Definition Blackheads 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: Acne Whiteheads Considerations Common 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 Names Acne vulgaris; Cystic acne; Pimples; Zits Symptoms Acne commonly appears on the face and shoulders, but it may also occur on the trunk, arms, legs, and buttocks. Blackheads Crusting of skin bumps Cysts Papules (small red bumps) Pustules Redness around the skin eruptions Scarring of the skin Whiteheads Signs and tests Your doctor can diagnose acne based on the appearance of the skin. Testing is usually not required.
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