What are blackheads?
‘Blackheads’ is a term usually meant to refer to clogged pores that are open or exposed to the air. The keratin in these pores oxidizes and turns black in color. The medical term would be open comedones .
How do you remove them at home?
It’s reasonable to remove these at home gently. I usually recommend taking two cotton tips or Q tips, anchor them on either side of the pores and gently push them towards each other to extract out the keratin. This will be less traumatizing then your fingernails!
Remember, the ‘black dots’ on the nose are actually not always blackheads. There is a common genetic trait called trichostasis that results in the appearance of blackheads on the nose and chin. These are actually open pores with sebum and a small hair follicle giving them a dark appearance. These are best managed with adhesive nasal strips such as biore.
What are some tips to make blackhead removal easier.
To make blackhead removal easier, use a topical retinoid for several days before extracting. Over the counter you will find Differin. Prescription strength versions include tretinoin and tazarotene. These products loosen up and break apart the keratin and dead skin cells making them easier to extract.
What are some professional blackhead removal options?
I usually extract these using a lancer or the assistance of a vacuum device such as a microdermabrasion machine. It allows the advantage of treating larger areas to start patients with a ‘cleaner slate’ for deep embedded pores that are difficult to get one step ahead of!