To put it quite simply and nonmechanical, blackheads are little bumps embedded into the pores of our skin. They are usually yellowish or blackish in color. If you would like to get a little more technical, blackheads are a type of acne called an open comedone.
According to medical practitioners, blackheads are the first stage of acne, forming before bacteria invade the pores of our skin, which in turn, results in infection and inflammation, (otherwise known as the pimple). These lesions typically develop after puberty. It is at this time that hormones begin surging into the body and skin. The excess hormones in the skin result in stimulation of the oil gland. These glands are called sebaceous glands. This stimulation leads to excess oil production in the pores.
The excess oil gets occluded in the pores resulting in a ball of accumulated oil which when exposed to air, turns black in color. There are many conditions that may cause or even worsen blackheads. Some of these causes are the use of topical oils and the use of makeup. While blackheads are present in most any skin type, they are most likely to develop on people with very oily skin.
Common Blackhead Causes
As previously stated, blackheads usually develop when the skin produces too much oil. A major factor contributing to excess oil production is the onset of puberty. At this time, hormones become unregulated due to a by product called dihydrotestosterone or DHT This hormone results in the over activity of the oil gland which then results in clogged pores.
Another common cause of the appearance of blackheads is that the skin is has not been cleaned thoroughly. When skin is not cleaned properly, dead skin cells accumulate within the pores. These dead cells then clog the pore opening which then results in oil build up, which we already know causes blackheads to form. Yet another cause of clogged pores is the use of too much makeup. Excessive use of moisturizes, foundations or sun screens can also have the same effect as the overuse of makeup.
A good rule of thumb to always follow is that whatever is it you put on your face throughout the day, be sure to take it off before going to sleep that night. Although thorough cleansing is essential, over-scrubbing or cleansing has been found to be one of the reasons for skin's anomalies and irritation. Although excessive oil is not beneficial, our skin needs a small amount to stay healthy. Too much scrubbing or irritation of the skin will result in reflex over activity of the oil gland. This will result in increased oil production and clogging of the pores, which, in turn, aggravates acne.
Regular cleansing is recommended to everyone, whether blackheads are present or not. Initial symptoms of blackheads are not visible to the naked eye. As we spoke about earlier, if your skin is left unclean, more dirt is attracted to the skin. What starts out as yellow blackheads then turns into black, hard bumps which are difficult to extract. For this reason is always suggested to keep skin cleaned thoroughly.
You can extract blackheads yourself if there is no sign of infection on or surrounding the blemish. If attempting to extract the blackhead yourself, always be sure to use sterile materials. It is also advised to be certain your environment is extremely clean. As suggested by skin experts, the first step would be to steam your skin for several minutes. The best way to do this is to place your face over a bowl of very hot water. It is also recommended to hold a towel over your head to keep in the steam. This will loosen the pores and make the extraction process less painful. Be careful not to scold yourself.
It is preferable to use a flat blackhead remover, or a comedone extractor to remove blackheads. You can find this product at any beauty store. It is highly recommended not to attempt to extract aggravated, inflamed or infected acne lesions since this will worsen the acne and can cause scarring.
If you are unsure of your ability to extract blackheads, it is recommended to visit a professional. Aestheticians and dermatologist clinics offer deep cleansing facial treatments designed to keep skin clear of black or white heads. The cost of these treatments may be a little high for your budget, but most are happy with the results and feel it is worth it in the long run.
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Richard Sutter is team member of Clearogen, an acne prevention company providing new technological advances in preventing acne and blackheads. Visit www.clearogen.com today.
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