Some blackheads are deeper than others and may potentially be harder to remove. However, certain treatments can be effective in getting rid of deep blackheads.
Blackheads are dark lesions that appear at the surface of the skin. They occur when the pores of the skin become clogged with dead cells and oily secretions.
Read on for information on the causes, treatment, and prevention of deep blackheads.
Blackheads are a symptom of acne, a common condition that affects the pores of the skin. While some people may have additional signs of acne, such as inflamed pimples, others may just have blackheads.
Scientists understand that an important cause of acne is the overproduction of sebum. Sebum is an oily secretion that the skin produces.
When a person has acne, the pores of their skin may become clogged with a mixture of sebum and dead skin cells. Pores that contain these trapped plugs are known as comedones.
If a comedone is open at the surface of the skin, it appears as a black lesion because the trapped material becomes oxidized. As a result, people often refer to open comedones as blackheads. Some blackheads form particularly deep in the skin.
Certain individuals may be particularly prone to deep blackheads. Researchers have found evidence that a person is more likely to develop acne if they:
- are an adolescent
- have a family history of acne
- are menstruating
- are experiencing stress
As acne occurs due to an overproduction of sebum, deep blackheads often appear in areas that have a higher concentration of sebaceous glands.
Sebaceous glands are small glands in the skin that are responsible for the production of sebum.
The highest concentrations of sebaceous glands are in the scalp, forehead, and face, which explains why acne primarily affects this area of the body.
Deep blackheads most commonly occur on the face, but they can also appear on other parts of the body, such as the neck, back, chest, shoulders, and arms.
Different treatment options exist for deep blackheads, although not all of them have undergone extensive study. Some of the more common treatment options include:
A healthcare professional will often recommend topical treatments for acne, which can also treat deep blackheads.
People apply topical treatments directly to the affected area of the skin. They usually come in the form of a gel, cream, lotion, or wash.
Examples of topical treatments include:
- azelaic acid
- benzoyl peroxide
- chemical peels, using hydroxy acids
- hydrogen peroxide
Certain topical acne medications are especially effective in dealing with deep blackheads. For instance, research has shown that benzoyl peroxide and many topical retinoids inhibit comedone development.
Topical medications are easy to use, and they are often available over the counter. However, researchers have found that some topical acne medications can cause skin irritation. These include:
- azelaic acid
- benzoyl peroxide
Oral antibiotic treatment
Not everyone responds well to topical medication. These treatments may be ineffective or less suitable for people whose acne is more severe or on a part of the body that is harder to reach, such as the back.
In these cases, healthcare professionals often recommend orally administered antibiotics as an alternative.
Some dermatologists recommend the manual extraction of especially deep blackheads, which requires the use of specialized comedone extractor tools.
People should not attempt comedone extraction at home, as the risk of infection or scarring is high. A professional dermatologist can extract deep blackheads safely and offer advice on aftercare.
It is also important to avoid squeezing the skin to remove blackheads, as this can damage it and worsen its appearance.
Research suggests that certain home remedies are generally well-tolerated, although there is little scientific evidence that they are effective. Popular home remedies for acne include:
- tea tree oil
- jojoba oil
- aloe vera
- green tea
Although more research is necessary, there is some evidence that certain strategies may help prevent blackheads.
Research suggests that dietary changes may help some people prevent or manage deep blackheads.
For example, there is evidence to suggest that diets with a high glycemic load might worsen acne.
Glycemic load is a measure that considers the amount of carbohydrate in a portion of food and how quickly that food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with a high glycemic load include:
- certain types of bread, such as white bread and French baguette
- some processed breakfast cereals
- cakes and biscuits
- sugary beverages, such as soda and energy drinks
Researchers have also shown that milk intake may promote the formation of blackheads.
Together, these findings indicate that reducing dairy consumption and glycemic load could inhibit the development of deep blackheads.
Skin hygiene is also important. Regularly washing the face can reduce the buildup of sebum and dead skin cells in the pores.
Deeper blackheads can be hard to remove at home. If someone has tried to remove deep blackheads and been unsuccessful, they may wish to see a dermatologist.
Although blackheads do not necessarily require treatment, they can sometimes affect a person’s well-being. One article notes that people with acne can experience anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. They may also become socially withdrawn.
If someone is concerned that their blackheads may be negatively affecting their mental health, they may find it helpful to discuss this with a counselor.
A doctor can prescribe medication to help treat persistent or severe acne.
Blackheads are a common feature of acne, and some can be deeper than others. They are most likely to occur on and around the face.
Many people who develop blackheads wish to remove them at home, but the deeper the blackhead, the harder it may be to remove safely.
A range of home remedies and medical treatments can help treat deep blackheads, while dietary and lifestyle changes may help prevent them from developing. A dermatologist or doctor can prescribe treatments for very deep blackheads or severe acne.