So what causes blackheads, and what can you do to get rid of them?
Blackheads are small, dark spots that appear on the skin. Blackheads can affect any area of the body, including the chest.
Blackheads are not dangerous, cancerous, or painful. However, they can be very unsightly, especially when they appear on areas of the body that are on public view. Blackheads on the chest can be particularly embarrassing in the summertime when you want to wear less clothing.
Both men and women can get blackheads on the chest.
Contrary to popular belief, blackheads on the chest are not caused by poor personal hygiene and dirty skin.
In fact, blackheads are more correctly called “comedones”.
A comedone forms when the hair follicles in the skin become blocked with a combination of oily sebum, a substance that the skin produces, and dead skin cells. The area of the comedone that appears on the surface of the skin is dark or black in color, hence the common name, “blackhead”.
Each hair follicle in your skin houses one hair. Under the hair lies the sebaceous gland, which produces sebum. When the pores are clogged, the dead skin cells that are trapped in the sebum react with the oxygen in the air. The exposed area of the blocked follicle turns black and forms the blackhead.
There are some unavoidable reasons why you may develop blackheads on your chest including:
Unless you have severe acne as well as blackheads, you do not usually need to seek medical attention. Blackheads on the chest can usually be self-treated at home.
To treat blackheads on your chest successfully, you will need to buy some special fragrance-free acne skin scrub.
Be sure to shower every day, more frequently if you have exercised and sweated heavily. Gently exfoliate the chest area and rinse away the product thoroughly afterward. Dry the chest area and apply a light moisturizer to the skin.
Exfoliation can help to remove and prevent blackheads by getting rid of excessive amounts of dead skin cells and accumulated sebum. Moisturizing is very important as if your skin becomes dehydrated, your body will respond by producing skin oils and sebum, potentially causing more blackheads to form. Do not use oily moisturizers or lotions on the skin – these can trap dead skin cells and clog the pores even more! Make sure that any products you use on your skin are non-comedogenic.
You may also wish to try topical drug therapy to treat blackheads on the chest. Treatments include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and azelaic acid, which can be bought over-the-counter in a pharmacy. Prescription drugs, including tazarotene, tretinoin, and adapalene can be obtained from your GP. These drugs can be helpful in stimulating the rapid turnover of new skin cell, and preventing debris from blocking the hair follicles.
Skin conditions such as rosacea or eczema can make treating blackheads difficult. You may need to speak to your GP about effective treatment for these conditions before you can tackle your blackheads.
When your skin is exposed to the sun, always use sunscreen, but avoid products that have a very high oil content.
There are a few commonly used methods of tackling blackheads that should be avoided, as they can actually make the problem worse:
If you prefer not to use drugs or chemicals to get rid of the blackheads, there are a few natural, plant-based treatments that you could try. These treatments are particularly useful if the blackheads you have are accompanied by acne.
Try applying essential oils of tea tree, thyme, rose, and aloe vera to affected areas. These substances all have antibacterial properties, preventing the blackheads from becoming infected and helping to reduce the skin inflammation that acne causes.
In many cases, blackheads on the chest area will resolve on their own when the body’s hormones settle down after puberty. However, if you are still plagued by acne and blackheads on the chest, have a chat with a good dermatologist for more advice.