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Blackheads are simply pores which have become clogged by a plug of oil and dead skin cells. When the plug reaches the skin's surface, it oxidizes, turning a blackish color on top. Blackheads are most likely to occur on the nose, chin, and forehead, where oil glands are numerous, but may appear almost anywhere.

Since the process of producing oil and shedding skin cells is ongoing, blackheads can be difficult to prevent. However, an appropriate skin care routine can discourage their formation by sloughing off dead cells. Most doctors suggest washing with a soft cloth and a gentle cleanser.

Afterwards, applying a topical product containing salicylic (sal-uh-SIHL-ihk) acid or retinoic (reh-tih-NOH-ihk) acid can exfoliate the dead skin that may trap blackheads. Make sure any sunscreens, lotions, or cosmetics you wear are oil-free and labeled ""non-comedogenic (koh-mee-doh-JIHN-ihk),"" meaning they don't clog pores. The occasional use of pull-off pore strips or clay masks may also be helpful. When blackheads are severe, you might consider visiting a dermatologist for a light skin peel or mechanical removal of the plugs with a special instrument.