What Causes Blackheads?

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The Blooming of a Blackhead

Blackheads are skin particles, debris and excess skin pigment, or melanin, along with sebum or oil which reach our skin surface. The melanin in the blackhead is what causes its characteristic dark color; the color is not caused by poor hygiene. According to the Acne Resource Center, some causes of blackheads and acne are genetics, hormones, some medications, stress, humidity and physical irritation. When it is humid, the acne sufferer sweats, and this sweat mixes with the oils in the skin; add tight clothing which chafes or rubs an area of the skin and the patient has optimal conditions for forming a blackhead. Pregnant women sometimes suffer outbreaks of acne, caused by the significant changes in their hormones. Medications can alter the body's chemistry, which can disturb the production of sebum and lead to blockage of the skin's pores. Oil-based cosmetics can also be a contributing factor.

Treating Blackheads

Use gentle products to treat blackheads. If sufferers use a harsh acne treatment product, they will strip all the natural oils from their skin and cause increased production of even more oil to the skin -- which will cause more development of even more blackheads. Stay away from products containing alcohol and mineral oils, as these can irritate the skin. Those susceptible to blackheads can use an exfoliant product to remove dead skin cells, which block oil pores. Exfoliants should be used with caution because they can irritate the skin; sufferers should use exfoliants cautiously in order to avoid skin irritation. Sufferers should not pick blackheads -- in squeezing the plug out, they can force the oil back down into their pores, which will potentially cause further irritation, and possibly, infection. Instead, it is better to use a gentle product to dry out the blackhead and allow it to fall away from the skin on its own

More Ways to Combat Blackheads

Other ways of combating blackheads include: staying hydrated and drinking plenty of good, plain water; eating a healthy diet can also benefit the skin. Although excess oil in the diet will not cause acne, it won't hurt to decrease the level of oils and fats in food. Those prone to blackheads and acne probably also have sensitive skin; selecting gentle skin care products and cosmetics will contribute to healthier skin. According to Health Beauty Guide, some recommendations include glycolic peels, which slough dead skin and remove some debris from skin pores. These peels can irritate very sensitive skin. Pore strips can remove debris, but do not prevent further blackhead breakouts; they can also irritate sensitive skin. Using an alpha-hydroxy acid or a cleanser with salicylic acid can help; again, sensitive skin can become irritated with use of these types of products.

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