What are Blackheads?

A very common element in the list of skin issues is blackheads. Many people suffer from blackheads on a regular basis. Although seen mostly among the adolescent population, there are adults, too, who are terrorised by these little spots that occur on the skin. They appear like little dirt bumps, mainly around the nose, forehead, neck, back or chest but on close observation, one can see clogged follicles trapped inside.

On a very general note, a blackhead is a comedone (plural: comedones). Comedones are pores in the skin that are plugged with dead skin cells. This releases an oily secretion called sebum. Thus, this makes blackheads quite different from pimples (although they have certain phenotypic similarities). While pimples are considered painful, carrying a whitish fluid, blackheads are painless spots on the skin present in clusters.

Blackheads do not directly affect your physical health. However, due to the social stigma attached to it, blackheads have been recorded to cause a large amount of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts – mostly from insecure thoughts conditioned by their social surrounding. This social taboo against blackheads arises from the false claim that blackheads are bags of dirt trapped in the skin.

Blackheads are naturally occurring, and for anyone uncomfortable with it, there are many solutions to the problem that can discard blackheads from the root and help you gain healthy skin.


There are multiple causes of blackheads. Blackheads are formed when hair grows in pores and sebum-producing sebaceous glands are trapped. When plugged with the dead skin cells, they (the dead skin cells) turn black, giving rise to blackheads on the skin. This is why blackheads are often found around the nose, forehead, chest, or even armpits, where hair follicles are more likely to occur.

These trapped and blackened dead skin cells are often falsely claimed to be dirt. But the truth is that the true nature of blackheads is made of oxidised melanin instead of dirt. This also brought up the notion that blackheads are directly related to hygiene.

Some other causes of blackheads include an abnormal increase in sebum level and even abnormal keratin formation.

Hormonal changes in adolescence are yet another major factor contributing to the formation of blackheads. In younger boys, blackheads are triggered by the production of Androgen. At the same time, women get blackheads due to menstruation, pregnancy, and even due to the use of birth control pills.

Blackheads can also grow due to the regular use of makeup or clothes that cover the pores. We can also see a rise in blackheads in people who use steroid-based drugs.


Blackheads are indeed not an issue arising from poor hygiene. Identifying the cause helps identify the treatment better. While blackheads are not directly harmful, it is crucial to get rid of dead skin cells and free the skin from them. Looking forward to removing blackheads? Here are four major ingredients you must look out for in any product that promote the reduction of blackheads.

  1. Salicylic Acid:

Salicylic acid is a recurring ingredient in several skin care products. Out of its several benefits, its ability to remove blackheads is quite popular. Salicylic acid removes the layer of damaged skin by dissolving it and thus prevents any form of clogging of the hair follicles. In the skin care industry, salicylic acid can be found in the form of lotions or cleansers with added benefits.

  1. Benzoyl Peroxide

Yet another popular ingredient, benzoyl peroxide, is a brilliant solution to blackheads, given that the condition is being caused due to some bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide is often packed as face washes or gels. After regular use, positive changes are guaranteed to appear on the skin as the concentration of blackheads goes down. However, ensure optimum use of the product, for excessive benzoyl peroxide may lead to dry skin and irritation.

  1. Retinoids

A go-to solution for blackheads for several skin care experts is retinoids. Products containing retinoids can directly attack blackheads and break them slowly over the course of continued use. However, due to its wear and repair method of functioning, it may cause specific side effects. Thus, retinoids are mostly recommended to use with moisturisers to overcome these side effects.

  1. Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is primarily used as an antibacterial. Given the situation that microorganisms form blackheads, azelaic acids can be the perfect solution.

What To Avoid?

A major cause of blackheads is the oily nature of sebum. Thus, when facing off with a blackhead outburst, avoid using oil-based skin care products. Furthermore, avoid squeezing or scratching blackheads, for it only worsens them.

Blackheads are natural to occur under hormonal imbalance. Even under outbreaks, understand that it is relatively common. So, make sure to eat yourself with love to get rid of blackheads with comfort and ease.

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