Blackheads occur when the pores become clogged with bacteria, dead skin cells and normal skin oils. Although blackheads eventually disappear, they often leave visible scars and pockmarks. Some blackhead scars are part of the normal healing process and usually fade away within a year, but others may be deep and long-lasting. Treat acne and blackheads properly and as soon as possible -- early healing is the best way to prevent permanent scarring.
Keep your hands away from your face. Touching your face spreads oil and bacteria, which makes acne worse. Never scratch, pop, or pick blackheads because you may inflame and irritate the skin, which increases the chance of scarring.
Wear sunscreen every time you go outdoors because the sun exposure slows healing, irritates the skin and darkens scars and pockmarks. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, or use a sun-blocking product that contains zinc oxide. Wear a sun hat to protect your face. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Apply an over-the-counter, medicated, acne-treatment product that contains benzoyl peroxide, alpha-hydroxy acid, or beta-hydroxy acid. Use the product regularly according to the recommendations on the package. Although these forms of medication often prevent scarring, they require persistence. Retinoic acid may also be helpful, but it may make the skin more susceptible to sunburn.
- To prevent blackheads, wash your face twice every day to control oil that causes them. Use warm water and mild, fragrance-free soap. Wash and rinse your face gently with clean hands. Avoid washcloths and don't scrub. Rubbing irritates the skin and may promote scars and pockmarks.
- In addition, if your hair is oily, shampoo with a mild, oil-free shampoo every day. Similarly, clip your hair away from your face as much as possible because the oil in your hair may exacerbate acne and blackheads.
- Avoid vitamin-E oil for healing scars and pockmarks. According to Columbia University Health, it may make the problem worse.
- See a dermatologist if your acne isn't relieved by regular care and over-the-counter medications. Topical or oral prescription medications may be more effective and may help prevent scarring and pockmarks.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.