The Blemish on the Skin

The Blemish on the Skin

Blackheads These small yet un-ignorable blemishes cling on to our T-zones no matter what – defying the most robust skincare routines and even clinging to the cleanest of skin and blackhead removal. No matter how hard you squeeze, steam, strip or scrub your face, these unwanted pinpricks remain although one can’t help but admit the satisfactory feeling when squeezing. However, as satisfying as that squeeze may be in the moment, the peskiness of blackheads can wear on anyone. They just keep coming back. In search of answers, we turned to top dermatologists to find out how to get rid of them — for good.

It helps to first understand exactly what blackheads are before you go about trying to rid your skin of them. Blackheads are just an oxidized mix of oil and dead skin cells that are sitting in pores, [and] the exposure to air is what causes them to oxidize and turn black,” explains Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.

The technical name for a blackhead is an open comedone (and comedone is the scientific term for an acne lesion). There are two different types of comedones: Open (blackheads) and closed (whiteheads). As Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University, explains: “[Blackheads] are characterized by a dilated opening of a hair follicle, caused by the build-up of sebum, which is oil, P. Acnes bacteria, the primary bacteria responsible for causing acne, and inflammation.”

In other words: A blackhead is essentially a hair follicle that’s so blocked up with dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria that it becomes a wide opening at the surface of the skin. When this entire gunk hits the open air (because of the wide opening), it oxidizes and turns the color black.

Despite the off-putting color, blackheads have nothing to do with dirt. “Having [blackheads] is not a sign that you’re too dirty,” Nazarian says. Now there is a bit of hope and relief for those doubting how clean they keep their skin. The bad news, for some, is that there is a genetic component to blackheads, meaning that certain people are more prone to developing them, although the underlying reason for this isn’t yet fully understood. So you can push the blame to your ascendants. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.

When it comes to getting rid of blackheads, or any type of acne for that matter, there are two ways you can go: You can DIY at home, or, you can see a dermatologist. It all depends on how persistent the case may be.

One of the absolute best ways to prevent blackheads is by using an exfoliating facial mask at least once per week.

Let’s start with clay masks. A good detoxifying and exfoliating clay mask will contain ingredients that are powerful enough to lift dead skin cells and excess oil from deep within the pores. The best ingredients to look for are clays (like betonies clay, French green clay, white clay, pink clay, rhassoul clay, and Fuller’s Earth), charcoal powder, green tea powder, turmeric, and honey.

If you have mild blackheads; your go-to ingredient should be salicylic acid,” explains Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “This beta hydroxyl acid helps remove excess oil and exfoliate the cells from the surface of the skin.”

The best way to utilize salicylic acid? Try a gentle face scrub, which acts as a sort of one-two punch for combatting blackheads, providing double the exfoliation powers. “The combination of physical exfoliation from the scrub, along with chemical exfoliation from the salicylic acid, can help keep the pores clear,” Zeichner says.

It is best to avoid facial scrubs that contain rough abrasives (like coconut pieces, sugars, and large salts) because they can cause microscopic tears & scars on the surface of the skin. A gentle scrub is all you need to remove any loose dead skin that may clog your pores. Look for scrubs that contain fine powders like oat flour, almond powder, and kaolin clays.

Also try a Clarisonic brush. Electronic skin-care devices, like the beloved Clarisonic brush, aren’t just hype — they really do cleanse your skin much more thoroughly than your fingers alone. “Just be sure not to overdo it because irritation from the cleansing brush can flare up other acne,” explains Jeremy Fenton, a dermatologist in New York City.What classifies as overdoing it? “One or two times a week should be sufficient,” Fenton says. FYI: Clarisonic’s latest gadget comes with a gentler brush head (and lets you know when it’s time to switch it out ).

For severe cases, oral acne medication may be necessary

When all else fails, your dermatologist might prescribe an oral medication to help clear things up. “If topical medications are not doing the job, medications like birth control pills and spironolactone decrease oil production and can effectively treat blackheads,” says Zeichner. “They will get rid of blackheads and prevent new ones from showing up in the future. But these medicines are reserved for people with more than just the occasional blackhead; they are more for people with moderate to severe acne.”Both oral contraceptives and spironolactone work on a hormonal level to help decrease oil production in the skin.

Lastly, don’t forget to moisturize. Moisturizing is a crucial step in any skin-care routine — even if you’ve got acne-prone skin. Why, you ask? its lock like a Fashion”All of these methods may strip oils from the skin and be drying,” Fenton explains. “It’s important to maintain the right balance in the skin, and moisturizing will allow you to continue using exfoliating products without any issues.”for those with sensitive skin: If a retinoid cream is too drying, try applying it over moisturizer (or even between layers of moisturizer). Always use non-comedogenic moisturizers, which are formulated specifically to not clog your pores.

It’s amazing how treatments have come about over the course of the years. Evolution indeed! Be that as it may, some of the remedies listed above may not work for everyone. However, in severe and persistent cases, do see a Dermatologist.

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