- Deep blackheads are blackheads embedded far into the pores.
- Ideally, they should be removed professionally to avoid scarring and infection.
- Blackhead extractor tools are often used to clear deeply clogged pores.
- Prevent blackheads from forming by adopting a good skin care regime.
Blackheads are a common skin complaint that most people will experience within their lifetime. If not treated promptly, they can continue building up deep within the pores. These are commonly referred to as deep blackheads or deep comedones.
Why Are Deep Blackheads Different?
Deep blackheads are hardened plugs consisting of skin debris and oil that block the pores. These hardened plugs cannot be dislodged from the skin using regular cleansing products. Over time, this causes buildup to accumulate even deeper within the pores.
Deep blackheads are tough to remove, especially without professional extraction.
Cleansers and exfoliants cannot remove buildup located deep within pores and require extraction via specialized tools and professional treatments. The deeper the blackhead, the more likely scarring will occur upon removal. With this in mind, professional extraction is advised.
Deep blackheads can last years
Deep blackheads are a result of buildup that has formed over weeks, months or even years. And when a pore becomes clogged, oil continues to build up deeper within the pore. If blackheads are not extracted early, they can remain within the skin indefinitely.
How Do Deep Blackheads Form?
The body produces sebum, a natural oil to keep the skin protected and lubricated. Blackheads form when sebum and skin debris combine and create a plug that blocks the pore.
Deep blackheads appear on the skin as dark, raised bumps. They can vary in size, depending on the amount of buildup clogging the pores. The dark colour of blackheads is from the buildup at the surface of the skin being exposed to the air, known as oxidation.
Those with increased production of sebum have naturally oilier skin and are typically more likely to experience blackheads. Also, an increase in blackheads can be a result of age, hormonal changes or the use of certain medications.
The size of pores can vary between individuals, therefore deep blackheads may be more noticeable on those with naturally large pores. However, they can occur regardless of pore size.
Body areas prone to deep blackheads
Other than your palms and the soles of your feet, blackheads can occur anywhere on the skin where there is a hair follicle (pore). However, there are particular areas prone to developing deep blackheads.
On the face
Blackheads occur most often on the face, due to the density of pores within this area. The use of oil-based cosmetics and skin care products on the face can clog pores, leading to buildup.
On the back
It can be the hard-to-reach areas to wash, such as the back, that create a favourable environment for blackheads to form. Similarly, clogged pores within this area can often go unnoticed, which can eventually lead to deep blackheads.
Sweating and friction caused by tight clothing have also been known to cause blackheads on the back.
The neck is another area susceptible to blackheads, due to the amount of pores in this area. Cleansing your neck as part of your daily skin care routine can be helpful in preventing blackheads from forming.
Chest and shoulders
Blackheads can often be found on the chest and shoulders. Much like the back, blackheads found within this area can be a result of friction caused by clothing. Medications such as corticosteroids and testosterone treatments have been identified as triggers for acne and deep blackheads, especially on the chest and shoulders.
How to Get Rid of Deep Blackheads
Once a blackhead has become deeply embedded within a pore, it cannot be removed using general skin care products such as cleansers and exfoliants. Similarly, pore strips and peel-off masks are typically ineffective as they cannot penetrate deep enough into the skin to fully remove the buildup.
When a blackhead becomes deeply embedded within the skin, the most efficient method of removal is extraction through the use of specialized removal tools or professional treatments such as chemical peels and microneedling.
Professional extraction of deep blackheads
Blackheads can be professionally extracted by dermatologists, who often use comedone extractors. This handheld tool has a metal loop that is placed onto the skin surrounding the blackhead. When pressure is applied, the buildup is released from the pore.
Other professional options
In addition to professional extraction, there are a number of in-office treatments that can remove blackheads including chemical peels, microdermabrasion and microneedling.
During a chemical peel, exfoliating liquids are brushed over the face. These ingredients can vary depending on the intensity of the peel, however alpha-hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid are commonly used as an effective treatment for blackheads. Salicylic acid removes the top layer of skin cells, promoting the regeneration of collagen and fresh skin cells.
Microdermabrasion involves the use of a handheld dermabrasion device that exfoliates by spraying a fine jet of micro-sized crystals over the problem area. These small crystals buff the skin, removing dead skin cells and relieving pores of buildup.
Microdermabrasion can be used on the face, neck, back and shoulders to effectively reduce the appearance of enlarged pores while removing skin debris.
Light therapy controls the skin’s sebum production while offering antibacterial benefits. The treatment works by using infrared light to penetrate the skin and stimulate cells, which encourage the reproduction of new cells.
LED light therapy offers safe and effective results in reducing sebum production.
Deep blackheads under skin
Clogged pores covered by a layer of skin are known as whiteheads, rather than blackheads.
As whiteheads are not exposed to the air, they do not have the same darkened appearance. Like blackheads, if not treated, they can continue to embed deeper within the pore.
Whiteheads require the skin to be broken in order to remove the buildup, therefore it is recommended to seek professional treatment in order to minimize the risk of infection occurring.
At-Home Removal Techniques for Deep Blackheads
Sometimes, deep blackheads can be successfully removed at home if the correct methods and tools are used. Deep blackhead extraction should be performed with care, and buildup should never be forcibly removed.
Use a comedone extractor
In addition to being used by professionals, comedone extractor tools can also be purchased in stores for personal use.
Before using the extractor, it is important to sterilize the tool with rubbing alcohol to prevent infection.
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.
Use a vacuum pore cleansing device
An alternate tool is a vacuum cleansing device. This handheld tool creates suction on the skin, loosening and drawing out buildup from the pores. The strength of the suction can be adjusted, making them a useful tool for both smaller blackheads and those located deep within the skin.
What if the blackhead won’t come out?
Some blackheads can be stubborn to remove. The deeper the buildup is within the pore, the more difficult it will be to remove it safely using at-home treatments.
If you cannot remove a deep blackhead easily, it is best to visit a dermatologist to ensure it is extracted without causing unnecessary skin damage and scarring in the affected area.
How to Prevent Deep Blackheads from Forming
Cleanse skin regularly to remove oils and skin debris that otherwise have the potential to clog pores. Similarly, avoid products containing pore-blocking ingredients to help keep your skin clear.
Adopt a good skin care routine
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser twice a day to help prevent the buildup of oils and skin debris that lead to the formation of blackheads.
Exfoliant products can also be beneficial in preventing blackheads, however these should be used less frequently than your daily cleanser. If you have particularly sensitive skin, exfoliating should be limited to about once a week to avoid irritation.
Those with naturally oily skin can benefit from cleansing products containing ingredients such as green tea extract which has been shown to reduce sebum production. Similarly, tea tree oil has been demonstrated to be an effective anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredient.
Avoid comedogenic products
Comedogenic is a term for ingredients that have a tendency to clog pores. Those with an oily skin type should avoid comedogenic ingredients that are often found within moisturizing skin care products, including coconut butter and lanolin.
Wear breathable clothing
Tight clothing can lead to friction and sweating and has been linked to blackhead breakouts. Wear loose-fitting clothing in warm temperatures and during exercise to help prevent blackheads from forming on the neck, chest and shoulders.
Exfoliate your skin
Exfoliating the back, shoulders and chest can prevent blackheads from forming. Exfoliants for the body are usually found in the form of scrubs, containing small pieces of fruit shells that buff away dead skin cells.
Those who suffer from long-term and severe blackheads may be prescribed isotretinoin. This medication can be taken orally or applied topically, and works by reducing the production of sebum within the skin.
There are a variety of effective treatments that can remove deep blackheads. At-home methods of removal include the use of comedone extractors and vacuum devices, however professional treatments may be required for more stubborn blackheads.
Professional treatments such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels can offer effective results in clearing the skin from blackheads.
Prevention is the best method when tackling blackheads. Daily cleansing of the face and frequent exfoliation can reduce oil buildup. Wear loose fitting clothing to help reduce friction and irritation that can lead to blackheads on the back, chest and shoulders.
- Kwon, H., Lee, J., Yoon, J., Park, S., Ryu, H., & Park, B. et al. (2013). The clinical and histological effect of home-use, combination blue-red LED phototherapy for mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris in Korean patients: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. British Journal Of Dermatology, 168(5), 1088-1094. doi: 10.1111/bjd.12186
- Mahmood, T., Akhtar, N., Ali Khan, B., Khan, H., & Saeed, T. (2010). Outcomes of 3% Green Tea Emulsion on Skin Sebum Production in Male Volunteers. Bosnian Journal Of Basic Medical Sciences, 10(3), 260-264. doi: 10.17305/bjbms.2010.2697
- Papazian, N., & Saba, S. (2016). Microdermabrasion. Operative Dictations In Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery, 55-57. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-40631-2_13
- Zaidi, Z., & Lanigan, S. (2010). Diseases of the Sebaceous, Sweat, and Apocrine Glands. Dermatology In Clinical Practice, 337-357. doi: 10.1007/978-1-84882-862-9_19
- Schiavo, Christopher P.; Stanford, Carol W. (2015) Acne and Drug Reactions. link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4471-6729-7_15
- Kim, S. J., Baek, J. H., Koh, J. S., Bae, M. I., Lee, S. J. and Shin, M. K. (2015), The effect of physically applied alpha hydroxyl acids on the skin pore and comedone. Int J Cosmet Sci, 37: 519-525. doi:10.1111/ics.12244
- Erosh Yadav, Sunil Kumar, Sheefali Mahant, Sarita Khatkar & Rekha Rao (2017) Tea tree oil: a promising essential oil, Journal of Essential Oil Research, 29:3, 201-213, DOI: 10.1080/10412905.2016.1232665