We hear the word blackheads a lot when it comes to skin care. But what exactly are they and how can we get rid of them?
To answers all our questions, "Good Morning America" turned to dermatologist and ABC News contributor Dr. Mark Abdelmalek.
What is a blackhead?
"A blackhead is a clogged hair follicle or pore. The medical term for a blackhead is an 'open comedone.' Blackheads are an early step on the journey to a full blown acne spot. Blackheads look like small, dark, clogged pores on the skin," Abdelmalek said.
How do you prevent blackheads?
"The best way to treat blackheads is to prevent blackheads from forming in the first place," Abdelmalek said. "The most common way to do this is by using a topical medication called a retinoid. Retinoids work by preventing pores and follicles from becoming clogged."
Can you "remove" a blackhead?
"Blackheads can be physically extracted from the skin with just the right amount of pressure around the follicle. When you hit it just right, the plug of keratin is pushed out of the skin. And as we all know, this can be a very gratifying exercise. But squeezing blackheads and pimples can sometimes backfire. Sometimes you think you are pushing the contents of the pore out, when in reality you have just pushed them further and deeper into the skin which can cause more inflammation and even scarring," Abdelmalek said.
What type of tools are safe to use at home?
"The most common type of tool dermatologists use to remove blackheads is called a comedone extractor. These tools are metal and are designed to put downward pressure on the sides of the clogged pore so that the contents are pushed up and out of the skin. While it may be easy to get your hands on these tools, the ones your dermatologist will use are sterile and therefore safer," Abdelmalek said.
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