- Blackheads are commonly found on the nose due to the high amount of sebum produced in this area.
- Improperly popping blackheads can lead to the spread of bacteria and infected debris to surrounding pores.
- Extraction tools and over-the-counter treatments can help safely remove blackheads, and minimize the risk of further breakouts.
- A preventative regime of cleansing and exfoliation designed to keep pores clean is the best option to limit blackheads on the nose.
Blackheads, or comedones occur when dead skin and sebum—a naturally occurring oil—combine and block hair follicles. If skin grows over the blockage, a whitehead forms; if it remains exposed to air the open comedone will darken and become a blackhead.
Open comedones are more likely to occur on the nose than the rest of the face because pores in this area are much larger than average, making them more susceptible to clogging. Oil producing sebaceous glands in these pores are also large and therefore produce more oil.
Reasons to Avoid Popping Blackheads
While popping blackheads may seem like an immediate solution, doing so increases the risk of both short and long-term negative effects.
. When done incorrectly, or when clogging is severe, popping can:
- Spread acne to the surrounding area
- Push bacteria into skin causing damage to deeper layers of skin
- Cause irritation that leads to localized redness
In some cases, poorly popped blackheads can also seriously damage skin leading to scarring.
Blackhead removal scars
When manually extracting a blackhead there is a risk that a pore can rupture. When that happens, sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria can burrow beneath the outer layer of skin, deeper into the dermis. The resulting inflammatory response can reduce collagen production and create a scar.
How to Safely Remove Blackheads
Dermatologists tend to advise against simply popping blackheads due to the risks associated with the practice. However, there are a number of options to eliminate blackheads safely and quickly at home through several methods.
At-home extraction can be performed using an extraction tool which successfully removes the blackhead, through the application of pressure. Using a tool instead of the fingers also reduces the chances of skin redness, infection and scarring.
Comedone extractors are rod-shaped tools with loops attached at both ends. Each loop contain sharp lancets designed to pull out the core of a blackhead without damaging the skin.
Prior to extraction, use a mild cleanser and then steam the area. This can help open pores and soften hardened oils, helping to ease the extraction process. To keep skin moist, apply a moisturizer to blackheads and the surrounding area.
Comedones can also be extracted professionally and may be a good choice for more difficult to remove cases or when there are an extensive number of blackheads. Professional treatment also reduces the risk of irritation, infections or scarring as dermatologists typically use sterile equipment and specialized techniques.
Oral and topical treatments
Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) topical products are also effective treatments available to remove and prevent the formation of blackheads.
Chemical exfoliants, such as those containing beta hydroxy acid (BHA), can be applied to both prevent and treat blackheads on the nose, when used properly. BHA, often listed on ingredients lists as salicylic acid, can also be found in a number of other helpful skin care products such as acne fighting toners and cleansers.
Stronger prescription acne treatments, including oral and topical Retin-A, a prescription version of retinol, are among the most effective acne treatments available. Those with severe acne and blackheads should speak to their dermatologist about oral retinoids as there are a number of side effects and restrictions that should be taken into consideration.
As previously discussed, there are a number of OTC products and prescription options available to help prevent further formations of blackheads on the nose. Depending on the severity of acne, the treatment can range from oral antibiotics to prescription and over-the-counter ointments.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of any acne treatment, your daily skin care routine should be modified to incorporate helpful products and techniques.
The simplest and most important preventative step is to routinely cleanse your face using an appropriate cleanser for your skin type. Washing your face twice daily to remove impurities, dead skin cells and excess oil from the skin will reduce the likelihood of pores becoming blocked.
Exfoliating to remove dead skin cells twice a week can also help to manage acne-prone skin and leave skin fresh and clean. Using a clay mask once or twice per week can help to absorb excess sebum and reduce the likelihood of blackheads forming.
If blackheads on your nose persist, you may want to introduce a retinol product into your skin care regime. Retinols promote cellular turnover and unclog blocked pores. However, retinols should be avoided by those that have sensitive or dry skin
If you regularly use makeup, using noncomedogenic makeup can help to prevent blackheads. These and other skin products labeled as noncomedogenic, are specially designed not to block pores.
Although unclogging a blocked pore at home may appear simple enough, if it is not done properly it can result in acne breakouts and scarring. Extraction tools and chemical exfoliants can help to quickly treat blackheads without damage to your skin.
A preventative regime of cleansing and exfoliation designed to keep pores clean is a good option to eliminate acne from your nose. If blackheads persists, you may want to add retinol to your skin care regimen or speak with your dermatologist.
- Acne: Overview. (2016, July 28). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279211/
- Williams HC, Dellavalle RP, Garner S. Acne vulgaris. Lancet 2012; 379(9813): 361-372. thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60321-8/fulltext