Blackheads are a common skin condition primarily affecting the face, neck, back, and chest. They can be caused by an excessive amount of oil and irritation of the hair follicles on the skin, and more. Blackheads commonly affect adolescents, though they can occur at any age. Find relief from your acne with specialized skin care treatments from our Gainesville dermatologists with Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery. We are committed to helping you achieve healthy and beautiful skin throughout each life stage.
Contact our office today to schedule a dermatologist appointment and to learn more about our available treatments for different skin conditions.
What Are Blackheads?
A blackhead is a type of acne, featuring open bumps or raised lesions on the skin filled with excess oil, dead skin cells, and other debris. These bumps are called “blackheads,” as their surface appears dark or black, but blackheads are not pimples. These acne lesions are extremely common, affecting nearly everyone at some point in their lives.
What Causes Blackheads?
Blackheads form when a plug develops in the opening of hair follicles. Each hair follicle on the skin contains a sebaceous gland that produces oil, or sebum, which replenishes the skin’s moisture level and helps it maintain softness. Dead skin cells and oils combine and collect within the opening of the skin follicle, producing a skin bump known as a comedo. If the skin over the bump stays open, exposure of the contents to oxygen makes it appear dark, forming a blackhead. There are factors that may increase your chances of developing acne and blackheads, including the following.
- An overproduction of sebum
- The buildup of bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) on the skin
- Irritation of the hair follicles when dead skin cells fail to shed regularly
- Hormonal changes that cause an increase in oil production
- Taking certain medications, such as lithium, corticosteroids, androgens, or birth control pills
Blackheads Vs. Whiteheads
Whiteheads are a type of acne similar to comedones and just as frustrating to deal with. A whitehead features a little skin covering on top of the hair follicle on the skin. This layer of skin protects the follicle and prevents it from oxidizing, resulting in the appearance of a white, pink, or flesh-colored tip. For more information about the difference between whiteheads and blackheads, as well as information about other types of acne, including papular acne, pustular acne, milia, and inflammatory acne, contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery.
Who Gets Blackheads?
Virtually anyone can develop acne and blackheads. However, blackheads primarily affect teenagers and young adults undergoing hormonal changes. Yet, many adults continue to experience acne. Some individuals even develop blackheads for the first time in adulthood. Blackheads are extremely common, and nearly everyone will experience one or more of these acne lesions at some point in their lifetime.
Where Do Blackheads Appear?
People are most likely to develop blackheads on their faces, particularly on their nose, chin, and cheeks, and their neck, back, and chest. Yet, sebaceous (oil) glands are all over the body, releasing sebum, an oily lubricant that keeps the skin and hair hydrated and shiny. Because skin contains sebaceous glands virtually everywhere on the body, blackheads may appear anywhere on the skin, including the buttocks, thighs, ears, and armpits.
Symptoms Of Blackheads
The primary symptom of blackheads is the small, dark-colored lesion giving these acne bumps their characteristic name. Blackheads are a symptom of acne, but since they are caused by open pores, they are distinguished from other acne lesions. Blackheads are a non-inflammatory form of acne, meaning they are not infected, and they will not typically cause pain and discomfort in the same way as pimples and pustules. Pimples form when bacteria invade the blockage in the hair follicle, which causes redness, inflammation, and pain. Additionally, blackheads feature a raised texture, though they are flatter than pimples.
Sebaceous filaments tend to look like blackheads, but they are not the same. Sebaceous filaments can appear on the nose, among other areas, and they tend to be smaller in size than blackheads. Additionally, sebaceous filaments appear in groups and feel flat to the tough. These are glands that channel the flow of sebum through the pores. Unlike blackheads, sebaceous filaments and not a type or form of acne.