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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Back Off, Blackheads

Photo © 2013 UrbaneWomenMag, Flickr

The word blackhead can conjure up images of awkward pre-teens with oily faces just entering their first year of puberty. Although puberty is a common time for blackheads to appear due to increased skin oil production, they can show up on the face, neck, back or any other area at any age. Read further to learn more about this unwelcome skin issue and what you can do to treat it.

As mammals, we have hair all over our body. Blackheads are hair follicles clogged with sebum (oil and keratin) and skin cells. They are similar to whiteheads, except their color comes from their exposure to oxygen. Open pores or follicles that contain this buildup can turn dark or appear yellow when the accumulation of oil and skin cell material come in contact with oxygen, just as an apple or banana browns when it has been cut open.

People most commonly find blackheads on their face, especially in the T-zone. The T-zone is the skin area across the forehead and down the nose and chin. This is an area of skin that typically produces more oil than others. Although the T-zone is the most common area for blackheads, they can be found on the back, ears and shoulders as well.


Don’t “Pop” A Blackhead!
It might be tempting to squeeze the skin around the blackhead to push the buildup out, but this is not a good idea for several reasons. Your hands have bacteria on them. When you press them against your face, you are increasing your chance of clogging other pores by spreading the bacteria from your hands to your face. Also, squeezing the clogged pore can spread the bacteria from the affected pore to others around it. Similar to the bacteria on your hands, the bacteria from the original clogged pore can cause other clogged pores to develop. Lastly, by squeezing the clogged pore, you actually risk squeezing pus buildup into the blood source for the follicle. This can carry bacteria to other parts of the body.  For all these reasons listed, you should not attempt to squeeze the blackhead out of the pore.

If you don’t already have a daily skin care routine, get one! Once you have that, incorporate a cleanser or exfoliant that contains salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide to help loosen the dead skin cells and unclog blackheads. These products are available over the counter at any drug store. Brands like Neutrogena, Cetaphil and Cerave are popular selections for this type of product.

Also, try a facial to treat existing blackheads and to prevent others from forming. A facial is a cosmetic treatment that cleans, exfoliates and takes preventive measures to protect the skin from issues like blackheads. Products used during a facial help clear the skin of dead cells and unclog pores by gentle or deep exfoliation (depending upon products and methods used). Typically wet heat, like a warm, wet towel, is used during the process to help open pores so they can be cleansed. Also, toners used on the skin toward the end of a facial help shrink pores so it is more difficult for bacteria to enter them.

Facials can be performed at home, but we recommend having a medical aesthetician or doctor perform this service. These professionals have been trained and certified to diagnose and treat skin issues with the appropriate products. There is little risk of harming your skin by practicing facials at home, but they are likely to be more effective when someone with knowledge and access to the most advanced skin care products is performing them.

ADSCA’s medi spa offers facial services, all of which can be customized to your needs. We offer a deep pore facial that targets skin problems like blackheads and whiteheads with a multi-layered exfoliation of the skin. For more information about deep-pore facials and other medi spa services visit our websiteread our medi spa blog post or contact ADSCA at 901-759-2322.


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