A:

Answers (7)

EXPERT
Dr. Lawrence Osman, MD (Dermatologist) answered

Blackheads are a type of acne. Normally, older skin cells work their way to the top surface of the skin and shed on a daily basis. In acne-prone skin, this process breaks down, and skin cells don't shed normally. (We still don't understand the exact reason for this.) Blackheads occur when dead skin, oil and bacteria clump in hair follicles (a.k.a. pores), rather than shedding normally. These clumps turn black as a result of oxidation after exposure to the air.

The best medications for treating blackheads are prescription retinoid creams like Retin-A. Over-the-counter medicine containing salicylic acid, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide, however, may be enough to treat mild blackheads/acne. There are a few tips for using these products: If you choose to use retinol, remember that you should apply it at night since sunlight may inactivate the product. And note that if you use a product containing benzoyl peroxide, it can bleach fabric. You should apply any product that you use to the entire affected area (don't just dab it on blackheads that you can see), in order to both treat obvious blackheads and those that are just starting but not yet visible.

If you choose to use pore strips, which attach to blackheads and may help remove them from the skin, know that they are not effective at preventing future blackheads from breaking out. Consult your doctor before using pore strips in combination with prescription creams, as they can cause skin irritation.

Be patient--it takes several months to see good results. Don't delay seeing a dermatologist, however, if you have acne that's leaving scars, as it could permanently damage your skin.

 

More On ChickRx:
EXPERT
Daniela Ferri (Licensed Esthetician, Acne Specialist) answered
Actually, if you're talking about the blackheads that are on your nose and chin and between your brows, there is no way to get rid of them, but there is a way to make them less prominent :

These are very normal places for blackheads to occur. Believe it or not, they actually have to be there.  The oil of your skin is acidic.  This gives your skin a lower pH, so that bacteria that fall on your skin from the air get killed - it's one of the ways your skin protects your body.  This oil gets a little solid toward the openings of your pores, in order that there is always a little oil staying around to make up the protective layer of your skin.  More accumulates in the t-zone area in order to protect your eyes, nose and mouth.  However, if there is too much oil being produced because of harsh cleansers (the high pH of these cleansers cause the skin to need to rebalance itself by over-producing oil) or too much scrub, there's going to be not only more blackhead material there, but also darkened dead cells in the mix from the slight inflammation that occurs because of the harshness of these two products.  This is why they appear so much blacker.  So, blackheads do need to be there, they just don't have to be so noticeable.  Hydration from good skin care helps this in addition to making sure the pH of your skin isn't thrown off by harsh cleansers and there isn't too much scrubbing - RULE OF THUMB : The more hydrated your skin is, the more pliable it is.  The more pliable your skin is, the less it holds on to the oil that makes blackheads.  Every blemish starts out as a microscopic blackhead.

This is actually why I'm HUGE on toner, where most of the time you might hear that it's a waste of money.  Check out why here :
http://www.daniela.com/Why_Toner.html

:)
More On ChickRx:
EXPERT
Dr. Charles Bollmann, M.D. (Ob/Gyn, Fellow Amer. Academy Cosmetic Surgery, Founding Member Amer. Holistic Medical Assn.) answered
The above answers are all good.

But if you keep getting them, try a 30% Salicylic peel from someone who does them (like a med spa) or cosmetic surgeon. It does not hurt and has no down time. And microdermabrasion (or Vibarderm, which I prefer) might help.

And I agree with Daniella Ferri that toners are important. They act as a key to open the lock of the cell membrane, and allow skin care products to penetrate better.

If you want a good skin care routine for acne, Bare Skin has two (www.bareskincare.com), which is my company.

More On ChickRx:
SuzieL answered
I agree with Daniela—since establishing a regular face regimen with toner and moisturizer my blackheads have gotten much better. A strange treatment I recently learned from a friend which is also helping: applying Elmer's school glue to my nose like a mask and peeling it off 15 minutes later when it's dry—a cheap "home remedy" when you don't have Biore in the house!!
More On ChickRx:
Sarah B. answered
 I have been suffering from acne around my nose for years, and it comes on and off. My skin is very sensitive, and whenever I try beauty products in a store I come away with something bad. I started using the Citrus Clear products - and I was so impressed. I use Citrus Clear Wash twice everyday, and it is helping clear out the acne. I love that its all natural too. . .Yes it is drying, but there are moisturizes that cure that
More On ChickRx:
JennaOlivia answered
Oh my... People often complicate blackheads but in reality most of them are caused by enlarged pores and the longer left untreated the larger the pores get which is why it's super easy to have makeup and dirt fall into them. This is what makes them look black dots. 
How I manage mine is I take baking soda and some water (that's it, nothing else) and I apply the mixture all over my face. Then I take a toothbrush and gently scrub my nose and chin for a few seconds. Leave it on for up to 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. This process can be repeated up to 3x a week on every second day. In about 2 weeks you should notice that your blackheads are less significant
More On ChickRx:
EXPERT
Daniela Ferri commented
The black dots in blackheads do not have anything whatsoever to do with dirt. The black in blackheads is oxidized oil and dead skin cells. No amount of scrubbing gets rid of them, in fact scrubbing can make them worse. The reason why baking soda helps a little is because it helps to liquify the impacted solidified oil/dead skin cell mixture that make up a blackhead (oil + alkali = soap). This can indeed be done without quite so much scrubbing. If your skin can handle this amount, your skin is tougher than that of many people. But for others, this method would make blackheads worse over time and create dryness from the high pH of the baking soda. I'm glad it's working for you, but it's not something I would recommend.
Shaye commented
At JennaOlivia - do you mix the Baking soda and water to form a paste?
Fierdous W. answered
So how do you treat whiteheads?
More On ChickRx:
EXPERT
Daniela Ferri commented
Well, it depends on what you mean by whiteheads. If you mean pimples with white tops on them, the remedy is proper skin care plus agents that kill bacteria and exfoliate very gently. If you mean those little white pearls under the skin, these pearly bumps are called "milia". They occur as the skin repairs itself from microscopic tears, usually caused by daily scrubs, wiping leftover eye makeup away with a towel, or daily overuse of cleansing brushes. Often they are caused by constant rubbing with a towel while working out. Generally the tendency to get them is hereditary. The theory is that the skin creates something on the surface so that whatever is scratching it will scratch the bumps instead so the skin can maintain its integrity. These generally have to be taken out with a facial. In the meantime, make sure that your mascara remover is thorough and that you're using 100% cotton-rounds, using only down and out motions, not back and forth. For wiping sweat away during workouts, you can use this cloth to ensure no tears occur in the delicate eye area through rubbing with a towel : http://www.daniela.com/Shammy_and_Spongy.html :)