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Blackheads on the nose: causes, prevention, treatment

  • Blackheads often appear on the nose because it contains a concentrated amount of oil-producing glands.
  • You can try to extract a blackhead, but if that doesn’t work the first time, see a dermatologist.
  • You can prevent future blackheads with our 5 tips for developing the right skincare routine.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference Library for more tips.

Blackheads are a form of acne that occur when a skin pore becomes clogged with oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells.

“Like potholes in a road, our pores can fill with debris that then oxidizes with air and turns black,” says Brian Toy, MD, dermatologist at Providence Mission Hospital.

Up to 20% of adults have blackheads, medically known as open comedones.

Unfortunately, although blackheads are common, “they can be extremely difficult to treat,” says Toy. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to prevent blackheads and get rid of them when they occur.

Why do you have so many blackheads on your nose?

Blackheads are more common in areas of the skin that have more sebaceous glands, which produce oil.

The highest concentration of these glands are found on the nose, chin, neck, back, and chest, says Smita R. Ramanadham, MD, plastic surgeon and skin care expert at Smita R. Ramanadham Plastic Surgery .

Because of this, the nose and cheeks are prone to blackheads. Since many people wear makeup – which can clog pores – and frequently touch their face during the day – which can introduce bacteria – blackheads on the face are very common.

Still, “it’s not uncommon to find black spots in other areas,” says Ramanadham.

Blackheads aren’t contagious, but it’s common to have a cluster in the same area, she says. This comes down to the fact that certain areas, like the nose, are more oily and prone to clogging.

Anyone can get blackheads, but men are more susceptible to them because testosterone increases oil production, Toy says. People going through puberty or menopause are also more susceptible due to hormonal changes that can increase oil production, he adds.

How to get rid of blackheads on nose permanently

The best way to get rid of blackheads is to prevent them from happening in the first place with a good skin care routine.

“Hygiene plays a huge role in the development of blackheads,” says Toy.

Removing makeup, oil, sunscreen, dirt, and bacteria from your face in the morning and at the end of the day can prevent your pores from becoming clogged. Here’s what can help prevent blackheads.

1. Don’t rely on makeup remover wipes

While makeup remover wipes are effective, they aren’t always, says Toy.

“The immensely popular cleansing wipes that many of my patients use don’t do an adequate job of removing dirt and makeup,” he says.

Don’t rely solely on a cleansing wipe. Instead, use soap and water or a cleanser in addition to the wipe, he says.

2. Be tough

If you’re prone to acne, you may need to forego gentle cleansers like Cetaphil and SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser, Toy says.

Instead, choose a skin cleanser designed for acne-prone or blackhead-prone skin, like Neutrogena Acne Wash and Proactiv. These will clean your pores more thoroughly.

3. Choose your products carefully

When choosing a foundation, moisturizer or sunscreen, look for a non-comedogenic product. These are designed not to clog pores, says Toy. The non-comedogenic descriptor must appear directly on the label.

4. Avoid touching your face

During the day, try to minimize contact with your face, Ramanadham says. This can be difficult, as people touch their faces about 23 times per hour. This will minimize the amount of bacteria entering your pores.

Also, if you always wear a mask as a precaution against COVID-19, change your mask daily and wash it before using it again.

5. Use prevention products

Some skin care products can prevent blackheads. Moisturizers containing retinol or tretinoin promote skin renewal, helping to prevent dead skin particles from clogging pores, Ramanadham says.

Another effective ingredient is salicylic acid. Using a cleanser containing 2% salicylic acid before bed can help exfoliate the skin and prevent pores from becoming clogged, Ramanadham says.

People with frequent blackheads can also try using an over-the-counter 0.1 percent adapalene gel to prevent new blackheads from appearing, says Toy.

What to do when blackheads appear

Blackheads close to the surface of the skin sometimes go away on their own. But if a blackhead is still there after several weeks, it’s best to contact a professional esthetician or dermatologist, says Toy.

They will remove the blackhead using a comedone extractor. Although these tools are available to buy and use at home, trying to remove your own blackheads carries the risk of scarring and infection.

Still, “I understand that many of my patients can’t help themselves and will try to help themselves,” says Toy. He gives his patients permission to take a single attempt at extracting the blackhead using their fingernails, but urges them not to try more than once.

“If the blackhead is not extruded after one attempt, I tell the patient to give up, because at that point the success rate is low,” he says. “Also, the more they dig their nails into the skin, the more likely it is to result in scarring.”

If you are going to try to remove a blackhead, stick with your fingers, do not use a comedone extractor. Be sure to wash your hands before trying so you don’t introduce more bacteria.

What else could these blackheads be

Sometimes sebaceous filaments are mistaken for blackheads. However, the sebaceous filaments, which help oil flow to the skin’s surface, are often lighter and smaller, appearing like little dots, Ramanadham says.

Spots that look like blackheads can also be something more sinister.

“Deadly skin cancers such as melanoma or pigmented basal cell carcinoma can mimic the appearance of a blackhead,” says Toy. “Only a trained professional can make the diagnosis, so if a ‘blackhead’ doesn’t go away, it should be examined by a board-certified dermatologist.”

Insider’s Takeaways

Almost everyone will experience a blackhead at one time or another. Implementing a solid skincare routine, including nightly washing and exfoliation, can help ward off blackheads. If you have severe, widespread, or recurring blackheads, a professional can probably help.

“The best way to prevent blackheads is good hygiene and skin care,” says Ramanadham. “The key is to see a healthcare professional to assess your skin concerns and implement a skincare regimen that can unclog pores and control oil production.”

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