Blackheads are so common, yet many do not know exactly what they are. They occur mainly on oily skin, or oily areas of combination skin. The excess secretion of oil expands the pores of the skin. The skin’s natural oil collects in the pores and hardens into a plug. Since the pores are open, the tip of the hardened oil is exposed to the air. It oxidizes and turns black – hence the name blackheads. Many believe that blackheads are dirt in the pores. However, oily skins do tend to attract dirt and grime from the environment and these also collect in the pores along with the hardened oil. Blackheads actually cause the pores to enlarge further and thus, people with oily skin end up with a coarse and rough skin, with large open pores.
Apart from the fact that blackheads look unsightly, they are also the cause of acne. In fact, the primary acne lesion is actually a blackhead. When a pore is fully blocked with hardened oil, the oil gland can get infected, resulting in a pimple. If the infection progresses, it ruptures the well of the oil gland and attacks the inner layer of the skin, giving way to an acne condition. That is why the control of blackheads is a way of preventing acne. Blackheads not only appear on the face, but also on the back, shoulders, arms, chest and other areas that are rich in oil producing glands.
The main part of dealing with blackheads is proper cleansing. Wash the face twice a day, morning and night, with a medicated soap or cleanser, using lukewarm water. After washing, wipe the blackhead prone areas and other oily areas with an astringent lotion. Rose based skin tonics are also available.
After washing in the morning, mix bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) with water into a paste and apply on the blackhead prone areas. Wash it off after 5 minutes. Use facial scrubs two or three times a week. Apply the scrub on the face and rub gently on the skin with small circular movements, especially on the areas with blackheads. Leave on for a few minutes and then wash off with water. If your skin is prone to stubborn blackheads, go for clean-up treatments at a beauty salon, where cleansing and exfoliation will be done and blackheads will be extracted. Blackhead extraction is a professional job and should be left to a trained therapist. Avoid pinching blackheads with the nails, as it can lead to infection.
Apply a face mask twice a week, by mixing one teaspoon each of oats, wheat bran (choker), ground almonds with egg white and one teaspoon each of honey and curd. It should be a paste which does not drip. Apply on the face and wash it off after half an hour.
To prevent blackheads, keep the skin free of surface oil. Astringent lotions help to reduce oiliness. Fuller’s Earth or Multani Mitti also helps. Mix it with rose water into a paste and apply on the face. Wash off when it dries. If there are open pores, apply oats. Mix it with egg white and apply on the areas with open pores and blackheads two or three times a week. Wash it off when it dries. If you have an oily skin, avoid the use of oily creams and moisturizers. These can clog the pores and lead to blackheads.
I would like to emphasize that daily skin care is the only way to avoid skin problems. One must know the needs of one’s own skin and treat it accordingly, with appropriate products.