How to Get Rid of Blackheads

One of the most difficult skin issues people experience is getting rid of blackheads.  If you are looking for a fool proof method of getting rid of blackheads, there dirty truth is that there is no “easy” way to remove blackheads.  That’s not to say that it’s impossible – it is certainly possible to cure blackhead problems – but you might be looking at a battle to find an effective way of treating the problem. You see, what works for me may not work for you and  vice versa.

Having said that, let’s get started.

What are Blackheads?

blackhead noseBlackheads are known as “open comedones.” There are actually two parts to a blackhead – the inner plug which is beneath the skin and the outer plug which is visible to the eye. The outer plug may be a yellow to blackish coloration.

The basic cause of a blackhead is where excess skin oil clogs up the pores. This blockage prevents the skin oil from reaching the surface of the skin due to some cause. When the pore finally does open, the skin oil (sebum) is exposed to the air and the oxegen reacts with the substance, turning the color dark. Hence the name ‘blackhead.’

There are many things that may contribute to blackheads:

  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Pollution
  • Humidity
  • Physical Irritation
  • Diet
  • Cosmetic/Skin Care Products

blackheadsThe biggest culprit is usually hormones which may cause increased oil production in the skin. The more oil produced, the more likely you will get blackheads. Teenagers and pregnant women are especially prone to blackheads and pimples due to the hormonal changes experienced during this period.

Another major contributing factor to the development of blackheads comes from low quality skin care products and makeup. One thing that may cure your blackhead problem is to comply eschew the use of any cosmetic product.

Now if you want to treat blackheads, you are going to have to take a two step approach. First, you are going to want to take active steps to prevent new blackheads from forming. This is called blackheads prevention and should be the ultimate long-term goal. You will also need to remove the blackheads you currently have on your face as well; this is called blackhead removal.

How to Prevent Blackheads

There are many blackhead treatments available to you: off-the-shelf medicated treatments, facial hygene regimens, and powerful oral medications.  Here’s where to start:

Blackhead Treatment Option.  Facial Regiment

  1. Incorporate a proper facial hygiene regimen into your life. Each morning and night you should wash your face with a mild, non comeogenic soap or facial wash. Do not use a regular bar of soap on your face. These often contain agents that can clog your pores and make your blackhead problem even worse.  If you have dry skin, you should choose a facial soap/scrub that has gentle, non comeogenic moisturizer in it.
  2. Exfoliate your face several times a week. Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells from your skin which then allows the natural oils to flow more freely to the surface of your skin. There are both medicated and non medicated exfoliants that you can choose from – if possible, use a medicated exfoliant with 1% or 2% Benzyole peroxide or salycic acid.
  3. Reduce the oil on your skin. There are a number of products that will allow you to do this easily. We recommend oil-absorbing papers as one means. There are also gentle facial masks you could use as well, such as a clay mask. By reducing the oil present on your skin, you prevent the oil from later drying out and clogging up your skin.

You can find a number of off-the-shelf acne/blackhead products. Most of these contain one of the more proven medications:

Benzoyle Peroxide (available in 1% to 5% formulations, and 10% with a prescription)

Benzoyle Peroxide (also called BHA’s), works by penetrating the pores, killing bacteria and actually reducing the amount of skin oil your pores produce.  If you can’t use BHA’s, you can substitute them for alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA’s). Note that these type of acids are generally said to be less effective than either Benzoyle Peroxide or Salicylic acid as they do not actually penetrate into the pore itself.

Salicylic Acid

This is another medication that works similar to Benzoyle Peroxide. Most people agree that Benzoyle Peroxide is more effective than Salicylic acid, however.

Tea Tree Oil

For those who like natural treatments, Tea Tree Oil is a completely natural substance that comes from the Australian Tea Tree. Tea Tree Oil has anti-microbial properties and is said to be as effective as a 2% Benzoyle Peroxide formulation.

Note, there are a number of acne treatment systems that come packaged with a facial cleaner, acne cream, and non-comedogenic moisturizer. Some of the better reviewed products are:

  • ClearPores
  • Proactiv

Blackhead Treatment Option:  Diet Changes

Changing your diet may either directly or indirectly impact the oil production in your skin, and therefore affect the number of blackheads form. Officially, dermatologists claim that diet does NOT effect blackheads or acne, but there is certainly enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that there may be a connection. Our recommendation is to avoid eating foods with saturated/trans fats, excess sugars and starches. Stick to lean proteins (chicken breasts, turkey breasts, cottage cheese, lean beef cuts, etc), complex carbs (brown rice, sweet potatoes, yams), and plenty of green vegetables. Drink plenty of water (8 cups a day).

The author of this article has found this such a diet change to be very effective for reducing the number of blackheads present on the face.

Blackhead Treatment Option: Acne Home Remedies

There are a number of blackhead home remedies that you might consider looking at. There is no guarantee these will cure the problem, but if you are looking for a “free” natural approach to treating blackheads, then it’s worth giving these a try.

Here are some of the more popular ones:

Spice Mix: Combine one teaspoon of coiander juice and one teaspoon of turmeric powder, mix with water, and dabble on blackheads before going to bed. Wash off in morning

Lemon Juice: apply lemon juice (or lime juice) directly to blackheads and pimples before bed and first thing in the morning

Honey: applying a mixture of lemon juice and honey to your blackheads and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. This is reputed to one of the more effective home remedies for acne and blackheads

Tea Tree Oil: apply pure tea tree oil to affected areas once a day. This is a PROVEN means of treating blackheads and acne pimples

Blackhead Treatment Option: Acne Medications

There are a number of effective oral medications. The basic two types are medication types used to treat acne: medications which include Retinoids and medications that include hormone blockers.

On the Retinoid front, you have  Differin, Tazorac, Retin-A, Avita, and Renova. The most popular hormone blocker medication for acne is Accutane. Accutane is probably the most effective medication used to treat acne – but it’s only used for severe acne, such as cystic acne. In any case, you MUST consult your dermatologist before you can take oral medications.

How to Get Rid of Blackheads

If you have blackheads and you want to get them out now, you need to remove them. If you are patient, it is possible the blackheads may gradually fall out.

To Remove Blackheads:

  1. Wash your face with a gentle face scrub or mild, non-comeogenic soap to remove dead skin cells and bacteria from your face.
  2. Pat face dry with a CLEAN face cloth. Do not scrub, but pat – scrubbing your face can irritate the skin.
  3. Place a warm towel on your face and hold it to your face for 5 minutes. This well help to open up your pores and make it easier to remove the blackhead. Another option is to take a hot shower for 10 minutes.
  4. Pat dry your face with the towel again.
  5. Apply pressure on both sides of the blackhead and squeeze, making sure you don’t break the skin. If the blackhead won’t come, do NOT force it – you may cause scarring. It’s important that you push from underneath the blackhead to encourage it to pop out. We suggest you only try removing the blackhead once or twice – if that fails, you could damage your skin or make the blackhead worse, possibly causing a pimple to form.
  6. Once the blackhead is removed, put some sort of topical acne medication where the blackhead was removed. You can use Tea Tree Oil, Benzoyle Peroxide, or Salicylic Acid.

There are a few tools that can make removing blackheads easiser

Pore Strips

These have mixed reviews. Some people swear by these and others say you should avoid using them as they can injure the skin.  They can be very effective for removing large batches of blackheads, especially from the nose area.

Keep in mind that this will only remove blackheads temporarily – many deeper blackheads won’t be removed and unless you take preventative blackhead measures, the blackheads will return.

Blackhead Extractors

This are special tools that help you extract blackheads. They are pretty effective, though perhaps more time consuming than squeezing blackheads out with your hand.

Getting Rid of Blackheads – The Final Word

Getting rid of blackheads is not something that you can do overnight. In all truth, it will likely take you a few months of trying different treatment methods before you find something that works for you.

You may find you need to use a dedicated daily acne treatment program combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle that makes a difference.