Women are well aware of how ugly blackheads can look, and just how easily they can spoil our look for that special occasion. We spend hours sitting through painful procedures at parlors to get rid of ugly blackheads that cover up our noses and cheeks. But do you know the medical causes of a blackhead? Yes, you read that right, a blackhead is essentially a medical skin condition, just like a pimple or an acne.
Most people consider them a stain on their natural beauty. A very natural occurrence in most people, blackheads are a very common problem that occurs in the facial area, particularly around the nose.
Blackheads are characterized by small dot-like bumps that come up on the skin resulting from hair follicles that get clogged. They are referred to as "blackheads" because the surface where they appear is dark, dull, and black. Blackheads normally appear on the face, but in some cases, they can also appear on the back, neck, chest, arms, and shoulders. While blackheads and acne are terms that can be used synonymously, they are different skin conditions.
How do blackheads appear?
Blackheads appear due to clogs formed in the opening of small pores that contain hair follicles. Each follicle consists of two parts: one being the hair and the other being a sebaceous gland that secretes a skin oil known as sebum. The sebum regulates moisture in the skin and keeps it soft and naturally moisturized. When the skin cells die, these dead cells accumulate at the opening of the skin follicles along with the oil and cause a bump to appear, which is known as a comedone. When the skin on top of the bump remains closed, it is known as a whitehead. However, when it opens up and exposed to the air and outside environment, it shows a dark appearance leading to the formation of blackheads.
Facts About Blackheads You Should Know
Usually, blackheads are the first signs of acne. Here are some key facts about blackheads that you should be well aware of, particularly if you have this skin condition.
- Blackheads occur due to an excessive production of sebum or natural skin oil at the base of the hair. It mostly occurs due to certain hormonal changes including the ones that occur at the onset of puberty.
- Sebum consists of a dark pigment known as melanin, which then interacts with the air causing an oxidizing reaction to occur that eventually results in blackening. This is the main reason why blackheads have a black or dark appearance.
- There are several myths about the appearance of blackheads, and one of them being that blackheads are linked to sexual activity. This, however, is not true.
- Some people believe that popping off a blackhead can help get rid of it. However, the constant popping of blackheads can worsen the skin condition and could also result in scarring.
- The occurrence of blackheads can be linked to poor eating habits, medical conditions such as diabetes, and quickly growing skin cells that eventually cause clogging of the pores.
- Blackheads are also referred to as open comedones, which are considered as a mild form of acne unless followed by severe acne on the skin.
- Blackheads are not usually bothersome or painful. However, severe acne could be painful to deal with.
Can poor hygiene cause blackheads?
There are several myths about the various triggers that could result in blackheads and acne. Poor hygiene is certainly one of the reasons that could cause blackheads in a number of people. While inadequate washing of the face can leave it clogged with dirt and oils resulting in excessive oil production in the skin, excessive washing or scrubbing of the skin also has its downsides and could worsen blackheads.
Other Causes of Blackheads
A number of people believe that blackheads only occur when your face is left unclean. Although it is partly true, there are certainly other reasons that could also be responsible for the appearance of blackheads in a person.
Here are some of the most common reasons associated with the appearance of blackheads:
- Cosmetics: The nasal region, which is also known as the "T-zone", is oilier than the rest of the face because there are a large number of oil-secreting glands located around the nose. While oily skin creams and cosmetics can moisturize the rest of your face, the nose and the area around it could get oilier. The excessive use of makeup and skin cosmetics that contain artificial or chemical ingredients can further clog up the hair follicles on the nose, which could eventually result in the appearance of blackheads.
- Hormonal Changes: A number of skin conditions are a result of various hormonal changes that take place in our body. As estrogen levels begin to drop in the body around the late 20s, a number of women start to face the common problem of blackheads or adult acne.
- Sweat: Excessive workout or working out in too much heat can add to the sweating, which can lead to the formation of blackheads. Excessive sweat can lead to clogging of the pores in the skin resulting in blackheads and blemishes. When you wear makeup, it leads to further clogging of the pores, thereby increasing the risk of blackheads.
- Medications: A number of medicines can also increase your chances of being affected by blackheads. Read the label on your medication or contact a dermatologist to find out if any of your medications could be causing your skin problem.
Simple Home Remedies to Get Rid of Blackheads
Blackhead removal does not always require expensive and painful parlor sessions. There are also a few simple home remedies that one can try for the removal of blackheads. Some of the most common and effective ways to get rid of blackheads include:
- Clay Mask: Bentonite clay is a mineral clay that has a number of healing properties. This clay has been used for hundreds of years in treating skin-related ailments. It has certain molecular properties when wet, which makes it extremely powerful in drawing out excess oils and impurities that are lying deep into the pores of the skin. When the mask is applied to the skin, the clay effectively pulls the blackheads out of the pores.
- Mask Made from Egg Whites: Egg whites make an effective mask that is very helpful in tightening of the pores, thereby helping get rid of blackheads. Egg whites also have certain essential nutrients for the skin that help remove the blackheads without excessively drying out the skin.
- Honey and Milk Strips: Honey and milk are both known to be excellent skin moisturizers. While honey has some antibacterial properties, milk has lactic acid, which works well in softening the skin. When both honey and milk are mixed together, they have certain adhesive properties that pull out the deepest rooted blackheads from the skin. The best part of this treatment is that it does not even dry out the skin like other blackhead removal measures do.
- Cinnamon and Honey: Cinnamon and honey together is a great combination to get rid of stubborn blackheads. While honey is rich in moisturizing properties, cinnamon works as an effective scrub that imparts glow and promotes good blood flow to the skin.