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29 January 2009

All about blackheads and whiteheads

Pimples and blackheads occur, because your skin has countless numbers of sebaceous glands that secrete sebum, the oil that keeps your skin supple, waterproof and healthy.

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Your skin is your body’s largest organ and at any one time there’s a lot going on. At a microscopic level it has bacteria - mostly benign, but you probably wouldn’t want to hear about over breakfast. It’s like there's a tiny city living on the surface of your body, which is quite cool when you think about it. But even the most trouble-free metropolis will have the occasional mugging, theft of car radios, road rage and, say, outbreak of line-dancing. Think of pimples in that context.

They occur because your skin has countless numbers of sebaceous glands that secrete sebum, the oil that keeps your skin supple, waterproof and healthy. When one of these pores gets blocked, usually with some dead skin cells mixed with sebum, bacteria breed in the blocked pore, resulting in a lump and pus. The body’s reaction to this invasion is redness of the skin as it fights the infection.

If the plug blocking the gland contains dead skin cells it’ll probably look dark. This is from the pigment in the skin, not dirt. It’s called a blackhead. If you live or work in a polluted or dusty environment, you might find this has an effect on your skin. Suntan lotion that’s not washed off properly can also block pores.

The treatment for all this is a mild exfoliant every few days. Don’t wash your skin with astringent soaps, because stripping your skin of all its oils will simply cause it to increase the rate at which it secretes oil.

Lastly, be a man. Get yourself a facial once in a while. Exfoliating, cleansing and toning face packs are great for scaring small children and they’re good for you face.

(William Smook, Health24, updated January 2009)
 
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