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Monday, October 31, 2005

How to Remove Blackheads

The bane of most teenagers existence is pimples. But they may also have another skin problem that will stay with them past the hormonal years, and that's blackheads. These are something that can follow a person for much of their life, because they are related to two common factors of everyday life: oil production in your skin, and dead skin cells.

Contrary to popular belief, blackheads are not the result of dirt accumulating in overly deep pores. The "black" part arises from a combination of dead skin cells and sebum, or oil, although it is actually the skin particles that cause the color.

Unlike pimples, which can be a bacterial infection that turns the skin red and fills a pocket with pus, blackheads are flat spots that have filled with the cells that our skin sheds on a daily basis, and oil from the sebaceous glands. But people will treat them the same as pimples and try to squeeze or pop them to remove the unsightly mark. This is the last thing you should do, as it irritates the skin, and can start an infection under the plug of dirt and oil.

Actual removal of blackheads can be done by a dermatologist who uses a small cylindrical instrument that has a tiny opening that goes over the blackhead. It's pressed on the spot for a few seconds, and the resulting pressure around the edges will help dislodge the plug in the pore.

Prevention is they key to reducing the incidence of blackheads, as some people who have particularly active sebaceous glands, especially on the forehead or along the nose and chin, may have blackheads most of their lives.

While a good soap will help remove the oils on your skin, it doesn't get rid of the dead skin cells. A cleanser with salicylic acid will not only clean surface oil, but will get rid of skin debris that is waiting to clog up more pores. Alpha-hydroxi acid formulas will help to gently exfoliate the dead skin cells so there is less shedding skin left on the surface to sink down into pores.

Glycolic peels are very useful, in that they not only remove dead skin cells, but help loosen and lift some of the clogged material in pores. It may take five or six peels, to see visible results. Generally speaking, a home program of salicylic acid cleansers and glycolic peels is the key to reducing the number of blackheads that you get.

The only time you should not use the peels, is if you are using a topical retinoid, which loosens the blackheads, while speeding up the rate at which dead skin cells are sloughed off. Both of these at once, can cause skin irritation.

by Brenda H. Murphy


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