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What are Blackheads?


What are blackheads?

Spotted a blackhead or two? You’re hardly alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly nine in 10 Americans experience blackheads. And they aren’t limited to teens -- adults get them too.

So what exactly are blackheads?

  • Technical terms: Blackheads are a specific type of acne caused by clogged pores and hair follicles.
  • What causes them: As dead skin cells and common oils collect in these follicles, microscopic bumps called comedones form below the surface. The skin typically stays closed around this clog, creating a small whitehead. However, if the skin opens, some of the oil can escape, oxidize and turn black causing a “blackhead” to pop to the surface.
  • From blackhead to pimple: If blackheads get infected or inflamed, they become pimples and can impact both the immediate skin surface and the tissue surrounding. But most blackheads go away in a few days without getting infected.
  • Where blackheads appear: While blackheads are most common on the face -- the side of the nose, specifically, as well as the forehead, chin and other oily spots -- many people get these micro-clogs in other spots, including their back, shoulders, arms and ears. Because the human body has millions of hair follicles, it’s possible to get a blackhead virtually anywhere.
  • Don’t pop!: It is tempting to squeeze out a blackhead, but remember that “popping” pimples can lead to infections and future breakouts. Opt, instead, for acne-focused washes, cleansers and exfoliants that contain salicylic or glycolic acid which, when used on blackheads, unclog oil and dead skin cells without the risk.  

Learn more about getting and keeping clear skin from HEALTHY ESSENTIALS®.

©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2016