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DefinitionBlackheads are tiny, dark spots caused by a small plug in the opening of a follicle (pore) on the skin. Blackheads are also called open comedomes.See also:AcneWhiteheadsConsiderationsCommon Causes
Article updated and reviewed by Michael S. Lehrer, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania on April 18, 2005.Technically called acne vulgaris, this skin disease affects millions of Americans annually. It can vary from quite mild to extremely severe.Acne usually develops when the sebaceous glands and the lining of the hair follicle begin to work overtime, as they do in adolescence. Normally, the lining of the hair follicle sheds cells that are carried to the surface of the skin by the sebum. When the follicle is overworked and clogged, cells and sebum accumulate, forming a plug (comedo).If the plug stays below the surface of the skin, it is called a "closed" comedo or whitehead. If the plug enlarges and pops out of the duct, it is called an "open" comedo or blackhead because the top is dark. This is not dirt and will not wash away. The discoloration is due to the way light is absorbed by the skin cells within the openi...
Alternative NamesAcne vulgaris; Cystic acne; Pimples; ZitsSymptomsAcne commonly appears on the face and shoulders, but it may also occur on the trunk, arms, legs, and buttocks.BlackheadsCrusting of skin bumpsCystsPapules (small red bumps)PustulesRedness around the skin eruptionsScarring of the skinWhiteheadsSigns and testsYour doctor can diagnose acne based on the appearance of the skin. Testing is usually not required.
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