Blackheads – they look just as unattractive as the name sounds. They can appear suddenly overnight without warning and once they do make an appearance, they don’t ever seem to want to disappear. Blackheads are not painful, however their appearance is a clear indication that the pores of your skin desperately need to be cared for. When blackheads are left untreated, they can spread quite rapidly. The most common places for them to appear are on the chin, around the nose and on the nose.
TYPE OF BREAKOUT – PIMPLE, BLACKHEAD, WHITEHEAD OR SOMETHING ELSE?
Any breakout on your face is unwanted. Whether your skin erupts in some kind of bump or is dotted with blackheads, the objective is to get rid of them, and fast! The key to doing this is to figure out exactly what you’re dealing with, because different breakouts require different treatments. Once you know, you can start using the best over-the-counter and/or prescription options to improve your skin.
WHAT’S BEHIND COMMON TYPES OF BREAKOUTS
Each and every pore on your skin has its own pathway that allows oil (sebum) from your oil glands to flow to the surface of your skin. When oil is being produced at a normal rate, it keeps your skin protected, smooth, and hydrated. But, when hormones cause too much oil to be produced, things can go wrong. For some people, the excess oil gets backed up and stuck inside the pore. To make matters worse, dead skin cells on the surface cause even more blockage. From there, depending on what else happens inside the pore, you can develop a pimple, whitehead (milia), blackhead, cyst, papule, or pustule.
- Blackheads form when oil and dead skin cells trapped in the pore lining make their way to the pore opening.
- When this oil plug makes it to the skin’s surface and is exposed to air, it oxidizes, creating black dots, most commonly seen on the nose, chin, or center of the forehead.
- Blackheads are not related to dirt or general hygiene!
- Blackheads are not caused by bacteria, so they don’t respond to topical disinfectants. such as benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, or topical antibiotics.
- Treating blackheads involves ongoing use of a well-formulated BHA product to improve the shape of the pore and to exfoliate built-up layers of dead skin cells.
- Stubborn blackheads that don’t respond well to over-the-counter BHA products may benefit from a series of BHA peels from a dermatologist.
- Scrubs and pore strips are of little use because the problem is not just on the surface.
- Prescription-only medications such as Retin-A, Renova, or skin-care products with retinol can help improve cell function so the pore can function more normally.
WHITEHEADS (ALSO CALLED MILIA)
- Whiteheads are small, hard, white bumps that look similar to pimples but without the redness or swelling, and the contents can’t be squeezed out.
- Whiteheads occur most often on the forehead, cheeks, and in the undereye area, but can occur anywhere.
- Mila are collections of oil underneath the skin and they cannot usually be removed superficially because there is a dermis – a top layer of skin – that has grown over top of it. They are caused by using products such as creams and lotions that are too rich for your skin. Milia can be prevented by using gel-based skin care products. Products containing mild acids can help to get rid of milia, but these can take a very long time.
- In many instances, whiteheads need to be physically removed by an aesthetician or physician. It can be removed by a small needle. And the nice thing about this method is that it doesn’t leave behind a scar.
- There are a variety of ways to treat milia without consulting a dermatologist. It is worthwhile committing to an exfoliation routine for some time, to see if the condition can be improved before seeking professional help. However, piercing the milia at home is not recommended.
REGULAR PIMPLES (PAPULES)
- This is the mildest type of acne lesion. Papules are pink to slightly red bumps with a soft white surface filled with fluid and oil. They can be sore to the touch.
- Papules occur when a clogged pore ruptures, bacterial growth causes inflammation, and white fluid pushes to the surface.
- This is the easiest form of acne to manage. Research has shown that over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are the absolute best way to treat these kinds of Large Pimples (Pustules)
- When pimples become large, engorged, and swollen, a papule has become a pustule.
- Most teens dealing with acne have a combination of papules and pustules.
- Managing this type of breakout almost always requires a combination of over-the-counter and prescription-only products.
DEEP, PAINFUL PIMPLES (CYSTS AND NODULES)
- Cysts and nodules are the largest, most painful, and most difficult type of acne to treat.
- A cyst does not always look like a pimple; it can be just a large red swollen lump.
- Cysts reach deep into the sebaceous gland (the gland responsible for producing oil) and the deeper layers of the skin. If left untreated, they almost always lead to scarring.
- Scarring occurs because the cyst is so large and deep it damages the skin’s surrounding support structure.
- For cysts and nodules, it is critical for you to see a dermatologist because there are no over-the-counter products that can treat this type of acne.