, is known to be a contributing factor to the appearance of blackheads.
- Colonisation of microorganisms, particularly Propionibacterium is also known to cause the appearance of blackheads along with inflammation of the skin.
***Prevention and Treatment: ***They are the most common type of skin disorder, affecting multiple people, but it is a completely painless and symptomless phenomenon and can be easily managed by altering diet and skincare routines.
Wash your face regularly:
- Washing your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser helps clean away all the excess oil and sebum that builds up.
- You should ideally wash your face in the morning and before going to bed at night. This helps wash away the excess oil accumulated in your hair follicle.
Exfoliate your skin regularly:
- Exfoliating the skin gently and regularly helps remove dead skin cells and thus prevents them from clogging your pores.
- A good quality exfoliating scrub or mask can be applied to the skin to get rid of blackheads as well as dead skin cells. This should be done once or a maximum of twice per week.
Using oil-free products:
- Any skin product that contains oils in any amounts must be avoided, to avoid adding on to the current build-up of oil.
- Oil-free moisturisers, sunscreens and other products must only be used.
Taking care of oily skin:
- Washing your face with warm water, instead of cold helps dissolve excess oil or sebum.
- Using blotting papers from time to time helps to soak the excess sebum.
Fast foods, junk foods and foods containing excess of oils must be avoided, as they lead to excess oil production, which causes the hair follicles to get blocked, causing blackheads.
This includes various creams, gels and pads which are available as over-the-counter treatments, and are to be directly applied to the skin. They do not need a prescription.
They contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, etc. and help to absorb excess oils, and also to shed dead skin cells and kill bacteria, thus preventing blackheads.
When over-the-counter treatment doesn’t seem to work, a dermatologist needs to be visited in order to seek medical care for blackheads. Generally, medications containing Vitamin A are prescribed as they prevent the oil plug from forming and promote rapid turnover of dead skin cells.
Manual removal of the blackheads by a dermatologist or a trained professional involves the removal of blackheads with a special round loop extractor to remove the oil plug causing blackheads.
These are the third line treatment. Usually the appearance of blackheads disappears before opting for these treatments.
- Chemical peels:
In this process, chemical products are applied to the skin and left for a while, until the top layer of the skin gets gently exfoliated, revealing soft, smooth skin which is free of blackheads underneath.
In this process, the dermatologist uses particular instruments to finely abrade and finish the skin, leaving behind soft skin, which is free of acne and blackheads.
- Laser and Light Therapies:
They target the sub-surface layer of the skin, to reach out to acne and blackheads, without damaging the top layer of the skin, which stays intact.
Both these processes use tiny beams of intense light at the sub-surface level, which is used to reduce oil production or kill the bacteria causing blackheads.
Thry are one of the most common skin disorder, affecting millions of people. Even though they are usually completely symptomless and painless they need to be treated so you can look your best.
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