Although blackheads can be unsightly, they don’t pose any health risk. Many people mistakenly believe they are a sign of a dirty skin, but this simply isn't true.
“Blackheads are just an oxidised mix of oil and dead skin cells that are sitting in pores – the exposure to air is what causes them to oxidise and turn black. It's not a sign that you're dirty, so don't cause more damage by being rough with your skin and scrubbing really hard,” Dr Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City told Allure.
While blackheads don't pose any health risks, they can negatively affect your self-confidence. Fortunately it is possible to treat blackheads at home with over-the-counter products that contain benzoyl peroxide, retinoids or salicylic acid.
In extreme cases, however, you may need to take prescription antibiotics or visit your doctor who will do an extraction.
The extraction procedure is fairly simple and non invasive. Your doctor uses a comedone extractor to remove the build-up trapped under your skin.
WARNING: Graphic extractions ahead
Sometimes blackheads can become so large they need to be extracted by a doctor. And sometimes the doctor films these extractions.
Meet Dr Sandra Lee, aka Dr Pimple Popper, a dermatologist, skin cancer and cosmetic surgeon, who has more than 3 million subscribers on YouTube.
Here are three of her more graphic blackhead extractions caught on film.
This woman had a number of large blackheads on her back that needed to be extracted.
According to Dr Lee, this patient has great skin in general but also has multiple seborrheic keratoses (benign growths) on her back, and she a large blackhead.
This patient had a large blackhead, which is also called a Dilated Pore of Winer.
What not to do
If you have blackheads, avoid popping, squeezing or touching them as this can cause inflammation and further infection.
As tempting as it might be, don’t wash your face more than twice a day – all you'll do is irritate and dry out your skin.
Avoid using hot water as this can worsen acne. If you wear makeup, make sure it’s non-greasy.
If your acne (or blackheads) bother you, it's best to see your doctor who can offer you advice on how to treat them.
Image credit: iStock