Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments
Many acne medications are available at drug and grocery stores without a prescription. These medications are available in cream, gel, and pad form and are put directly on your skin. The drugs contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and resorcinol. They work by killing bacteria, drying excess oil, and forcing the skin to shed dead skin cells.
If OTC treatment doesn’t improve your acne, your doctor may suggest that you use stronger prescription medications. Medications that contain vitamin A keep plugs from forming in the hair follicles and promote more rapid turnover of skin cells. These medications are applied directly to your skin and can include tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene.
Your doctor may also prescribe another type of topical medication that contains benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics. If you have pimples or acne cysts in addition to your blackheads, this type of medication may be particularly helpful.
Dermatologists or specially trained skin care professionals use a special instrument called a round loop extractor to remove the plug causing the blackhead. After a small opening is made in the plug, the doctor applies pressure with the extractor to remove the clog.
During microdermabrasion, a doctor or skin care professional uses a special instrument that contains a rough surface to sand the top layers of your skin. Sanding the skin removes clogs that cause blackheads.
Chemical peels also remove clogs and get rid of the dead skins cells that contribute to blackheads. During a peel, a strong chemical solution is applied to the skin. Over time, the top layers of the skin peel off, revealing smoother skin underneath. Mild peels are available over the counter, while stronger peels are performed by dermatologists or other skincare professionals.
Laser and light therapy
Laser and light therapies use tiny beams of intense light to decrease oil production or kill bacteria. Both lasers and light beams reach below the surface of the skin to treat blackheads and acne without damaging the top layers of the skin.