Having blackheads is about as fun as reversing into a pole. Or accidentally liking an 86-week-old photo while on an Instagram stalk. Or laundry day.
Yeah they’re annoying, but it’s kinda nice to know that blackheads happen to everyone. And even better – unlike laundry, they aren’t something you continually have to deal with.
There are a few different ways to treat and prevent blackheads from coming back – but before we get to that, let’s clear something up…
Are blackheads dirt?
It’s commonly thought that a blackhead is dirt stuck in the pore. Thankfully that’s a myth.
“The black colour of the blackhead is due to discolouration of the sebum when exposed to air. It is not dirt and people with blackheads are not dirty,” Dermatologist Professor Rodney Sinclair told Mamamia.
Dermatologist Doctor Jo-Ann See agrees. “A blackhead is definitely not a sign of lack of hygiene – that’s one of the acne myths.”
So, what are blackheads?
If they’re not dirt, then what are they and why are they black?!
“The medical name for a blackhead is an open comedo,” said Professor Sinclair.
“It is caused by a buildup of oil, known as sebum in the hair follicle that dilates the pore. The sebum is produced by the oil glands on the side of the hair follicle called the sebaceous gland.”
“When the oil is exposed to air it oxidises. That process produces a colour change in the sebum that turns it black, hence the name blackhead.”
How can blackheads be treated?
Dr See suggests washing with cleansers and exfoliators specifically formulated to treat congested skin.
“Washing the affected area with an acne wash which contains salicylic, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide or even a gentle exfoliating cleanser can often help.”