Monday, March 14, 2016

Blackheads in all the wrong places

I don’t know exactly what blackheads are. The pores on the sides of my nose are dark. I’m assuming these are blackheads. What should I do to keep them from getting worse?

Basically, blackheads (also termed comedos or comedones) are clogged pores. The pore, which is a tiny opening on the surface of the skin, can collect skin cells, excreted oil, as well as debris in the air. This mixture can oxidize, causing it to turn a dark color. That is probably what you are seeing on the sides of your nose. 

The best thing to do is to make sure you are cleaning your skin properly on a daily basis and if possible, using a clay mask once or twice a week. Clay has a deep cleansing effect, helping to unclog the pores, which is just what you need to use on blackheads. For daily maintenance do The Basics, and for some additional steps, The Extras (see links below).

What can I do about blackheads around my lips? I recently had a facial and the aesthetician removed them (it hurt!). What, if anything, can I do to prevent them?

Depending on the skill of the aesthetician, extractions can be uncomfortable. The area just at the lip line is a very sensitive area and therefore extractions there can be painful. Hopefully your facialist is preparing the skin as best she can to soften the skin before extraction.

With all that said, I do recommend having these blackheads removed professionally during a facial. As I mentioned (and as you found out), the area around the lip line is very sensitive, and if these places are not extracted properly (you try too hard or extract incorrectly), the tissue can swell and potentially cause infection, which is usually what happens if you attempt to remove the blackheads at home. If you decide to extract these blackheads yourself, follow the rules of extraction (see the “picking” article link below) and proceed with caution. In other words, go slowly.

The tissue of the lip is less flexible than the skin on your face. These blackheads are usually located right on the edge of the lip tissue and the facial skin. So the clogged pore, even if it is small, will have a harder time dislodging from this area.

Always have your fingers wrapped in tissue (Kleenex®). Also, don’t skip putting a dot of clay mask on each place you have extracted. And don’t wear lipstick immediately after extraction! If you have to extract, do it at night before you go to bed. This way the places have all night long to recuperate.

Note that wherever you extract on your lips, it will probably swell more so than when you extract places on your face. This is due to the difference in the tissue. The swelling will recede, especially with the application of clay.

For more information, see: