Blackheads occur when the pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. When the clog becomes large enough to stretch the opening of the pore, the oily substance is exposed to air, causing oxidation and an unsightly black appearance. Blackheads normally occur on the chest, back and neck, and are especially noticeable when they show up on the face. Proper skin care and over-the-counter medications can help reduce the occurrence of blackheads.
Wash your skin every evening and after strenuous exercise. Use a gentle, fragrance-free antibacterial soap for oily skin. Massage the soap onto your skin with your moist fingers or a clean, damp washcloth, then splash water on your face to remove the soap completely. Use lukewarm water as hot or cold water may irritate your skin.
Pat your skin dry with a soft, clean towel. Never rub your skin with the towel. Apply oil-free moisturizer to keep skin hydrated.
Wash your hair at least twice a week. Keep your hair away from your forehead as much as possible. Be sure to use different towels for face, body and hair after showering to avoid transmitting oils. Also be sure to regularly wash pillowcases to avoid a buildup of oils from your hair getting onto your skin.
Read the label carefully when purchasing cosmetics. Look for products labeled oil-free or noncomedogenic, which won't clog your pores. Always remove cosmetics before going to bed.
Apply a non-comedogenic, non-oily sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more every time you go outdoors.
For spot treatments, apply an over-the-counter product containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, which will help to kill bacteria and decrease production of oil. Start with the lowest concentration possible because the medications may dry and irritate your skin. Use the products as directed on the label -- usually once or twice per day. Always apply the medications to clean, dry skin, using clean hands.
Be patient and don't stop treating your skin if your blackheads don't disappear immediately. Eliminating blackheads with topical medications may take four to six weeks or longer, and you may need to continue using the medication for several months.
Never apply benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or other medications to red, irritated or sunburned skin. Stop using the product if your skin itches, tingles or peels.
See a doctor or dermatologist if at-home care doesn't relieve severe blackheads within six to eight weeks. Prescription medications may be needed to treat your acne.