What is blackheads? Cure Blackheads

What is blackheads?

Both blackheads and whiteheads are a type of non-inflammatory acne commonly known as comedone.

Blackheads, commonly known as opened comedones, are little bumps or plugs embedded into the pores of our skin, filled with keratin (sloughed off cells) and sebum (an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands), and have undergone a chemical reaction resulting in the oxidation of melanin, which produce a yellowish or blackish in color.
In contrast, whiteheads (also known as closed comedones), are pores that are filled with the same materials with blackheads (sebum & keratin), but have only a microscopic opening to the skin surface that is not open to the air. The lack of exposure to the air does not lead to the oxidation of melanin, thus the clogged materials stay white.
Blackheads and whiteheads usually concentrate in oily areas of the skin, such as the nose, forehead and chin. These areas of the face have more sebaceous glands than the cheeks and the neck. Blackheads or whiteheads can release its contents to the surface and heal. Or, the follicle wall can rupture and become inflammatory acne (papule, pustule, nodule or cyst). Inflammatory acne can break out and cause blemishes, large pores and eventually acne scars.

normal follicle

Causes of blackheads

A normal functioning pore produces a normal amount of sebum from the sebaceous glands to reach out onto the surface of skin through the Pilosebaceous duct (which is made up of the sebaceous glands, the hair follicle, and the hair strand itself). It melts into an imperceptible film forming a protective, healthy barrier over the skin. When the routes or Pilosebaceous duct is clogged or blocked, sebum is trapped within the pore and form comedones (blackheads or whiteheads).

Main causes of blackheads and whiteheads

1. Excessive sebum production
Blackheads and whiteheads normally happen to oily or combination skin type where sebaceous gland is active in producing excessive sebum.
During adolescence, sebaceous glands enlarge and produce more sebum under the influence of hormones androgens. After the age of 20+, sebum production begins to decrease.
Excessive sebum production is usually caused by seborrhea, a skin condition caused by overactive sebaceous glands.
Other factors that attribute to excessive sebum production or an overactive sebaceous glands includes:
Hormones changes or endocrinal imbalance:
Sebum production is controlled by hormones androgens, a hormone produced by the ovaries (or testes in men) and adrenal glands.
The body normally keeps androgens perfectly balanced, but sometimes body can produce too much androgens (known as androgen excess), which is common in early adolescence; or too much tension; or improper contraceptive medicines and antibiotics; or insufficient sleep; or genetic causes may disturb the balance of hormonal secretion.
Studies have shown that sebum production was significantly higher in the ovulation phase due to the influence of menstrual-cycle-regulated hormones Luteinising.
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2. Excessive build-up of dead skin cells
The skin epidermis layer is made up of 10 to 30 very thin layers which continually shed dead skin cells or keratin. This layer is sloughed off or desquamated continually as new cells take its place. These dead skin cells grow, mature, die, desquamate, and are carried to the surface of skin by the flow of sebum through the Pilosebaceous duct.
When the dead skin cells are not carried to the skin surface, they clog the Pilosebaceous duct, resulting in the sebum and the dead skin cells trapped inside the pores and form blackheads and whiteheads.
Some people have a skin condition in which the skin cells don not shed the way they should, creating a greater potential for occurrence of blackheads and whiteheads.
The cells function properly only if the skin is kept in a constant hydrated or moist state. A dehydrated pore debris may become dry, harden, and prone to build-up of dead skin cells, which block the Pilosebaceous duct.
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3. Some other causes of blackheads and whiteheads are humidity, environmental, improper use of skincare products or simply unhealthy lifestyle. Although poor hygiene alone is not the cause of blackheads, it does contribute.
Humidity causes people to perspire. When this sweat is combined with the sebum on the skin, there is a possibility of the pores to be blocked, and a blackhead to form.
Using skincare products or cosmetic that contain talc or waxes or petrochemical-based oils may contribute to a clogged pore as these products block the follicle opening and hamper the sebum secretion. These makeup and grease also tend to deposit in the skin pores and restrain the flow of sebum, resulting to what we know as blackheads and whiteheads.
Blackheads can also be formed from smoking, insufficient sleep, or unhealthy diet routines. All these leads to metabolic imbalance which turns the acidic skin into alkaline condition; where an alkaline skin is more prone to blackheads and other skin problems.
Prolonged contact with the sun without any protection will eventually cause the thickening of the skin, and can contribute to the blockage of follicles.

Get rid of blackheads

Unfortunately, blackheads are something most people will experience due to the skin’s constant sebum production and cell turnover.
However, there are a few things you can do:
1. Proper skincare routine
Choose products that are non-comedogenic and free from:
a. Lanolin – fatty substance obtained from sheep’s wool. It has moisturizing properties but also pore clogging capabilities.
b. Fragrance – artificial fragrance contributes to acne infections.
c. Mineral oil – this oil has been shown to cause pore clogging and aggravate blackheads.
d. Avoid using creamy, greasy and thick (emollient) products. This will help lessen your chances of sprouting blackheads.

2. Promote a healthy lifestyle
Lessen the pressure of life
Regular exercise helps flush out toxins in our body
Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily
Get sufficient and quality sleep for 8 hours
There is no hard and fast rule about what you should eat but you should stay away from alcohol, spicy and fried food and eat a healthy diet to prevent the formation of blackheads and whiteheads.
3. Common misperception in getting rid of blackheads and whiteheads
One of the common myths about blackheads is that they are black because there is dirt trapped in the pore, and you would probably work very hard to scrub out the dirt on a daily basis. Doing so will lead to skin irritation and the area will become extremely oily where more sebum is being pumped into the pores!
Using a pore strip is basically useless for getting rid of anything that’s stuck deep in your pores. The strip can actually damage your skin, causing skin irritation and increase sensitivity!
Another common myth by many is that getting a tan will help clear up blackheads and acne. Although it is true that the tan helps cover the redness or inflammation, overdoing it will lead to skin thickening and contribute to the clogging of the pores!
Squeezing blackheads or popping whiteheads is a tricky matter that often results in increased infection and possibly damaging the skin tissue, which leads to scarring. You should never perform extraction yourself as it should be performed by a skin specialist or esthetician and using the right methods and tools.
The use of facial blotter does indeed helps in oil controlling, but overusing it will strip off all sebum content on the skin, causing the sebaceous glands to produce even more to replace the lost sebum!

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