My Skincare Blog

Blemished skincare, skincare, blemishes, acne

Blackheads, Bacne and Acne

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 08:53am

Blackheads start appearing during puberty, when hormonal activity (particularly the overproduction of testosterone) can encourage excess production of sebum, the body’s naturally occurring moisturiser. Though sebum has an important part to play in the natural regulation of your body’s chemistry, in excess it can block up your pores, trap dead cells and lead to acne and blemishes. A blocked pore is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow - warm and airtight - so you want to get rid of the blockage before your pore becomes infected. Blemishes don’t have to be isolated to the face: 60% of people will also suffer acne on their backs and 15% get blemishes on their chests. Men are more susceptible than women because our skin is more oily and our pores are larger.

Blackheads (medical name “open comedones”, fact fans) are found on any area of the skin where sebum can build up, particularly the chin, forehead and sides of the nostrils. Very oily skin may also develop blackheads on the cheeks and the tip of the nose, as well as chest and back. The black-ish dot which you can see is a small lump of congealed sebum that blocks up your pore and creates a blemish. If left alone the blackhead will build up until it stretches the pore permanently. Once a blackhead becomes infected it becomes a whitehead and the skin around the infected area can become red and inflamed as your antibodies try to fight off the infection. It is essential to take care of blackheads as soon as they develop.

There are ways and means to tackle blackheads. If a blackhead is large, uninfected and fairly close to the surface of the skin you can engage extract it yourself:

  1. Have a hot shower or hold your face over a bowl of steaming water in order to soften the skin and open up your pores.
  2. Now here's the best bit. Form pads around your fingers with tissue and gently push until it pops out - don’t overdo it though, as too much pushing can damage the skin and lead to permanent blemishes and scarring.
  3. You don't want any bacteria entering the open pore, so apply an antiseptic soothing cream.
  4. This treatment should form part of a regular skincare regime. Use a facial wash every day and twice a week use a facial scrub to shift anything that might be clogging up your pores.

Be careful not to get too enthusiastic when it comes to the cleaning, though. Scrubbing your face too often can also cause all sorts of problems: not least an increased risk of blackheads and blemishes as your body produces more sebum to replace that which you have removed. It isn’t true that removing a blackhead causes more to develop, but excessive poking and prodding of the epidermis can lead to increased sebum production and thus an even greater risk of blemishes and blackheads forming. Over enthusiastic squeezing can be counterproductive to say the least.

Oil based make-ups are a common cause of acne, blemishes and blackheads for women. While that obviously isn’t such an issue amongst men, any New Romantics, professional clowns or cross dressers should take note. Best to stay vigilant.

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