Blackheads - Do’s and Don’ts

Blackheads - Do's & Don'ts (Skyn Stories by Dr Meenu Sethi)
Blackheads - Do's & Don'ts (Skyn Stories by Dr Meenu Sethi)

Blackheads are formed due to too much production of sebum (an oily substance) from the sebaceous glands that gradually gets hardened when they mix with bacteria and dead skin cells. They appear as black spots and enlarged pores, especially around the nose, cheeks, and chin. Blackheads, also known as open comedones are basically debris (pollutants, keratin, dirt, dead skin cells and sweat) trapped beneath the layer of the skin’s surface. They appear dark and black in color as the sebum is exposed to the oxygen in the air. Blackheads occur mostly in people having an oily skin or have a tendency to get acne.

Causes of Blackheads -

  • Hormones - DHT or Dihydrotestosterone is a hormone that produces too much oil glands and skin pores are likely to get clogged if your body is producing too much oil.

  • Sleeping with Makeup On - There are palpable chances that you will have clogged pores if you go to sleep with makeup on as doing so will prevent the renewal process, causing damage to the skin. So, make sure to remove makeup before going to bed.

  • Sweat - Excessive sweating can clog up the pores. The problem can be amplified if you have makeup on while sweating.

  • Coffee and Alcohol - Alcohol reduces the size of your skin pores and coffee can stimulate the oil glands of your skin. Smoking also damages the surface of the skin causing blocked pores and dead cells.

  • Medicine - Medicines that are rich in steroids, testosterone, estrogen and phenytoin can cause many skin problems including blackheads.

Fortunately, blackheads are temporary and treatable. Here are a few tips to manage blackheads by making some changes in your skin care routine-

  • Keep Your Skin Clean - Blackheads are caused due to debris (pollutants, dirt, dead skin cells and sweat) that collects on the surface of your skin. Keep your skin clean and properly exfoliated to avoid clogged pores, which leads to blemishes and acne.

  • Don’t Pick - It may be tempting, but don’t ever try to remove blackheads with your finger as your hands are dirty and the content of blackheads will spread, which can lead to scarring and skin infections. Rather, put a warm compress on the affected area at night followed by a spot treatment. The compress will help soften the skin and open the pores.

  • Exfoliate Regularly - Use a gentle exfoliator many times a week to help remove stubborn dead skin cells that cleansing and rinsing might have missed. Avoid exfoliation if you have dry skin.

  • Wash Your Personal Items - Your phone touches your face a lot. So, be sure to wash it once a day to prevent the spread of bacteria.

  • Don’t Over Scrub - Over scrubbing can aggravate your problem and your blackhead will sheen more clearly than ever. Use a mild exfoliator to gently remove dead skin cells, but never ever rub the skin to deal with blackheads.

  • Over The Counter Treatment - Get a cleanser with salicylic acid and wash your face twice a day to unclog your pores and get rid of blackheads. You can also go for a cream or lotion containing benzoyl peroxide to reduce blackheads. Make sure your face is clean before applying the cream.

  • Use Retinoid - Retinoid being synthetic derivative of vitamin A can help unplug existing blackheads and also increase the effectiveness of other topical treatments.

  • Steam - Steaming your face is another effective method to open skin pores and softening the sebum plugs. Lower your face on top of steam that is coming out of the water, you may add lemon or any herb to get a comforting feel. Your skin will feel soft and smooth after 10 minutes. Now, pat dry with a towel.

  • Remove Makeup Before You Sleep - Makeup contains talc and titanium dioxide powder that can clog pores, so make sure to remove it before going to bed.

  • Diet - Increase your intake of vitamins A, C, and E in your diet. Thus, eat green leafy vegetables, asparagus, sweet potato, carrot, papaya, strawberries, and oranges.

  • Stay Hydrated - Drink 7-8 glasses of water every day to keep your skin soft and smooth naturally. Avoid excessive coffee consumption as it can dehydrate the body.

The safest way to treat blackheads is to visit a dermatologist as they will extract the blockage without damaging your skin. If nothing else works, then you may consider cosmetic procedures like laser treatment or non-invasive procedures like chemical peels or microdermabrasion.

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