A blackhead is an open comedone in medical terms. It is an enlarged pore that is clogged with oil due to an acne or acne-like condition. In acne, the cells that line your pores are “sticky” and hold on to oil. As the pore fills up, the opening expands, allowing oxygen in the air to come into contact with the trapped oil. This causes oxidation which turns the oil black at the surface. To prevent blackheads, use topical medications such as Retin-a, Tazarotene, or Differin to loosen the “stickiness” and allow oil to flow out of your pores. Over the counter retinol is also helpful.
Many people get ‘blackheads’ even though they do not have acne. Instead, their pores have widened over time, exposing a normal amount of oil to oxygen. This is incredibly common. For these people, ‘blackheads’ usually appear on their nose. Regularly using glycolic or salicylic acid pads can remove the oxidized oil and black color.
Dr. Janet Hill Prystowsky is a board-certified dermatologist with over 25 years of experience in dermatology and dermatologic surgery. She obtained a Ph.D from Columbia University in Human Nutrition, an M.D. from the University of Chicago, and completed her training in dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. In combination with her focus on early skin cancer detection and removal, Dr. Prystowsky provides a wide range of revitalizing and rejuvenating treatments at her New York City office. She utilizes the latest technical advancements, including laser and light source devices, to help her patients obtain healthy and beautiful skin. In addition to her private practice, Dr. Prystowsky is a senior attending physician at Mount Sinai Roosevelt/St. Luke’s Medical Center. In 2008 she started her own skin care line as president of LIVAD Skin Care, LLC.