Popping blackheads seem to be the first thing that comes to the mind when we see those black bumps on our body or face. You look into the mirror and the urge to pop these blackheads and get rid of them are normal as these bumps show up when they are not needed. Even though these blackheads are not needed or they cause spots to appear on the skin, it is not advisable to pop or squeeze them especially by yourself.
Popping them can lead to more blackheads or scarring. If you really want to remove blackheads, you should go to a dermatologist. However, most blackheads can go away on their own with the right treatment and skin care. Let us explain what these blackheads are, what causes them, why you should not pop them and how dermatologists pop blackheads.
WHAT ARE BLACKHEADS?
Blackheads are a mild type of acne that can be found on the face, neck, back, chest, arms, shoulders and even hips. These are small bumps that are caused by blocked hair follicles. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, blackheads are one of the most common skin disorder in the United States as it affects up to 50 million people. The skin has hair follicles and each follicle contains a hair and a gland that produces oil ( sebaceous gland).
The oil produced from this gland helps the skin to be soft. Sometimes, oil and dead skin cells can accumulate in the opening of the hair follicle, the accumulated oil and skin makes a bump on the skin known as a comedo. The skin over the bump can be opened or closed; when it is closed, it is called a whitehead but if it is open, air can get access to this bump causing it to turn black (this is known as blackhead).
FACTORS THAT CAN CAUSE BLACKHEADS
The first cause of blackheads is clogged or blocked hair follicles by dead skin cells and oil. However, there are factors that can increase your chances of having blackheads, some of them are:
- Hormonal changes that cause the body to produce more oil. This can occur during puberty, menstruation and taking birth control pills.
- Producing more body oil
- Drugs like corticosteroids
- Irritation of the hair follicles
SHOULD YOU POP BLACKHEADS?
Popping blackheads may give this satisfaction and pleasure. In fact, for most people, anytime they press their blackheads and have dead skin cell or oil coming out, they feel like they have achieved something but you should know that any time you pop a blackheads, you are damaging your skin. There are elastics around the blackhead pores and when you pop, squeeze or press, you stretch these pores and make them larger or wider.
One thing you should know that these pores will not bounce back to their previous shape after you have made them larger. Also, when you pop blackheads, the skin’s surface makes way for the pus to come out, this can lead to tears on the skin. This tear becomes a wound that can either heal after some time or turn to a scar. So, the more you pop blackheads, the more you cause scars to appear on the skin.
The pus that comes out from the blackheads contains bacteria that can cause more blackheads on skin surfaces that it drops on. This can lead to further infection and more acnes. Sometimes, popping blackheads does not bring them out but pushes the pus back into the skin, you can also introduce new bacteria into the bumps. This can lead to painful irritation, swelling, redness and make it difficult to the acne to heal on its own (Cleveland Clinic).
POPPING BLACKHEADS ON NOSE AND FACE
The most common place to see blackheads are on the face especially the nose and chin, it is always tempting to pop these bumps and get rid of them instantly. But, you should not pop, squeeze or press blackheads on the nose or other parts, doing so will only cause more skin problems for you. You can transfer bacteria and pus from the blackheads to other surfaces on the skin, thereby causing these areas to have blackheads also.
You can even end up causing your nose and face to become red and inflamed, you can also transfer more dirt form your fingers to the blackheads. Whether the acne is on the nose or any part of the body, it is not advisable to pop them. They will clear out on their own after some time or you can use any treatment method to get rid of them.
POPPING BLACKHEADS ON EARS
Blackheads can occur in the outer ear or the external ear canal (Healthline, 2021). The skin of the ear canal contains hair cells or follicles and glands, the glands are responsible for producing ear wax and oil. Excess oil from the glands, bacteria and dead skin cells can build up and clog the pores. This leads to comedo, if the bumps are open and exposed to air, then it becomes blackheads.
Popping blackheads on the ears may seem satisfying but you should avoid doing this as it can make the blackheads become worse than they were. Popping blackheads can push the bacteria deeper into the pores leading to irritation and inflammation. You can even get scars after removing the pus.
You should also know that blackheads on the ears are so painful as there is cartilage there and the skin is tight as well. Popping blackheads can cause more pain and inflammation around the cartilage.
CAN BLACKHEADS GO AWAY ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT POPPING THEM?
It may interest you to know that blackheads can go away on their own just like other types of acne but the difference is that it will take a while for this to happen. Blackheads are very stubborn, it may take up to months or even years for them to clear out depending on how severe they are, they just need patience. If the blackheads are very close to the surface of the skin, they will go away on their own after sometime but if they are very deep in the skin, they may not clear out on their own.
You may need to use some treatment methods to remove them. The blackheads that easily resolve do so because the skin renews by removing dead skin and creating new ones from time to time. The cells on the top layer of the skin are renewed every four to six weeks, so blackheads that are just on this layer can be cleared off during the renewal process.
DR PIMPLE POPPER POPPING BLACKHEADS
Watch one of Dr Pimple Popper videos popping 2 large blackheads
You may have heard of this name or not, but this is a dermatologist who pops blackheads, pimple, cysts and nodules. The name of this dermatologist is Dr. Sandra Lee, a California based skin doctor who films and upload videos of her popping zits, cysts, and blackheads on her Instagram and YouTube account.
She did not start by uploading these videos; in fact, according to her, she is of the opinion that popping blackheads and pimples are better for aestheticians but most of her followers are not of the same opinion. It was discovered that most of her popular posts and most shared or reacted posts are videos of her extracting acne. Dr Sandra Lee began to post videos of popping blackheads from the skin and her audience grew.
She adopted the name “Dr. Pimple Popper” on YouTube when she started to upload videos that are more than 15 minutes and her audience have grown more over the years with some having more than 350 million views and 850,000 subscribers. Not only does she film clients with their permission but she is referred as an expert because she can remove blackheads without any issue springing up. She is also an expert in performing conventional procedures like Botox, vein removal, skin-cancer surgery.
HOW PROFESSIONALS POP BLACKHEADS: PIMPLE POPPING BLACKHEADS
If you cannot wait for the blackheads to clear on their own or you really want to pop them, you can see a dermatologist or an aesthetician, they are well trained and know how to pop blackheads without worsening the acne or causing more damage to the skin.
They have an instrument known as a comedone extractor which is used to remove the contents of blackheads. However, if you are determined to pop your blackheads by yourself, there is a proper way to do it but you have to wait till there is a firm white head, this means that the blackhead is ready to be drained.
Follow the step below to help you pop blackheads
- Wash your hands with warm water, mild soap and a fingernail brush. Use the brush to clean the nails of dirts.
- Use the heat from a matchstick or lighter to sterilize a straight pin. Allow the pin to get cool and wipe it thoroughly with alcohol. Apply the alcohol on the blackhead and on your fingers as well. This is done to prevent transfer of bacteria or infection.
- Dry your fingers or wipe them with a clean cloth.
- Position the pin on the surface of the skin and pierce the white top of the blackhead gently with the pin.
- Press the blackhead gently with your fingers or a cotton swab. Press around the white tip, pressing on the tip will cause the pus to push back inside the pores. If there is no pus coming out, do not continue pressing, it means that the blackhead is not ready yet.
- After pressing out the pus, apply alcohol or any skin ointment on the skin.
Blackheads can be embarrassing especially if they appear on visible areas of the skin or hips you may even be tempted to pop them and get rid of them but doing this will only add to your problem. You may end up transferring new bacteria from the fingers to the skin pores or push back the pus inside. In some cases, you may not pop out all the pus and this can lead to inflammation.
It is best to see a dermatologist or an aesthetician as they are well trained to remove acnes, cyst and nodules. However, if you really want to remove your blackheads by yourself, you can follow the steps we outlined above.