Are Blackhead Comedone? To find out whether blackheads are comedones, there first has to be knowledge of both blackheads and comedones – that is, their nature and causes.
What are Comedones and Blackheads?
The singular form of comedones is comedo, which is the Latin word for glutton. People of long ago believed that the remnants of a gluttonous worm made up the contents of a comedo. Comedones are defined as dilated hair follicles that are filled with keratin squamae, or skin debris, sebum – or oil – and bacteria. Comedones may be open or closed.
A blackhead is said to be a plug of sebum found in a hair follicle that has become darkened by oxidation, which is the action of oxygen on the sebum. It is a kind of pimple, therefore it is a kind of acne. Medically it is known as an open comedo, and it has a wide skin opening that is topped with a mass of skin debris that has become blackened, hence the name, blackhead. So, in answer to the question, blackheads are comedones.
Since they are comedones, blackheads need to be treated with care. Because of their black color, from the oxidation of the sebum, as well as the melanin pigment from the dead skin cells, there might be the temptation to scrub blackheads, thinking dirt is being eradicated. That should not be done, however, since scrubbing might make matters worse. A mild soap should be used to cleanse the skin once, or perhaps twice, per day, and then the skin should be patted dry. Also, cosmetics which have an oil base should not be used with blackheads, since that could aggravate the already oily condition at the site of the follicles.
Blackheads are different from other kinds of pimples because they tend to be very small, and are able to maintain that size. They are formed in a similar way to other pimples, but instead of becoming inflamed, the pimple turns into a blackhead. They can be found anywhere on the skin, as long as there are follicles, but blackheads are mainly found on the face and on the arms. If they are left untreated, they may become cystic or develop into scars.
As blackheads are a little more stubborn than other kinds of pimples, they may not disappear, even with regular cleansing aimed at targeting acne. The reason for this is that the oils are clogged in the pores, but there is no inflammation. Usually, when an inflammation is restricted, the pore that was blocked is cleared as a result.
The absence of inflammation means that the treatment for blackheads has to be a little different. If regular treatment does not work, then other measures must be taken. You can see our comprehensive blackhead treatment post here.
A facial mask may be used for acne treatment. A typical acne treatment facial is done by an esthetician, who starts by cleansing the skin. The skin on the different parts of the face is then examined with a bright light that magnifies the skin to reveal its condition. The facial skin is then exfoliated, utilizing hot vapor to open the pores and minimize damage to the skin. The mask is applied and allowed to remain on the face for a long time. Removal of the mask causes excess oils to be pulled from the open pores. The blackheads would be removed during this process, thereby clearing the skin. Facial masks are specific to skin types. In other words, there are masks for oily skin and dry skin, and so the facial masks should be applied accordingly. After the process, follow-up lotions tighten the pores or nourish the skin.
Facial scrubs are another common treatment for blackheads in both teens and adults. These scrubs usually have granules of various forms that are used with skin masks as well. Scrubbing helps in the eradication of dead skin cells and the loosening of clogged pores so that their contents can be released. As the facial scrub has the potential to irritate skin, it should not be used if other types of acne are also affecting the area. Facial scrubs can be purchased or made at home.
Professional blackhead removers, or extractors, may also be used in the fight against blackheads. Some extractors have objects that put pressure on blackheads. In some extractors, the pressure objects are ringed devices, while in others they are fine or medium loops.
There are many pressure devices available for removing blackheads. Usually they are pressed on the skin around the blackhead. Applied pressure literally squeezes out the contents of the clogged pores. Sometimes the pores are loosened and expanded with a warm solution before the pressure devices are applied to the blackheads.
Blackhead comedone should be eradicated and prevented from recurring. This has implications for getting to the source of the problem. Excessive oil and dead skin cells, which are the cause of blackheads, should be removed. Natural ingredients that are not harsh, should be used, since harsh products remove oil from the skin, which causes the production of more oil, which causes more blocked pores, and so the cycle continues. Natural oils, such as jojoba or coconut oil, may be used to clean the skin, since they would not clog the pores. Products which contain alcohol, lanolin, and mineral oil, however, to name a few, should be avoided. Squeezing them with the fingers should also be avoided, as some of the contents could be forced deeper into the skin, causing permanent damage.
Yes, blackheads are comedones, and for this reason they should be treated with care. They should not be mistaken for dirt, and consequently abused in the name of cleansing. They should also not be washed with oil based cosmetics, as these could make them worse. In order to prevent blackheads from forming in the first place, the acne problem needs to be addressed from inside the skin. This is done by inhibiting the buildup of bacteria and strengthening the pores.
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