As if acne wasnt bad enough, there are varying levels of blemishes to contend with, including whiteheads, blackheads, and pustules. Blackheads are facial blemishes known to taint the skin of victims of all ages, who often pick at or scratch the tiny, blackened spots that decorate the skin. People commonly mistake blackheads for dirt-clogged pores, which are actually oil secretions that have undergone the process of oxidation, which is responsible for the darkened appearance.
What are Blackheads?
An “open comedo” is the medical term given to blackheads, which appear as a yellowish or blackish bump (or plug) on the surface of the skin . Blackheads are caused when excess oils gather about the sebaceous gland’s duct and excess bacteria are allowed to thrive. The blemishes are created when hair follicle openings become clogged and blocked with oil and dead skin cells.
If the oil makes contact with the surface of the skin and breaks through the surrounding air causes the process of oxidation turning whiteheads into blackheads. Often, people are unaware of the difference between whiteheads (closed comedos) and blackheads. Simply put, whiteheads do not make contact with air and are positioned right at the surface of the skin, causing inflammation.
A common misconception is that blackheads contain dirt and just need a good washing. Actually, the oxidized oil may stay on the surface of the skin for quite a long time because its contents take awhile to disappear. Sometimes, a blackhead will release its contents to the surface and undergo the process of healing . Other times, the follicle wall ruptures and inflamed acne develops. This occurrence may take place when you least expect it or come as a response to touching the skin or picking at blackheads.
Causes of Blackheads
In order to treat or remedy a blackhead invasion, it is suggested to familiarize oneself with some of the common causes of the condition. There are many different factors that affect the excess production of oil in the sebaceous glands and other elements that create blackheads. Some of the most common causes include:
a) Genetics: Some people simply inherit a predisposition regarding acne problems from one or more of their parents.
b) Hormones: Increased sexual hormones of males during puberty or the ups and downs women experience when pregnant or facing their menstruation causes blackheads to form.
c) Oil-Based Cosmetics: Makeup that contains a high level of oil will block the pores leading to blackhead formation.
d) Prescribed Medications: Some prescription medications can block pores, making it easier for blackheads to form. A few products known to produce these results include those that contain lithium or steroids.
e) Stress: Increased levels of stress can increase the production of oil in the skin, causing pores to become clogged.
f) Weather Conditions: When living in a city where the levels of humidity are quite high you will find the production of oil in the skin may increase. Hot weather also causes more sweating, to take place which is known to block and clog pores.
Although everyone will experience a blackhead or two, there are certain people that run the risk of multiple inflammations and outbreaks. Some risk factors can be helped, while others are more set in stone. To lessen the threat of suffering blackheads, consider the following factors that contribute to their formation:
a) Oily Hair Products: Pores becomes clogged when using greasy hair care products on a regular basis. When hair saturated in oily ingredients touches the face, the excessive buildup of oil begins. Often, it is the forehead and cheeks most affected by these kinds of products.
b) Moisturizers: Certain facial products can cause a disruption in the pores on the face. If you excessively use moisturizer, foundations, and/or sunscreens clogged and blocked pores lead to blackheads.
c) Poor Hygiene Habits: Inappropriate cleansing of the face leads to the accumulation of dead skin cells, which takes place in the pores. As the cells continue to clog the pore opening, oil is allowed to build up, triggering the formation of blackheads.
d) Gender: When it comes to the most severe and longer-lasting bouts of acne, men are more likely than women to undergo this skin disaster. As for irregular acne outbreaks, women tend to suffer these kinds of outbreaks, as monthly menstrual cycles and pregnancy increases their chances.
e) Age: While acne strikes all ages, about 85% of blackhead sufferers will face their acne between the ages of 12 and 24.
f) High Levels of Stress: Sometimes, high levels of stress can cause a person to concentrate less on their appearance and personal hygiene, which can lead to an excess of oil affecting the skin.
g) Tight Clothing: If you wear tight clothing, you may create a physical irritation that causes the formation of blackheads.
Natural Cures for Blackheads
The number of acne treatments on the market is rather staggering, which typically rely on chemicals and other harsh ingredients that can cause skin irritation and discomfort. Before settling on an Oxy cream or a Clearasil facial wash, consider some of the natural cures listed below for blackheads:
a) Fenugreek Leaves: Create a paste using fresh fenugreek leaves (also known as methi) that is known to prevent and treat blackheads, pimples, and other types of acne. The paste should be left on the face every night for 10 to 15 minutes and washed away using warm water.
b) Lemons: Take one lemon to extract enough juice, which is then mixed with an equal amount of rose water. The concoction is then applied to the face for ½ hour and followed with a thorough washing with fresh water. In 15 days of following this regimen, you should have enjoyed the results of a natural cure for blackheads and other types of acne. This cure is also known to reduce the appearance of scars left behind from picking at your blemishes. Some people have also mixed one teaspoon of lemon juice with one teaspoon of finely ground cinnamon powder and applied to blackheads.
c) Dried Basil Leaves: Place two to three teaspoons of dried basil leaves in one cup of boiling water. Allow the herb to steep for 10 to 20 minutes. When the mixture has cooled, apply to blackheads using a cotton ball.
d) Orange Peel: Grind orange peel and mix with water to create a paste that works wonders on blackheads.
e) Rose Water: After cleaning your face, take cotton wool dipped in rose water and apply to the face two to three times per day.
f) Mint Juice: Mixing mint juice with turmeric powder is known to treat blackheads when left on the skin for 15 to 30 minutes. This natural cure is then washed off using lukewarm water.
g) Pomegranate: Combining fresh lime juice with pomegranate skin (roasted and powdered) will create a paste that treats acne, whiteheads, blackheads, and boils.
h) Grated Potatoes: A poultice made with grated potatoes naturally destroys the sight of many different skin blemishes, including whiteheads and blackheads.
i) Radish: Some people swear by a paste consisting of ground radish seeds and water that they consider a pretty decent cure for getting rid of blackheads.
j) Garlic: Garlic bulbs possess antifungal and antibacterial properties, which work as a good antiseptic against infected skin conditions caused by picking at blackheads . Cut open a garlic clove and rub on an affected area. You may also add garlic to cooking for results. Sometimes the addition of parsley will help to counteract the smell.
k) Lavender and Yarrow Facial : After using steam to open up the pores, a facial made of lavender and yarrow helps ease the sight of blackheads. It is the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory powers of the herbs that fight the signs of acne. The ingredients of this lotion include 5 drops of tea tree oil; 25 milliliters of rosewater, 25 milliliters of distilled witch hazel, 10 grams of dried lavender flowers, 10 grams of dried yarrow flowers, 10 grams of dried elderflowers, and water.
To create the components for the facial, start by combining the tea tree oil, rosewater, and witch hazel to create an astringent lotion. Next, mix the lavender, yarrow, and elderflowers in a basin. Finally, pour boiling water over the ingredients. Applying the natural cure involves draping a towel over the head and basin to steam the face for five to ten minutes, followed by cleansing the face with the lotion. This remedy should be repeated on a daily basis.
 Natural Health Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs by Penelope Ody (pg. 178)
 Home Herbal by Penelope Ody (pg. 98)