It's safe to say we can all agree blackheads are pretty much the bane of our existence. You know, those relentless black bumps on our faces, backs, chests and arms that are so enticing to pinch under that unforgiving bathroom light.
Treating and preventing blackheads is certainly no easy feat, but it's not impossible. And knowing what causes blackheads in the first place is the first step toward better managing the problem.
It all begins when your skin's thousands of tiny sebaceous glands kick into overdrive and start spewing out more oil (or sebum), causing you to have an oilier complexion. This is typically triggered by hormonal activity, such as when a person reaches puberty.
A blackhead -- also known as an "open comedo" -- occurs when a hair follicle (or pore) gets clogged with oil, skin debris and bacteria. If the buildup continues and is exposed to air, oxidization occurs giving blackheads their signature dark appearance.
It's important to note the difference between blackheads and sebaceous filaments. You've probably noticed these tiny dark dots on oilier regions of your face, such as the nose. They are smaller and smoother than blackheads, and lighter in appearance. When pinched, they burst out as a white waxy string. Sebaceous filaments are made up of oil and dead skin cells surrounding a hair follicle, and occur naturally on everyone's face. They are not the result of an infection, and sadly they're not going anywhere -- they refill within 30 days of being extracted.
Now to help you start banishing those blackheads, we've listed some of the dos and don'ts of blackhead treatment and prevention in the slideshow below.