What You Need to Know about Blackheads

You know a blackhead when you see one.  The center of the blackhead is the dark grey, brown or tan material which is stuck inside a pore.  They can range from being as tiny as a point to being much much larger.  You might have found it irresistable to try to give it a good squeeze to get the material out from between your fingers and nails. But be careful!  You don’t want to do more harm than good.

Here are some FAQs I often get about blackheads.

What makes a blackhead black?

While not truly black, the center of the blackhead is often dark in color.  This darkening occurs when the debris which is normally whitish or ivory is exposed to the air and oxidizes.  This oxidation process darkens the debris.

What is that material inside a blackhead anyway?  What is a blackhead made of?

The material inside a blackhead is a mix of a variety of substances normally made and shed through your pore.  They may include sebum as well as dead skin cells.

How do I get rid of  blackheads?

You may have heard of people extracting blackheads or you may have tried it yourself as well.  In general, it’s best to leave this to a trained professional to minimize the risk of scarring, inflammation, infection, and further skin damage.

There are medications which can also shrink pores and the blackheads.  Retinoids are a type of medication that could be used for this.  There are over the counter retinoids such as retinol and adapalene/Differin as well as prescription retinoids.  These can be irritating so start slowly at first and slowly increase until you can tolerate it.  If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, your physician may advise you to hold off on using retinoids.