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Blackheads: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Sep 25, 2023

What is the treatment?

If your skin has clogged hair follicles then you are likely to suffer from the condition of blackheads. Blackheads are a milder form of acne and appear on the skin as bumps or lesions. Although, blackheads commonly develop on the face they can also appear on the arms, shoulders, back, neck and chest.

Our skin is composed of sebaceous gland which produces oil called sebum, to keep our skin soft. The oil is responsible for lubricating your skin. When you sweat this oil gets secreted along with the sweat. Also, when you sweat the accumulated dirt particles, bacteria and oil gets removed from the skin. There are numerous hair follicles on your skin. When the hair follicle gets clogged by the dust, dead skin cells or oil at the opening, it forms a bump or lesion which is called a blackhead. Usually, this bump opens up and is exposed to the air. When it continues to remain closed, it is called a whitehead. Blackheads are basically a type of comedo which is a clogged hair follicle or a pore.

The factors that play into the formation of blackheads are over-production of oil by the sebaceous glands, hormonal changes (especially hormonal changes that teens undergo when they hit puberty or women undergo during their menstruation cycle), taking drugs, excessive sweating, buildup of bacteria on the skin and having an unhealthy diet.

How is the treatment done?

There are a number of medical treatment methods that you can opt for in order to remedy your blackhead problem. The doctor may prescribe a strong topical medication like an ointment or cream. Usually, the topical medications are made from ingredients such as tazarotene, tretinoin, adapalene and vitamin A. Certain topical medications which are antibiotic in nature help to destroy the bacteria that is trapped within the blackheads. The topical creams and ointments also promote the growth of new cells. Certain blackheads require stronger antibiotics in order to kill the bacteria. In such cases oral medications are prescribed.

Some patients opt for laser or light therapies. These therapies treat the problem of blackheads at the root level. The treatment focuses on the deep pockets of oil that lead to formation of comedo’s or blackheads. The Laser or light therapy cuts down the production of oil and destroys the bacteria contained inside the blackhead.

Patients are strongly ill-advised to squeeze out the blackheads. Instead dermatologists recommend the extraction process to be carried out with the help of sterile devices and under expert observation. This method is known as blackhead extraction and involves a process where the dermatologist will squeeze the bacteroia and oil out the clogged pore or hair follicle.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

All those suffering from blackheads problem are eligible to go for the treatments mentioned above.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

All those having highly sensitive skin and those already suffering from some dermatological condition should consult with their dermatologist before undergoing any kind of treatment.


Are there any side effects?

Like all treatments, the treatment for blackhead also includes certain reactions to the medications prescribed by the doctor. Some of these reactions can be either mild or severe. Topical medications lead to side effects such skin redness, burning or stinging sensation. The side effects of oral medications include headache, upset stomach, nausea, depression and a risk of breast cancer.

Those undergoing laser or light therapy experience slight redness which disappears within a few days following the therapy. The extraction method if not done correctly can leave behind a life-long scar.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The post-treatment guidelines include taking care of your skin to prevent any future development of blackheads or clogged pores once again. These include washing and cleansing your face at least two-three times every day. Use oil-free products that are not heavy on your skin. Also exfoliating or scrubbing your face at least two or three times a week removes the accumulated dead skin particles, dirt and other impurities. Also, keep yourself hydrated and maintain a healthy diet that does not include consuming too much fat, oily or greasy and fried food items.

How long does it take to recover?

If you are seeking help for your blackheads medically or with that of a cosmetic surgery like a laser or light therapy, recovery takes about a few days. However, treating for your blackheads is a life-long process that needs to be continued in order to prevent any future breakouts.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of topical ointments for treating blackheads range from around Rs. 50 to Rs. 2000. The cost of a laser treatment in India would cost you around Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 30, 000.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment are permanent but you need to take care of your skin on an everyday basis to prevent any future possibilities of blackheads.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Alternative treatments for blackhead removal include homeopathy and home remedies.


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Written ByDr. Shaurya Rohatgi MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy,MBBSDermatology
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