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ask the doctor: what causes blackheads?

Blackheads are small plugs that form in the exit to the hair follicle (the pore). Normally cells lining the entrance to the follicle gradually move upwards and outwards onto the skin surface as a constant natural procession. 

With blackheads, this movement is slowed causing a build-up of cells in the neck of the hair follicle. It is these combined with sebum that cause the plug in the follicle.

So how do we get rid of them?


Once you have found a cleanser than works for you, use it every day to banish blackheads for good. Find a cleanser that helps to gently prevent blackhead formation by making the environment in the neck of the follicle unfavourable to the formation of a blackhead. Choose a cleanser than contains skin-friendly formulation of salicylic and skin barrier repair lips to adequately cleanse the skin without unwanted harsh stripping. 


Regular exfoliation is also important, but be sure not to over do it. Skin is not like a frying pan dotted with debris that can just be scrubbed clean.


Our very own Dr Patterson recommends trying microdermabrasion and an Epionce salicylic peel combination: The microdermabrasion is controlled exfoliation combined with suction which helps to disrupt and extract the blackheads and the application of salicylic acid helps to further loosen the blockage. The peel has additional anti-bacterial, oil control and anti-inflammatory effects. A skilled therapist adept at extractions is helpful but becoming a very rare commodity these days. Dr Patterson says "I have to stress the combining these treatments with a long-term thought-out skincare regime is vital to preventing and treating blackheads."

Should we squeeze blackheads? Our Dr has the answer! “Simply squeezing the area may temporarily remove the blackhead but it will quickly reform unless you adopt a skincare routine to reduce blackhead formation. There is no reason why you cannot squeeze a blackhead, as long as you are careful not to cause actual damage. Gently heating the area with a warm and clean face cloth prior to extraction may help. Long, sharp finger nails are not ideal though as this tends to cause skin trauma.”