When you have blackheads, these large pores become clogged with a substance known as sebum. A chemical reaction with the sebum occurs under your skin. Melanin is oxidized and turns the clogged pores a black color.
Comedones, more commonly known as blackheads, are small, dark spots on your skin caused by a clogged pore. Contrary to common belief, the black or dark color they have isn't from dirt — it is an oxidation of the dead skin cells that cause the clog. The oxidized skin cells then appear dark in color.
Blackheads and whiteheads are both clogged with the same thing: Dead skin cells (which your skin is always shedding), Propionibacterium acnes (a bacteria that lives on your skin), and sebum (an oily substance secreted by tiny glands inside your pores).
The bottom line. Removing a blackhead once in a while is safe for most people, but it's important not to make a habit out of removing them yourself. If you have recurring blackheads, make an appointment with a dermatologist who can help you address them with more permanent treatment options.
But when the top remains open, a blackhead forms. A lot of people think that blackheads are dark because that's the color of the dirt in the pore. The truth is, blackheads are black or dark gray because the oil and dead skin that clog the pore “ oxidize ” (turn black) when they come into contact with air.
Blackheads look like black dots that have formed on your skin. Blackheads are called open comedones. Comedones are the skin-colored bumps that form when you have a pimple. In the case of blackheads, these comedones consist of follicles beneath your skin with very large openings, or pores.
To begin, place a warm, damp cloth over the blackhead for several minutes to help open the pore and make the plug easier to remove. Then, place the extractor loop around the blackhead. Add pressure until the buildup is released – but never try to force the contents as this can damage the skin.
Removing blackheads may leave the pores open but you can make them appear smaller eventually by following CTM (Cleanser, Toner & Moisturization) routine to tighten the pores. Toner helps prevent breakouts and keep pores from getting clogged, thereby making them appear smaller.
“Gently press on each side of the blackhead until it begins to release,” she says. “Apply slow and even pressure, and once you are able, lightly pinch the tweezers and pull the blacked out material from the skin to extract it. If the blackhead does not release easily, do not continue to attempt the extraction.”
While cellophane tape could possibly remove surface dead skin cells, it's unclear how effective this method is in removing clogged gunk in your pores. Don't use masking, duct, industrial, or any other type of tape that could be harmful to your skin.
The stuff you squeeze out of them is pus, which contains dead white blood cells.
Prolonged exposure to the air causes the blockage to oxidize and darken. Because the pore gets stretched out of shape, it will fill back up again even after it is emptied. These stubborn pores are most likely to occur on the face, chest and back.
If it becomes infected, you might also notice: redness. swelling. white- or yellow-colored pus.
The Skin-Compromising Consequences
“Squeezing, picking, pulling, prodding—all of that can stretch the elastic around the pores, which makes them wider and larger, and they won't bounce back into shape. Ultimately, your pores will look larger and become increasingly more visible.
A sebum plug is an infrequently used term for acne. These plugs occur when sebum (oil) from your sebaceous glands become trapped in your hair follicles. Dead skin cells and then inflammation creates acne lesions. Sebum plugs may come in the form of inflammatory acne, such as pustules and papules.
Pimple pus is made from sebum (oil) that gets trapped in your pores, along with a combination of dead skin cells, debris (such as makeup), and bacteria. When you have inflammatory acne lesions (such as pustules, papules, nodules, and cysts), your immune system activates in this area, resulting in noticeable pus.
Close the holes temporarily with cold water.
Cold water makes your pores contract, which makes them look smaller. Try splashing some cold water on your face or holding a cold washcloth against the blackhead holes. This won't shrink them permanently, but it works as a good temporary fix.
While blackheads can be professionally extracted, you should never have whiteheads removed. Extracting these comedones can cause impurities to spread which can actually cause more whiteheads or blackheads to form. Similar to popping blemishes, extracting or picking at whiteheads can also leave a mark or dark spot.
A blackhead hole will never go away on its own as the dirt buildup stretches and enlarges it. What you can do is clean it with salicylic acid, reduce inflammation using retinoids, and heal the skin and tighten it with a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
Blackheads can be fairly resilient and hard to remove. You might squeeze and prod without being able to get the blackheads out. This will cause skin irritation and potentially get more bacteria inside the blemish leading to cysts or nodules.
In some cases, picking at your skin can release dopamine, the feel-good hormone. When people watch extraction videos of other people's skin, it brings a cathartic rush of satisfaction.
'Petroleum jelly dilutes the dried up oxidized oil, creating a hard-topped plug of oil in the pore which is then easier to squeeze out and clear. '
As acne occurs due to an overproduction of sebum, deep blackheads often appear in areas that have a higher concentration of sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are small glands in the skin that are responsible for the production of sebum.
This type of acne develops when oil (sebum) and dead skin cells combine to form a plug that clogs your pores. Sometimes, cleansing and exfoliating may be enough to loosen the plug and draw it out. But if the plug hardens, or it's too deep to access, you might not be able to remove the blackhead on your own.