- Blackheads and congestion are super irritating and difficult to clear from the skin.
- DIY treatments for blackheads can often cause more harm than good.
- It’s best to avoid harsh scrubs and tools when trying to rid your skin of blackheads.
Blackheads might be tiny, but they’re incredibly bothersome making it easy to get carried away trying to remove them. According to some dermatologists, though, many at-home treatments for blackhead removal leave the skin more irritated and scarred than it was before.
“Blackheads are typically non-scarring forms of acne,” Rachel Nazarian MD, FAAD told INSIDER. “Any manipulation, squeezing, or pressure increases the inflammation in the skin and can break blood vessels, damage the pore, or cause permanent scars.”
INSIDER talked to Dr. Nazarian about the worst things you can do to get rid of blackheads.
Coarse exfoliating scrubs can break the skin
When you use a powerful scrub to wash your face, you might feel like its coarseness is giving you a deeper clean. But, according to Dr. Nazarian, that’s not necessarily the case.
“Rough and abrasive exfoliating scrubs will not remove blackheads and can cause the delicate skin tissue to tear,” she said. “Although it is a method of physical exfoliation, it should be done very, very gently, and infrequently to prevent excessive removal of skin and irritation.”
She also said any scrub should be used with light pressure.
DIY treatments are dangerous
You’ve likely seen DIY face-mask tutorials all over your social media feeds. And although you may have an inclination to try one out, Dr. Nazarian strongly recommends against it.
“Your skin is a very delicate organ, and just like you would not make your cholesterol medications or eye-drops solution at home, you should treat your skin with the same standards,” she said.
“Use the help of your dermatologist, and limit your skin-care items to products that have been purified and standardized. Many of the at-home recipes are quite dangerous for skin, this includes masks and scrubs made with the use of salt or sugar scrubs, lemon juice, baking soda, or even spot treatment for acne with toothpaste, or any other suggestions that involve ingredients with a much different pH than that of skin,” she added.
Be wary of spa facials
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Many people think they’re doing right by their skin by scheduling a facial with an esthetician at their local spa. Dr. Nazarian, however, said to be wary of who treats your skin and the processes they use because, although estheticians are professionals, some of their methods can still be damaging.
“Most facialists [are] not trained to know which blackheads can be safely removed, and which ones are not ready to be extracted,” she said. “Generally, your skin needs to be prepped with an ingredient for several weeks that will loosen the blackhead before extraction is attempted. Many facialists are not aware of these limitations and are unfortunately the reason people present to their dermatologist with broken capillaries and scarring. I’m sure there are many facialists who have some education regarding the rules around acne and blackheads, but the reality is that your extractions are best left in the hands of a board-certified dermatologist.”
Leave the tool use to a professional
You may have thought about upgrading your post-shower picking time with an at-home extracting instrument to help you remove the gunk from your skin more effectively.
Dr. Nazarian does not recommend the at-home use of such tools, as they can lead to further inflammation and scarring.
“When in doubt, speak to a board-certified dermatologist physician,” she said. “They train for years on the appropriate way to treat blackheads.”