Do you keep picking on the black or yellow plugs on the tip of your nose? Those pesky, stubborn things are blackheads, which are enough to pull down the overall appearance of any face. Moreover, they keep coming back again and again in multitudes even after you squeeze them out. It is really tricky to get rid of those ugly little bumps, especially when they become overwhelming. But worry not. We are here to get you covered. The best way to manage the problem is to use simple home remedies and here, we are going to talk about some of the most effective ways to remove blackheads naturally. So, stay tuned.
What are Blackheads?
Blackheads are tiny, dark bumps or lesions formed on the surface of the skin due to clogged hair follicles. They are the most common form of mild acne in which other signs of acne may not be present (1). While blackheads are most commonly found on the nose and the chin, they can appear on any other body parts including neck, shoulders, chest, back, and arms too. Usually, people with oily skin are more vulnerable to blackheads, but you can get them even if you have dry, combination, and even normal skin. However, blackheads are not trapped dirt and they have nothing to do with skin hygiene. Even those following a strict cleanliness regime may also face this issue as it is caused by the accumulation of excess oils in the sebaceous glands. The appearance of blackheads may also vary based on heredity, age, hormonal status, lifestyle, skincare regimen, and so on.
Acne or acne vulgaris is a skin infection that is considered as the most common skin issue in the United States (U.S.). According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it affects as many as 50 million of Americans every year (2).
Causes of Blackheads
Our skin has millions of pores containing hair follicles with hair fibers and sebaceous glands lying underneath them. When these glands become overactive, the excess sebum (yellowish, oily protective substance) secreted by them gets accumulated in the hair follicles. This, along with the dead cells collected in the openings to hair follicles, clogs the skin pores and forms tiny bumps or ‘comedones’. If the skin over these comedones remains open, everything inside them gets oxidized due to the exposure to air. This turns the top visible surface of the bumps dark or yellowish in color, thus forming ‘blackheads’. There are also certain factors that may increase the chances of developing blackheads, which include the following (3):
- Oversecretion of sebaceous glands
- Higher rate of turnover of skin cells by the body
- Too much sweating
- Lack of regular skin exfoliation
- Extremely humid environment
- Blocking of skin pores by makeup products
- Opening of hair follicles by shaving and other similar activities
- Buildups of bacteria (P. acnes) on the skin
- Hormonal fluctuations due to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, birth control pills, etc.
- Certain medical conditions like stress, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), etc. (4)
- Intake of steroid-based drugs like corticosteroids, lithium, androgens, etc.
Blackheads may lead to more severe acne if you do not address its underlying causes. However, too much exfoliation or frequent attempts to remove them may turn the condition even worse.
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Symptoms of Blackheads
Blackheads form small, dark, and slightly raised lesions on the skin that are very easy to spot. Being non-inflammatory in nature, they do not cause pain or discomfort like pimples and pustules. However, the appearance of the bumps itself causes embarrassment in some people, which may again cause social or psychological difficulties. (5)
Sometimes blackhead-like smaller and flatter bumps appear on the nose in groups. These are called ‘sebaceous filaments’, which are pretty different from acne or blackheads. They are basically certain glands that channelize sebum through the skin pores.
Treatments for Blackheads
There are multiple treatments for managing blackheads effectively. Based on the unique requirements of the skin, the following options can be considered:
- OTC Treatments: Over-the-counter acne treatments available in cream, gel, or pad forms are known to be effective for blackheads. Common ingredients used in these products are salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, and resorcinol, which help in soaking up excess sebum, sloughing off dead cells, and killing bacteria.
- Prescription Treatments: When OTC medications do not work, consult your doctor for stronger prescription drugs. They usually contain tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene and are used topically to prevent the formation of plugs in the hair follicles as well as boost the turnover of skin cells. (6)
- Manual Extraction: In this treatment procedure, a tool called ’round loop extractor’ is used by trained professionals or dermatologists to make a small opening in the blackhead. Then, gentle pressure is applied with the instrument to eliminate the plug from it.
- Microdermabrasion: This is another method, which is practiced only under the guidance of a skilled and experienced professional. In this, the topmost layer of the skin is sanded with a special instrument having a rough surface in order to get rid of blackhead-causing clogs.
- Chemical Peels: When a strong chemical solution is applied to the skin directly, the top layers of it peel off gradually over time. This also removes clogs and dead skills, thus revealing the smoother, skin underneath. Though mild OTC peels can be tried at home, stronger ones should be performed by skincare experts only.
- Laser and Light Therapies: Both of these therapies use tiny beams of intense light that penetrate the surface of the skin to reduce the production of sebum and kill bacteria at the same time. Thus, the blackheads are treated without causing any damage to the outermost layer of the skin.
Read Also – How to Get Rid of Blackheads on Nose Fast?
10 Home Remedies to Remove Blackheads Naturally
Natural remedies are inexpensive and they do not have side effects like many prescription treatments. Also, they offer the ease of being used as per our own convenience. So, here are the 10 most popular remedies that are used to remove blackheads naturally:
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a wonderful natural exfoliator. It is even used by some professional dermatologists for microdermabrasion, which is basically a method of skin exfoliation. Prepare a smooth paste by mixing baking soda with water and scrub the affected part of your skin with it gently for a few minutes twice every week.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has amazing astringent and antibacterial properties, which help in clearing out blocked pores on the skin. As a result, blackheads start disappearing and the skin becomes clear. All you need to do is use apple cider vinegar in your regular face packs and face masks instead of plain water.
3. Egg White
Egg white mask is appreciated for its ability to shrink the pores and tighten the skin, which makes it an effective remedy for blackheads. You can apply the white part of an egg directly to the troubled sections of your skin. Otherwise, blend it with a teaspoon of honey and spread the mixture evenly all over your face, focusing on the areas with dense blackheads. Let it dry for 20-30 minutes and wash the face afterward with warm water. This practice will also enhance the texture of your skin.
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is known for its soothing and moisturizing qualities (7). It also contains zinc and saponin that help in keeping blackheads at bay by tightening pores and cleansing the skin. Moreover, it has great antibacterial effects that prevent blackheads from getting infected (8). Break open a fresh aloe vera leaf and rub the gel scooped out from it onto the blackhead-prone areas of the skin. It accelerates the healing of the uppermost layer skin and can make blackheads disappear or reduce significantly. Leave it overnight and repeat daily for better results.
Table salt is also used to remove blackheads effectively. Washing your face once a day with warm salted water may reduce excess oil from the skin that is responsible for the development of blackheads. The abrasive qualities of salt may remove prominent blackheads too.
6. Ice Cubes
Rubbing ice cubes on the blackhead-affected areas of the skin for about 10 minutes has been found to shrink the pores to a great extent. This helps in keeping the growth and expansion of blackheads in check.
Being rich in vitamin C, lemon increases the production of collagen in the skin while tightening the pores with its astringent properties. This, along with its moisturizing properties, helps in preventing pore-clogging, thereby eliminating blackheads successfully (9). Mix the juice of a lemon with some almond oil and glycerine, and apply it to the affected areas thrice every week. This remedy is effective in the reduction of acne scars too.
Honey is one of the most tried and tested remedies for blackheads. It keeps the skin hydrated and supple by acting as a natural moisturizer, which ensures that the pores do not get clogged by dry and dead cells (10). This eventually keeps blackheads away from the face. Just apply a little warm honey to the face covering the blackheads and wash it off with plain water after 10 minutes.
Steaming is often used in beauty treatments and it helps in softening the stubborn blackheads too. For this, simply put a hot towel over your face for 10 minutes. Then, wash it off with a mild face scrub or face wash. This will make the blackheads surface and eventually clear them away.
10. Clay Mask
When it comes to treating oily skin, clay masks work beautifully. Their ability to absorb excess sebum and deep cleanse the pores makes them ideal for blackhead removal. Apply the mask to your skin regularly to eradicate blackheads completely and make your skin ultra-smooth.
How to Prevent Blackheads?
Finally, here are some must-follow tips that will help you avert the appearance of blackheads on your skin so frequently:
- Make sure that you wash your face with a mild cleanser twice every day.
- Use a gentle, non-abrasive scrub to exfoliate your skin twice every week.
- Always use oil-free, and non-comedogenic products for skincare and makeup.
- Do not squeeze blackheads as it may make the issue even worse by causing irritation.
- Avoid all those factors like humid environments, alcohol-rich skincare products, tight outfits, too much stress, etc. that may trigger blackheads.
Blackheads are tiny, dark bumps or lesions formed on the surface of the skin due to clogged hair follicles. They are the most common form of mild acne, which are found on the nose, chin, neck, shoulders, chest, back, and arms. Rather than trapped dirt, blackheads are caused by the accumulation of excess sebum in the skin pores along with dead cells. Certain triggers of them are hormonal fluctuations, excessive sweating, lack of exfoliation, humid environment, clogging of skin pores with cosmetics, a higher rate of cell turnover, etc. The open-top surface of blackheads turns dark due to oxidization but the comedones do not cause pain or discomfort. Some common treatments of blackheads include OTC medications, prescription drugs, manual extraction, microdermabrasion, light and laser therapies, and chemical peels. But trying natural remedies is always better for removing blackheads in an inexpensive and non-adverse way. You may try baking soda, apple cider vinegar, egg white, aloe vera, table salt, ice cube, lemon, honey, clay masks, steaming for this purpose. Besides, certain preventive tips also help in keeping blackheads at bay.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do You Get Rid of Blackheads Instantly?
Using baking soda paste for exfoliating the blackhead-prone area of the skin will help you get rid of them instantly.
How Does Vaseline Help Get Rid of Blackheads Overnight?
Apply a generous amount of Vaseline to the affected area of the skin, cover it with a plastic wrap, and leave it overnight. Peel it off the next morning to get rid of blackheads.
What Happens If You Don’t Remove Blackheads?
If you do not remove blackheads, they may collect more impurities and more bacteria to form cysts or nodules and get inflamed.
What is the Stuff That Comes Out of Blackheads?
It is ‘pus, which is nothing but inflamed debris made of dead white blood cells.
- “How to Treat Different Types of Acne“, AAD.org
- “Skin Conditions by the Numbers“, AAD.org
- “Blackheads“, Healthline.com
- “Acne (Pimples) Center“, MedicineNet.com
- “Everything You Need to Know About Blackheads“, MedicalNewsToday.com
- “Prescription Medications“, Acne.org
- “Aloe Vera: A Short Review“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “New Perspectives on Antiacne Plant Drugs: Contribution to Modern Therapeutics“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Biological Activities and Safety of Citrus spp. Essential Oils“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Medicinal and Cosmetic Uses of Bee’s Honey – A Review“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov