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How to get rid of blackheads

Black woman with short hair washing her face in the mirror thinking about how to get rid of blackheads
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Blackheads are a common form of acne that many of us experience in our teenage years and adult life. Here we share how to remove, treat and prevent blackheads for clearer looking skin.

What causes blackheads?

Blackheads begin to form when a hair follicle becomes blocked with dead skin cells and sebum oil (natural oil made by the skin). This causes a bump called a comedone, or what we know to be a spot. If the surface of the comedone closes, it forms a whitehead. If it stays open and is exposed to oxygen in the air, it darkens, becoming a blackhead

Where can you get blackheads?

You can get blackheads anywhere on the skin however they are more likely to form where there is a higher amount of sebaceous oil glands.

These include:

  • The nose, chin and forehead
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Chest

Blackheads can also appear on your ears, lips and elsewhere on the face or body.

How to remove blackheads?

There are various different ways you can remove blackheads on your skin and body. It might be tempting to squeeze them however this isn’t the best method. Doing so is actually likely to invite more bacteria and cause further breakouts.

Instead, you may choose to do the following:

  • Exfoliate your skin with face scrub by gently massaging it into problem areas such as your T-zone (forehead, nose and chin)
  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt and bacteria
  • Speak to your pharmacist about which over-the-counter gels or creams are best for your skin 
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What not to do when treating blackheads?

  • Wear too much make-up or oily products that will clog your pores
  • Leave make-up on overnight or use dirty make-up brushes
  • Touch your face during the day
  • Pick or squeeze spots which can cause infection and increase the risk of scarring
  • Use toothpaste on your blackheads which will cause dryness and irritation 

Can blackheads get infected? 

Blackheads can become infected if you pick or squeeze them. Doing so breaks down the skin around the clogged pore, allowing bacteria to enter. An infected blackhead will be red, swollen or painful. It may also have white or yellow pus, which can spread causing a wider breakout.

Blackheads are normally nothing to worry about but if you have severe acne, nodules or cysts, then you should consult a pharmacist or GP for treatment.

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How to prevent blackheads?

Follow the below tips to help keep your skin breakout free:

  • Cleanse your skin twice a day night
  • Use a light moisturiser on your skin twice a day
  • Use oil-free skincare products
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Wash your face gently after you sweat excessively
  • Change your bedsheets and pillowcases often
  • Sanitise your phone to get rid of bacteria
  • Wash your hands before touching your face
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with not too much sugar
  • Wash your make-up brushes regularly
  • Wear SPF on your face every day

Blackheads are extremely common, especially for those with oily skin. Whilst they’re harmless, they can be frustrating. Thankfully there’s lots you can do to treat blackheads and prevent them from returning.

It’s always best to see a professional if you want to remove blackheads but a good skincare regime of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising is the best approach.

Find out more about how to look after your skin, including acne treatment, the best vitamins for healthy skin and the causes of dryness.