What are blackheads and why do they form?
Blackheads are a type of acne that form when your pores get clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. They appear as small, dark spots on your skin, especially on your nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. Unlike whiteheads, which are closed pores, blackheads are open pores that expose the clog to the air, making it oxidize and turn black.
Blackheads can form for various reasons, such as:
- Hormonal changes that increase oil production
- Excessive use of makeup or skincare products that block your pores
- Poor hygiene or not washing your face regularly
- Environmental factors like pollution or humidity that trap dirt and oil on your skin
Why popping blackheads is a bad idea
Popping blackheads may seem like a quick and easy way to get rid of them, but it can actually do more harm than good. Here are some of the risks and drawbacks of popping blackheads:
- You can damage your skin and cause inflammation, irritation, redness, or swelling
- You can introduce more bacteria into your pores and cause infection or inflammation
- You can spread the clog to other pores and create more blackheads or other types of acne
- You can enlarge your pores and make them more visible
- You can cause scarring or hyperpigmentation on your skin
How to treat blackheads safely and effectively
The best way to deal with blackheads is to prevent them from forming in the first place. This means keeping your skin clean, exfoliated, moisturized, and protected from the sun. Here are some tips to follow:
- Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser that suits your skin type
- Use a toner or an astringent after cleansing to remove any excess oil or dirt
- Exfoliate your skin once or twice a week with a scrub or a chemical peel that contains alpha or beta hydroxy acids. These acids help dissolve the clog and unclog your pores
- Moisturize your skin daily with a lightweight, non-comedogenic lotion or gel that hydrates your skin without clogging your pores
- Apply sunscreen every day with at least SPF 30 to protect your skin from UV damage and prevent dark spots
- Avoid touching your face or picking at your blackheads with your fingers or nails
- Use oil-free, non-comedogenic makeup and skincare products that won’t block your pores
- Change your pillowcase regularly and avoid using dirty towels or washcloths on your face
If you have stubborn blackheads that won’t go away with these methods, you may want to consult a dermatologist or an esthetician for professional treatment. They can use special tools or techniques to safely extract your blackheads without damaging your skin. Some of the options they may offer are:
- Manual extraction using a sterile comedone extractor or a loop tool that gently presses out the clog from your pore
- Microdermabrasion using a device that sprays tiny crystals on your skin to remove the top layer of dead skin cells and unclog your pores
- Chemical peels using stronger acids that peel off the top layer of your skin and reveal smoother, clearer skin underneath
- Laser therapy using light energy that heats up and destroys the clog in your pore
- Photodynamic therapy using light energy and a photosensitizing agent that kills the bacteria in your pore
These treatments may have some side effects such as redness, peeling, dryness, or sensitivity, so make sure you follow the aftercare instructions given by your provider.
Popping blackheads is not worth it because it can cause more problems for your skin than it solves. Instead of popping them yourself, you should follow a proper skincare routine that prevents them from forming and treats them safely and effectively. If you need professional help, you can visit a dermatologist or an esthetician who can offer you various options to get rid of blackheads without harming your skin. Remember, popping blackheads is not the solution; it’s the problem.