ZocdocAnswersAre blackheads contagious?

Question

Are blackheads contagious?

Are blackheads contagious? My girlfriend has a bunch of blackheads on her nose, and now I've noticed that I started getting them on MY nose. I'm 22 and I've never had blackheads before. What can I do to keep them from spreading?

Answer

First let me say a little about what scientists believe 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. A blackhead is one form of acne and called an open comedo. It is the result of the plugged follicle containing the excess keratin and sebum. It is frequently associated with a hair follicle which can contribute to its black color. Though, a bacteria does play a role in the formation of acne there is no scientific evidence that I am aware of that acne is contagious. Still, there are several important ways to help limit their formation. First, you can choose a face wash that is designed especially for acne. There are many on the market, and the most common ones contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Second, wash your face gently and with your just your fingertips or hands. Scrubbing your face hard can only make things worse by increasing irritation and inflammation. Finally, avoid oily products for both your hair and your face. If the blackheads are still a problem after all of this you should talk with your primary care doctor about other options that they can prescribe.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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