To understand what a blackhead is we need to understand what a Comedo is, as blackhead is a branch of comedo. A hair follicle or pore, when clogged by the combination of skin rubble (Keratin) and oil, is known as a comedo. Comedos are not formed due to the occurrence of acne (but in some cases are) and can be open or closed by skin. When excessive oil is produced on the skin due to puberty or fluctuation of hormonal levels formation of comedones and acne is common. Swelled papules and pustules also known as pimples are part of acne. Due to infection these things can swell and develop pus. Blackheads are not only present in teenagers but are also found in women with menstrual problems and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Smoking, chewing tobacco, etc. can also worsen your acne or comedones.
Blackheads are black or dark gray colored because of oxidation. People often think that blackheads are black due to natural dirt color or lack of cleanliness, but this theory is wrong. Dermatologists say that blackheads are open to air, clogged pores contain sebum along with keratin. Sebum contains a substance called melanin. Melanin oxidizes and turns black when exposed to air.
Genes also participate in the formation of acne or blackheads. Comedones are prevalent in some ethnic groups. Africans, Asians and African-Americans tend to experience acne quicker than other ethnic groups.
Comedones that are greater than 1mm are known as macro-comedones. They are mostly present on the face than neck and are closed. Senile Comedones or Solar Comedones are formed due to excessive exposure to sunlight and are found on cheeks mostly.
What to take care of?
Avoid excessive scrubbing and washing as this could make situations worse by irritating the skin. Do not touch and pick blackhead, and do not use needles, etc. to aid you in picking them as they might not be sterile and can cause harmful infections.
Fake skin products block pores and increase the formation of blackheads. Hair products contain grease which can increase acne. Search for the words Non-comedogenic or Non-acnegenic when buying skin products as products with these words will not clog pores.
Make-up and skin creams which are oil-free and water-bases tend to decrease formation of acne and blackheads.
Do not alter your diet because diet does not affect the growth of blackheads and make sure you do not take much stress because recent studies have found that stress and tension also cause the formation of comedos.
Resist touching your face again and again as it transfers bacteria, thus bacteria promote the growth of comedones. Refrain from using tissue papers and towels used by others or left on the ground.
Use face washes which wash away excess oil as oil (sebum) production can build up behind the pore and will help the comedo to grow and get more visible.
If a comedo gets too large rather than squeezing or scratching it refer to a doctor for a better treatment.