There isn’t anything that can make someone more self-conscious than the appearance of acne. For some of us, pimples are just something that are an occasional annoyance, but there are others of us who suffer through skin problems on a daily basis. The problem with acne is that it is difficult to get on top of, and in the long run it can wreak havoc on the overall esthetics of your skin. Acne scars are very difficult to get rid of, causing discoloration and marks. The best way to treat pimples is to prevent them. There are many different types of acne pimples. The blackhead is one of the most visible. Prominent for the “black” dot that signals the lurking infection below the skin, they are not only something that can turn to infection, they are unsightly to look at.
What is a blackhead?
The term “blackhead” can be misleading because their appearance does not always show black. It is possible for this type of pimple to have a white or yellow head. In general, they are pimples that appear on the surface of the skin that are caused by the opening of a skin follicle being blocked with oil or dead skin. Considered the first sign of acne, they are caused by bacteria that blocks the pores. The result is a postal, or pimple.
When you enter puberty, there is an activation of hormones that signals the stimulation of the sebaceous glands. Sometimes those hormones can cause an over-activation. Sebum is a substance that is used to lubricate the skins surface for a growing hair follicle. Hormonal releases can sometimes block the sebum from draining, leading to the growth of bacteria. When there is not proper drainage of the sebum, a blackhead will form in an attempt to open the pore so that it can drain.
The reason that a blackhead can appear dark in color is because it contains a pigment called melanin. When melanin mixes with oxygen, it turns a dark color which is what you see on the surface of someone’s skin. When you see the appearance of a blackhead, it is not uncommon to assume that it is “dirty”. You cannot remove a blackhead by washing it, or scrubbing it. A blackhead is not dirt that you can just wash away.
Everyone will get a blackhead at some point in their life. Although people prone to oily skin are more susceptible to them, even a person with the driest skin is capable of developing them. The use of oils and makeup only make it more likely that you will block pores and a blackhead will result.
What causes a blackhead?
To find the ways to get rid of a blackhead it is important to understand what the causes of them are. The biggest cause of blackheads is hormone surges that are more prevalent in adolescence. The surge of hormones is responsible for the increase in acne common during puberty.
Many individuals make the wrong assumption that those who have blackheads are not properly caring for their skin, or washing it frequently enough. That is not the case. Since the triggers to acne happen below the surface of the skin, poor hygiene is usually not the culprit. Scientist have found that if you wash your face twice daily, no additional washing regimens will have an effect on curbing acne. However, it is true that applying oils, moisturizers and foundation to the skin can be responsible for blocking the pores that can result in blackhead formation.
In the past, foods that we eat were thought to be linked to an increase in acne. The truth is that foods do not affect the formation of blackheads, i.e.; eating greasy foods will not increase acne as believed in the past. Stress is also something that was previously believed to be a factor to acne. The only way that stress can negatively affect the appearance of your skin is if anxiety or stress predisposes someone to pick at pimples. That can make them worse. By spreading the bacteria, picking at blackheads can make the situation worse.
So what are the best treatments for blackheads?
1. Hormonal regulation
The things that can help to curb the appearance of blackheads is prevention. Since hormone stimulation is the trigger to these unsightly annoyances, hormonal treatments are a great way to regulate the production of hormones in the body to decrease the surges that predispose people to get acne. Contraceptive pills have shown great affect on the incidence of acne for girls.
Spironolactone is an androgen blocker, prescribed normally as a diuretic, it has been shown to help decrease the amount of sebum production.
2. Hygienic help
Cleaning the skin is always a good idea. It can help to prevent the blockage of pores that leads to blackheads, and it will remove dead layers from the surface of the skin.
The grease that is present on the hair is a precursor to the formation of blackheads. Keeping hair up and off of the face works to decrease oil on the skin’s surface. Also, making sure to not touch your face can help to cut down on dirt that can clog pores.
There are many medications that have had a great effect on acne production. Adapalene, a topical retinoid, is a great medication to treat moderate to heavy acne.
For mild acne, products that contain salicylic acid will also help to prevent the blockage of pores. Benzoyl peroxide is also an ingredient found in many skin washes that will help to decrease the amount of oil at the surface of the skin.
Other useful products are antibiotics, both topical and oral, which can sometimes work to decrease the infection that can lead to blackheads. And the medication Isotretinoin, which can help to reduce the production of oil on the surface of the skin.
The first line of defense against blackheads should always be the least invasive. If you find that hygienic habits and over-the-counter products are not helpful, talking with a dermatologist to discuss the benefits and risks of medications can be a good way to overcome the problems associated with acne.