It can be tempting to squeeze the skin to try to remove blackheads, but this can damage the skin and cause redness.
Blackheads are one of the most common features of acne, a common skin complaint. They appear as tiny black dots on the skin. Blackheads often form on and around the nose, but they can also occur elsewhere on the body.
Blackheads, and acne in general, can cause distress and low self-esteem in some people.
Many products claim to be effective in removing and preventing blackheads, but not all of them have scientific research to support their use.
Here we look at which products and home remedies may be most effective in removing and preventing blackheads.
Avoid using self-removal methods
A person may damage the skin if they try to squeeze blackheads on the nose.
Squeezing blackheads to remove them might be satisfying in the short term, but doing this increases the risk of damaging the skin. Any bacteria on the hands are more likely to pass into the pores, where they could worsen or create more blemishes.
Pore removal strips offer a fast way of extracting oily plugs from the pores, but the effect is short-lived. These strips may trigger a survival response in the sebaceous glands, causing them to produce more oil. Increased oil production can cause more blackheads.
Blackhead remover tools are usually small metal devices with a loop at one end. Unless people have training in how to use them properly, it is best to avoid them. Remover tools may cause more damage to the skin and potentially even lead to scarring.
Some cleansers contain salicylic acid, which helps clear clogged pores. These cleansers tend to be gentler on the skin than benzoyl peroxide, which doctors may prescribe for more severe acne.
Salicylic acid can still irritate the skin, though. Depending on how sensitive the skin is, people may be best limiting their use of salicylic acid products to once every few days.
Finding the right skin care products takes some trial and error. It may be helpful to get recommendations from people who have a similar skin type.
People can apply topical treatments directly to the skin. Retinoids can reduce the number of blackheads that people have and decrease the amount of oil that the skin produces. They can also improve the overall appearance of the skin, as they have anti-inflammatory properties.
A pharmacist or doctor can recommend suitable retinoid creams, which are available over the counter or on prescription.