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- Treatment Overview
Blackheads Treatment Overview
First steps to consider
- Most blackheads can be treated at home.
- Try OTC acne creams, gels, scrubs, that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids.
When you may need a provider
- Blackheads don’t improve after 6–8 weeks of home care, or you also have more severe forms of acne
- You want to have blackheads removed with special tools.
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When to see a healthcare provider
If your blackheads don’t improve after 6–8 weeks of using OTC products, or you also have more severe forms of acne, see a dermatologist (a skin specialist).
What to expect from your visit
- You may be prescribed a topical (applied to the skin) tretinoin (Retin-a), or other vitamin A products. These help keep pores unclogged and exfoliate skin.
- A dermatologist can gently remove blackheads with special tools.
- While it’s possible to buy your own blackhead removal tools, it’s best to have blackheads professionally removed to avoid infection and scarring.
- If your acne doesn't go away or is severe, your dermatologist may recommend antibiotics to get it under control. These include tetracycline, minocycline, and doxycycline. Or you may be prescribed an antibiotic cream (clindamycin).
Types of blackhead providers
- A dermatologist is a skin doctor who is knowledgeable about treatment options and can do in-office procedures to get rid of blackheads and acne.
How to treat blackheads at home
If you want to take care of your blackheads yourself, there are a variety of OTC blackhead treatments, like creams, gels, masks, pads, scrubs, soaps, and toners. Common ingredients include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids. Often a combination of medications and products works best.
If your blackheads don’t improve after 6–8 weeks of home care, or you also have more severe forms of acne, see a dermatologist (a skin specialist).
OTC treatments for blackheads
Face washes, scrubs, gels, and creams contain ingredients such as:
- Salicylic acid, which unclogs pores
- Azelaic acid, which fights bacteria and clears pores
- Benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial chemical that unclogs pores
- Retinol, a type of retinoid, which prevents dead skin cells from building up in your pores. Retinol can be found in products like moisturizers but is also sold as a gel (Differin).
- Acne products with tea tree oil may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
- Green tea is thought to have antioxidant properties, which may help brighten the skin.
Tips for getting rid of blackheads
- Steam can help unclog your pores. Boil water, let it cool for a couple of minutes, and then pour it in a bowl. Steam your face by putting a towel over your head and placing your head over the bowl (never put your face over boiling water).
- Using acne products regularly can help stop blackheads from forming.
- Be patient—it can take 6–8 weeks for products to work.
- Do not try to remove blackheads by squeezing them. This can damage skin and allow bacteria to enter the pore, causing inflammation.