5 Common Questions Answered About Blackheads

We always hear that blackheads are caused by not cleaning their face properly. How true is this?

Obviously, proper hygiene is important because you do not want your face to be a breeding ground for bacteria. Propinonibacterium acnes, the predominant anaerobic bacterium of the normal skin flora, feed on sebum and will convert it to fatty acids, irritating the hair follicle linings. This irritation causes excessive production of cells and cellular debris, which further block the follicles and trap the bacterium inside. One must remember that blocked follicles are a symptom of blackheads. The trapped bacterium inside will aggravate your skin further because they will start off a series of acne infections. Do not use soap based cleansers on your face or scrub your face harshly as it will be too abrasive for your skin.

Are there any lifestyle changes that can be made to prevent blackheads?

Do not put yourself under too much stress. Cortisol, the same hormone that activates the fight-or-flight response, could also stimulate sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, causing more blockages to the hair follicles.

Can girls with blackheads use cosmetics?

Yes but you must be cautious not to use comedogenic products, which may contain mineral oil, peppermint oil and alcohol. Check the labels and buy only water base or organic products for your skin. Also remember to clean your face thoroughly using a wet tissue after applying cosmetics.

Blackhead usually strike when one is in puberty. Does that mean that people who have blackheads have a higher level of hormones?

It is not founded that people who have blackhead have a higher level of hormones, although one does experience a surge of hormones, especially androgens, a male hormone during puberty. Yes, even females produce male hormones in small amount in the ovaries and the adrenal gland. The sebaceous glands are especially sensitive to the stimulation of androgens. That is why sebum production increases and the skin gets oilier and clogged up during puberty thus producing blackheads.

If that is so, why do some adults still get blackheads?

Once we reach 20, the production of sebum should decrease substantially. However, the sebaceous glands remain overactive, causing frustration to some people. This could be due to genetic disposition where one or both of their parents have had blackhead. Some women may observe they have more blackhead breakouts before menstruation. This is perfectly normal as this is caused by hormonal imbalance as progesterone has the effect of stimulating the sebaceous glands.