Blackheads; Causes, Treatment, Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Blackheads

Blackheads; Causes, Treatment, Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Blackheads

Blackheads are small bumps that appear on your skin due to clogged hair follicles. These bumps are called blackheads because the surface looks dark or black. Blackheads are a mild type of acne that usually form on the face,

Causes of Blackheads

Oil production in the sebaceous glands increases during puberty, causing comedones and acne to be common in adolescents. Acne is also found premenstrually and in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Smoking may worsen acne.

Oxidation rather than poor hygiene or dirt causes blackheads to be black. Washing or scrubbing the skin too much could make it worse, by irritating the skinTouching and picking at comedones might cause irritation and spread infection.It is not clear what effect shaving has on the development of comedones or acne.

Some, but not all, skin products might increase comedones by blocking pores, and greasy hair products (like pomades) can worsen acne. Skin products that claim to not clog pores may be labeled noncomedogenic or non-acnegenic. Make-up and skin products that are oil-free and water-based may be less likely to cause acne. It is not known whether dietary factors or sun exposure make comedones better, worse or have no effect.

A hair that does not emerge normally can also block the pore and cause a bulge or lead to infection (causing inflammation and pus).

Genes may play a role in the chances of developing acne. Comedones may be more common in some ethnic groups. People of recent African descent may experience more inflammation in comedones, more comedonal acne, and earlier onset of inflammation.

Some factors can increase your chances of developing acne and blackheads, including

  • producing too much body oil
  • the buildup of the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on the skin
  • irritation of the hair follicles when dead skins cells don’t shed on a regular basis
  • undergoing hormonal changes that cause an increase in oil production during the teen years, during menstruation, or while taking birth control pills
  • taking certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, lithium, or androgens

Some people believe that what you eat or drink can affect acne. Dairy products and foods that increase blood sugar levels, such as carbohydrates, may play a part in triggering acne, but researchers aren’t convinced that there’s a strong connection.

Treatment of  Blackheads

Most people manage their blackheads at home without needing to see a doctor, but some activities can make them worse or trigger a more severe type of acne.

There are many myths and contradictions about how to treat blackheads, so it may be best to see what works for you.

Do’s for blackheads

Cleansing – Special scrubs for gently exfoliating the face can help. Look

for those that are fragrance-free and for sensitive skin, and avoid anything that makes your skin overly dry. Various products are available to purchase online.

While it is important to dry up the skin by decreasing excessive oil production, drying it too much may make matters worse due to stimulating the extra production of oil by the glands.

Make-up and cosmetics – Use non-comedogenic products that do not clog pores instead should keep the pores clear and open and reduce the buildup of dead skin. Non-comedogenic makeup is available to purchase online from various brands.

Prescription treatments – Azelaic acid, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide are also available in both prescription and over the counter (OTC) forms for non-inflammatory acne. These are topical treatments, applied directly to the skin.

Prescription medications that contain vitamin A, such as tretinoin, tazarotene, and adapalene, may be prescribed to keep plugs from forming in the hair follicles and promote the more rapid turnover of skin cells.

However, most people do not seek these treatments until their acne has worsened to become an infected or more severe form, such as pimples. It might be best to have a skin care specialist remove the blackheads if they become bothersome.

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Underlying conditions – Any other skin problems, such as eczema or rosacea, can make treating blackheads a little harder. The condition should be treated before the acne, as successful treatment may lead to improvements in the blackheads.

Rest and relaxation – Getting enough rest and avoiding stress can also help, as stress can trigger sebum production. Exercise can help reduce stress.

Food – Research has not confirmed that cutting out fries or chocolate either will or will not reduce acne, but a healthful, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is beneficial for overall health. It may reduce the risk of skin lesions becoming infected.

Don’ts for blackheads

Hormonal triggers can make blackheads unavoidable, but some factors can increase the risk or make them worse.

Squeezing – Avoid squeezing blackheads, even with a metal blackhead remover, as this can irritate the skin and make the problem worse.

Steaming –  A steam bath has long been recommended as a treatment for blackheads, on the basis that it “opens the pores.” However, this has not been confirmed by research. Some people find it makes the problem worse.

Scrubbing – This can worsen the problem. Scrubbing removes sebum. The sebaceous glands then work harder to replace the sebum, leading to more blockages and the risk of inflammatory acne.

Remover – Removal strips, masks, and vacuums should be used with caution, as these can irritate and damage the skin if misused.

Makeup and cosmetics – Avoid oil-based makeups and skin care products.

Other environmental triggers to avoid are:

  • humid environments
  • tight clothes that close off the skin
  • skin products with alcohol, as these can also tighten and dry out the skin

Hydrogen peroxide – This has been recommended for acne. It can reduce the severity of outbreaks, but it is also a harsh product that can dry and irritate the skin. Researchers remain undecided about whether it should be used or not, because of its adverse effects.

7 Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of Blackheads

Apply a mix of mashed bananas+coconut oil, powdered orange peels+honey, or baking soda+water to the skin in soft, circular motions to exfoliate. Brush on some egg whites or slather on some honey, lemon juice to the area to prevent new breakouts. You can also steam your face and purge the blackheads. Avoid salt and toothpaste remedies and never pick at the zit!

Are unseemly black spots ruining your appearance? If the idea of ripping them out using ready-made “blackhead removal strips” or wax doesn’t sound appealing, we’ve got your back! Explore these gentler, more natural remedies for removing and even preventing blackheads.

But first, what are these “unsightly” spots? Blackheads are tiny yellowish or black bumps that erupt on your skin. They are, in fact, one of 6 different types of spots that fall under acne; others include whiteheads, pustules, nodules, cysts, and papules. Also called comedones, blackheads are caused when hair follicles or pores get clogged. Specifically, when these comedones reach the surface of the skin and stay open they are blackheads, and when they’re closed and remain within the skin they’re called whiteheads.

Hormonal changes, as in puberty or during childbirth, or birth control pills (both getting on one or stopping) can trigger a breakout. Hormonal changes cause sebaceous glands that produce the natural oil or sebum to go into overdrive. This excess sebum combines with dead skin cells to plug your pores, resulting in blackheads.

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Blackheads aren’t “black” with dirt as popular lore would have you believe! When the sebum or oil and other particulates in an open comedo come in contact with the air, they tend to oxidize and discolor. This is the color you see on the bumps.

Blackheads can remain on your skin indefinitely unless you do something to get rid of them. While there are topical treatments, antibiotics, and other pills you can take to treat acne, including blackheads, try these natural alternatives if you want something milder.

1. Steam

Steaming your face is one of the most effective ways to clean the skin and deal with blackheads. It softens the skin and makes it easier for the blackhead to purge itself.5 You could begin by washing the skin with a mild, unscented cleanser. Rinse off and then pat dry before you start the vaporizer. Keep it about a foot and a half away from your skin to avoid burning yourself, but close enough so the steam hits the blackheads. Do this for about 10 minutes and then wipe your face with a soft, clean towel.

2. Clean Up With Fruit Scrubs And Masks

Use a natural scrub made from fruit peels like those of an orange or fruits like bananas. These act as a gentle exfoliant. Do keep in mind that the frequency will have to vary depending on your skin type and the intensity of the exfoliant used. If you have thick and oily skin, a daily regimen might be needed. On the other hand, if you have sensitive or dry skin, once a week should be enough. To make a banana-based scrub, mash some up and use on its own or with coconut oil or honey. Powdered orange peel can be mixed with honey or water. Apply to the skin using gentle circular motions to exfoliate.

Alternatively, use a fruit mask. This is gentler on the skin since it won’t require you to “scrub.” Just mash up the fruit with a carrier oil or honey. Avocado works well to cut inflammation and can be blended with honey, which nourishes the skin and fights bacteria. Raw papaya is another effective option. It can remove dead skin cells, soak up excess oils, and fight inflammation thanks to the papain enzyme.7

3. Try Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural antiseptic that can cleanse the skin and help you slough off dead skin. To use, simply make a paste of a spoonful of baking soda with water and apply to the blackheads before rinsing off with lukewarm water. This should help unclog the pores. This treatment will leave your skin feeling fresh and clean.

Do note that this remedy isn’t for everyone. Baking soda can be too harsh for some skin types, so first check how your skin reacts to it. Do an allergy test on a small patch of skin before using it all over your face.

4. Get Rid Of Dead Skin With Sugar

Glycolic acid found in sugar can act as a natural exfoliant. It can even help treat acne by breaking down dead skin, allowing it to be easily removed. It also helps skin regenerate by stimulating collagen synthesis.

Simply make a homemade mask with sugar, fruits, and milk (all of which contain glycolic acid) and wash away after 5–10 minutes. Oatmeal, honey, milk, and bananas are popular choices. Muscovado sugar, in particular, works well with any of these. If used along with a topical retinoid, its effectiveness increases even further.

What about all those popular remedies with salt? While salt can be a base for scrubs, it’s best avoided on the face. Salt can be too harsh for your face, leaving the skin rough and dry.

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5. Brush On Some Egg White

Just applying some egg white to the area where you have blackheads or acne can help tremendously. As the white dries, it tightens the skin, pushing pores shut and squeezing out the excess sebum and clogging. Use between 2 to 3 egg whites at a time. Once dry, wipe away gently with a clean towel dampened with lukewarm water.

6. Slather On Some Honey

If your blackheads are inflammatory, you could benefit from using honey. Researchers suggest that this non-irritating sugar can be a safer substitute for stronger (and harsher) antimicrobials on the market, including benzoyl peroxide. When applied to pimples or blackheads, honey inhibits bacterial growth, helping you combat breakouts.

7. Use Lemon Juice

Lemon juice, when applied to blackheads, can kill bacteria responsible for acne and act as a disinfectant, preventing new breakouts. Better yet, it also lightens the skin as well as any unsightly scars.

Does Toothpaste Work?

A popular home remedy for removing blackheads involves dabbing some toothpaste on the affected area. The antimicrobial action of the paste is believed to help cleanse the area. However, as much as one would want them to work on blackheads, this remedy works better for whiteheads, according to research. Toothpaste can also dry your skin out, so this isn’t a remedy we would recommend.

How To Avoid Blackheads

One way to reduce the incidence of blackheads due to bacteria is by keeping the skin clean. Use natural antibacterial cleansers like tea tree oil or neem oil diluted with carrier oils like olive, coconut, or almond oil. You can also try lemon juice mixed with honey. Steaming the face or exfoliating can also help get rid of dead skin cells that could clog up pores.

Another equally important thing to do is to reduce triggers of inflammation. Sugar is inflammatory, as are saturated and trans fats, refined carbs, and omega-6 fatty acids.15

Also take care not to pick at the blackheads. You’ll just end up pushing more dirt and bacteria into your skin and increasing inflammation.


  1. “Clinical pearl: comedone extraction for persistent macrocomedones while on isotretinoin therapy”The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology4 (11): 20–1. PMC 3225139PMID 22132254.
  2. Jump up to:a b c Primary Care Dermatology Society. “Acne: macrocomedones”Clinical Guidance. Primary  “Extraction of follicular horny impactions the face by polymers. Efficacy and safety of a cosmetic pore-cleansing strip (Bioré)”Journal of Dermatological Treatment10 (1): 47–52. doi:10.3109/09546639909055910.
  3.  “A review of acne in ethnic skin: pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and management strategies”The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology3(4): 24–38. PMC 2921746PMID 20725545.



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