Blackheads are small dark spots found on the skin which are caused by blockage of the pore openings. The other name for blackheads is open comedomes. Some individuals have one blackhead and other have numerous blackheads.

Blackheads are commonly associated with acne and are caused by a similar mechanism. The pores on the skin are blocked by the excess oil and cosmetic creams on the skin. The blockage of the pores leads to growth of bacteria on the skin.

Whenever blackheads are opened, the contents reveal a large amount of oil (sebum) and dry skin containing keratin. As soon as the blackhead is open and the oil is exposed to air, it turns black

The pores can be blocked by numerous materials such as dust, dirt, creams and cosmetics powders. In all cases, when the skin pores are blocked, it causes the bacteria to multiply

Unlike acne, blackheads are not very cosmetically disturbing to the individual. The blackheads are also flatter and much smaller in size. Even though many people squeeze blackhead, this should not be common practice. Repeat squeezing can lead to permanent formation of scars and possible infection.

In general, blackheads to not cause any symptoms, except that they are cosmetically unattractive. In the very unusual case, blackheads to get infected and the surrounding skin may appear red.

Blackheads can be made worse if

- There is excessive shedding of the dry skin which blocks the pores

- You take the birth control pill. The pill is known to stimulate the secretion of skin oil

- You are pregnant. The sex hormones released during pregnancy stimulate the body to make excess oils

- You do not clean the skin well. For those with oil skin, frequent drying of the skin in important to prevent oils from clogging the pores

- You use excessive make up, cosmetic creams and lotions which block the pores

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