What are Blackheads?

 
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Just What Are Blackheads?
By Lim Wen Jun

There is no end to the number of skin problems that one can be afflicted with, from cysts to moles, rashes, rosacea, whiteheads, and blackheads. Some of these problems are pretty much harmless under normal circumstances; virtually everyone has a mole or two somewhere on their body and cysts are usually just small, benign masses of cells that grow internally or externally on the skin and usually go away on their own. But it's surprising how many people have very little knowledge about all these elements that appear on their skin, including blackheads.

First, consider what acne actually is. Dirt, oil and bacteria are present on anyone's and everyone's face at all times. These small collections grow into small sacs that we call pimples when the skin above it forms a barrier and doesn't allow it to wash or rinse away. When these collections stay in pores and hair follicles without that skin covering, this is what we call blackheads. This is different from what most people call regular pimples, or whiteheads, in that whiteheads have a thin covering of skin so that they appear white or flesh-colored. When you don't have that covering of skin and can easily see the collection of dirt and bacteria that is what we call blackheads, since they appear black or dark in nature.

There is really nothing special about blackheads versus whiteheads or other pimples; they're all a collection of dirt, oil and bacteria. It seems as if just their appearance is different, not their roots or causes.

So now that you know what blackheads are, how to treat them? Really, it's no different than how you treat other forms of acne. Acne is caused not just because of the dirt and oil that gets trapped; everyone has dirt and oil on their face. It's also not because someone isn't cleaning their face properly or enough times. Most who have all forms of acne, including blackheads, clean their face religiously and thoroughly. Usually the problem is that a person has enlarged pores or hair follicles that allow these elements to get trapped inside.

Usually a dermatologist can assist with very chronic or severe cases of blackheads. They may require manual extraction; most pharmacies have a small tool that can be used to press the skin around them, forcing out the elements inside. Topical medications such as benzoyl peroxide or Retin-A can also be used to clear up the bacteria and other harmful elements contained in blackheads.

If you're prone to blackheads there's no reason to be frustrated. Usually a regular routine of good skin care is needed; it's important to address this problem on a consistent basis. Typically it's not cured overnight but if a person is regular about their cleaning regimen it can be fixed over time. When the oil and dirt are ignored and allowed to settle and build up in the pores and hair follicles then blackheads develop. Be gentle with your skin but clean it regularly and you'll probably see a great decrease in breakouts.

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