Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Which blackhead cleansers won't dry skin?"
As a teenager, I started getting a lot of blackheads on my forehead and nose. I'm in my 20s now, and still trying to get rid of them, but it seems like every cleanser I try leaves my skin dried out and irritated. Is there a good cleanser for getting rid of blackheads that won't dry my skin?
First let me say a little about what causes blackheads. Scientists believe that there are four major factors that lead to acne: 1) increased production of a protein on the skin called keratin which leads plugging of follicles and the creation of "blackheads;" 2) increased production of an oily substance called sebum that helps to plug the follicles; 3) breakage of the blackheads which causes inflammation of the skin; 4) and finally a bacteria called p. acnes that lives on the skin and helps to worsen the inflammation.
See a doctor who can help
Find a Dermatologists near you
There are several important ways to help limit their formation and keep your skin healthy. First, it is important to use appropriate skin care techniques. Wash your face gently and with just your fingertips or hands. Scrubbing your face hard can only make things worse by increasing irritation and inflammation. There are many facial cleansers on the market that are designed especially for acne and blackheads, and the most common ones contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. However, these can frequently cause dry skin. You can try products such as Cetaphil, Eucerin, or Basis skin cleansers which are designed to be much more gentle on skin. These products can help reduce irritation and inflammation and consequently help to prevent their formation. Using these facial cleansers primarily and then substituting in ones containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid once a day or every other day is a good strategy. A primary care physician or a dermatologist can discuss the best ways to help improve your skin and help you find products that are right for you.
Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.