What Really Causes Blackheads?

No one likes to deal with any type of acne. Regardless of whether it's whiteheads, pimples, or blackheads, acne is an unwanted visitor to all. Despite the strong feelings you may have against acne, it's a fairly common struggle everyone deals with at some point. Still, many don't know why they have recurring acne. Knowing the cause behind the most common acne struggles will help you prevent them in the future. What's more, many types of acne have a common cause, making it much easier to avoid multiple types of acne with the proper care.

One of the types of acne that people seem to deal with the most is blackheads. While blackheads don't look like your typical acne, they're but one form of acne. Blackheads are non-inflammatory acne lesions, but while they might look different, they should receive the same care as any acne. These acne lesions get their black color due to a tiny difference in the process, which makes it a blackhead rather than a whitehead. While blackheads seem small and insignificant, they can become troublesome when they never seem to leave.

The reason you get blackheads

The cause of your blackheads is not drastically different than your typical acne. West County Dermatology explains that blackheads happen when dead skin cells or excess oil clog the hair follicles on your skin. When these enter the follicle, they can produce a bump on the skin. If there's an opening in the skin over the bump, air will enter and oxidize the clogged follicle, causing it to turn black. Blackheads usually occur when there's an excess of oil production or your dead skin cells aren't removed from the skin often.

If you're dealing with blackheads, it's likely because of your hormones. According to Bioclarity, hormone fluctuations are one of the most common causes of blackheads. Fluctuating hormones lead to excess oil production, which clogs the hair follicles. You can suffer from hormone fluctuations during puberty, menstruation, or pregnancy. If you are genetically predisposed to acne breakouts or your parents also had excess oil and acne, then you're probably going to have the same issue. You might also find more blackheads if you leave sweat on your skin for a long time without cleaning. Sweat-containing acne-causing bacteria can clog your hair follicles, meaning the sooner you clean up after working out, the less chance you have of waking up with blackheads.

How to treat your blackheads

Because blackheads are a common skin issue, there are plenty of products and hacks for treating them. The easiest way to treat blackheads is by using skincare products containing glycolic acid and salicylic acid. These ingredients work by going into the hair follicle and dissolving anything clogging it. These products can also help remove dead skin cells before they plug the hair follicles. Retinol is another ingredient that can easily remove your blackheads. The harsher topical retinoid products are usually available with a prescription and can exfoliate the skin, which rids anything clogging pores or follicles. When used with caution, retinol can also help prevent future blackheads.

To prevent blackheads from happening, you want to focus on balancing your oil production. Proactiv recommends keeping your skin well-hydrated to avoid dry skin. While some might think that more hydration will lead to more clogged follicles, excess oil production happens when the skin feels too dry. For that reason, you want to keep your skin hydrated. If you see too much oil, you want to absorb the excess with a weekly face mask. A face mask is a great way to rebalance your skin and avoid excess oil from sitting on your face.