Treatments for Blocked Pores & Blackheads

Acne often first appears with the onset of puberty.
Acne often first appears with the onset of puberty. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Acne is a common condition that occurs due a buildup of dead skin cells and oil plugging the hair follicles. This plug blocks the pores and produces various types of acne including blackheads. For a person with blocked pores and blackheads, there are several treatments ideal for clearing up acne.

Over-the-Counter Topical Treatments

Over-the-counter topical treatments may prove useful for clearing up an acne problem. Typically, these products contain active ingredients such as salicylic or lactic acid, benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol or sulfur. The manufacturers claim the ingredients are beneficial for drying excess sebum, the natural oil produced by the body, promoting the sloughing of dead skin cells and killing bacteria. Generally, these products come in lotion form and are promoted as beneficial for treating mild acne. In some cases, over-the-counter topical treatments cause flaking, dryness and skin irritation during the first month of use.

Prescription Topical Treatments

For blocked pores, blackheads and other forms of acne that do not respond to over-the-counter topical treatments, there are prescription topical treatments available. A dermatologist or doctor can prescribe stronger treatments such as topical antibiotics, products derived from vitamin A or a combination of products. Topical antibiotics treat acne by killing excess skin bacteria. Products derived from vitamin A treat acne by preventing plugged hair follicles and promoting cell rejuvenation. In some cases, doctors will prescribe a combination of antibiotic and benzoyl peroxide for treatment. Side effects of prescription topical treatments include peeling, stinging, redness and burning.

Cosmetic Procedures

Some cosmetic procedures are useful for controlling acne. Traditionally, microdermabrasion and chemical peels lessen the appearance of minor facial scars, fine lines and sun damage, however, these cosmetic procedures are effective for controlling acne by removing dead skin cells and improving skin texture. Cosmetic procedures cause temporary blistering, redness and scaling. In some cases, long-term skin discoloration occurs. These cosmetic procedures work best when combined with other acne treatments.

Laser and Light Therapy

Laser and light therapy is another way to treat blocked pores, blackheads and other forms of acne. In some cases, laser and light therapies reduce the amount of sebum produced and target acne-producing bacteria. These therapies also lessen the appearance of scars and improve skin texture. Currently, experts recommend these therapies for individuals who are unable to tolerate other types of acne medication. In some cases, laser and light therapy causes temporary skin problems similar to severe sunburn.

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