Blackheads, those dark spots that appear underneath the skin, can be unsightly and unpleasant. They are caused by the accumulation of oils, skin cells and bacteria in the pores, according to acnetalks.com. When this mixture is pushed to the surface, the air oxidizes the contents and gives it the blackish appearance. Because blackheads are essentially dead pimples, they are not painful and can be removed but you must do this carefully to avoid permanent damage to the skin or spreading bacteria.
Prepare the Skin
The skin is a porous and elastic organ. It responds to stimuli in different ways and one way to condition it is through heat and moisture. Moisture serves to soften the skin and heat opens the pores naturally as the body wants to release sweat more easily.
The method by which you accomplish this is up to you but steam is a good option, as is pressing a warm washcloth to the area.
Another important consideration is to avoid the spread of a bacterial infection. Keep your hands clean, as well as any tools that will be touching the area. Disinfecting with rubbing alcohol can help but do not apply alcohol directly to the skin, as it can seep into cuts and cause further inflammation, as well as drying out the skin and defeating the purpose of the warm moisture.
Remove the Blackhead
To remove the blackhead, you need to apply pressure at the base of the pore to force it through the thin layer of skin holding it in. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, the most common and basic is the use of a tissue and simply pressing the fingers around the edges of the blackhead.
If this method does not work, you might use tools, such as tweezers. Maintain the same technique, not squeezing the top of the blackhead, but squeezing from the base. Care Fair, a skin care web site recommends using aligned tweezers in order to avoid slipping and scratching the skin. It offers similar warnings for tools such as metal loop extractors, which allow you to place a loop over the blackhead to force it out, or spoon extractors, which are similar to tweezers. If the blackhead doesn't pop out with relative ease, do not force it as this could lead to scarring or spreading of infection by rupturing the pore and releasing the bacteria to other areas of the skin.
Coax Out the Blackhead
If the squeezing methods do not bring the blackheads to the surface, you may need to give it more time to rise to the surface by itself. There are a few things you can do to expedite the process. Exfoliation of the skin is important, as it removes dead skin cells from the surface and might stimulate the skin beneath.
You also can try methods that pull the blackheads rather than push. One common method is the use of blackhead strips, which connect to the blackheads through glue, and then pull them out when you yank the strip away. Or, there are blackhead "vacuums" that suck the blackhead out. Either of these methods might work but you should exfoliate beforehand to remove any possible impediments.
Fix the Problem from the Inside
Blackheads are a type of acne, which means that they result from bacterial infection. But this bacterial infection is allowed to take hold because of excess oil in the skin. The causes are varied including eating greasy foods--which increases the oils in the skin--or overuse of oily makeup. Or, it may just be a hormonal, chemical imbalance issue in which case a doctor can prescribe medication.
If you can figure out the cause of the blackheads, it will be easier to take preventive or remedial measures so that you don't need to remove large blackheads in the future.