Blackhead - Treatment & Prescriptions



Blackheads, also known as open comedones, are a type of acne that forms as a result of clogged pores. These are harmless, but they might cause people social or emotional distress. They are the most common form of acne other than whiteheads. Blackheads and whiteheads differ in that skin does not cover the pore in blackheads. When that skin is off, the plug turns black and turns into a blackhead.



Blackheads in forehead



Blackheads are a firm bump on the skin that is black at the opening.



Hair follicles have sebaceous oil glands that secrete an oil called sebum, which lubricates and waterproofs the skin. When dead skin cells clog the exit of the hair follicle, the sebum builds up and hardens creating a plug made of dead skin and hardened sebum. The sebum oil secreted by hair follicles builds up to produce a bump so many of us are familiar with. The bump and plug are covered by a layer of skin which makes the bump appear white to yellow or flesh colored. When the layer of skin is taken off, the opening containing dead skin cells and oil reacts with oxygen in the air and turns black.



Ultimately, each treatment for acne specializes in certain acne-fighting techniques, so it’s important to choose the best treatment for your skin type and situation. Acne treatment is complex, but they have a similar effect on acne. They generally remove dead skin, reduce sebum presence, kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation, and treat acne scars. Here are a variety of treatments and acne medications you should know about to try and achieve your perfect complexion.

Home Remedies

While home remedies have taken on popularity, there are little to no studies confirming the effectiveness of such treatments. In some cases, it might even do more harm than good considering their minimal effectiveness versus the unknown side effects they could have on your body. It’s best to follow the medical advice of a dermatologist because they know what will or will not treat the disease. Here are some popular home remedies that you should be careful with:

  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Ice

Over the Counter

While some over the counter (OTC) medications are effective enough to be given as prescriptions, other OTC medications have limited effects on disease. They might help for mild to moderate cases, but they aren’t usually effective on severe ones. If used incorrectly and without guidance, they might even prove to be ineffective and produce unforeseen side effects. However, a dermatologist can tell you whether or not these can be effective for you. Here are some OTC medications that may or may not be included in a treatment plan given by one of our dermatologists:

  • Salicylic Acid – A cleanser with this used twice a day mainly used to exfoliate your skin to dissolve dead skin debris and dissolve plugs, so it works best against whiteheads and blackheads. These cleansers are also an anti-inflammatory which reduces redness and swelling. It reduces sebum oil secretion so it doesn’t contribute to the size of the bump and to the plug. Finally, it has antibacterial properties to reduce infection and spreading to other pores.
  • Azelaic Acid – This cream has similar effects to salicylic acid, but it requires a higher concentration to do the same job. People use it for its skin lightening properties in acne scars which inhibits the production of excess melanin. Skin lightening effects were noticeably better in combination with tretinoin.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide – This has similar effects to salicylic acid, but its most effective in killing acne-causing bacteria, so its most effective against moderate to severe acne.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids – This has similar effects to salicylic acid, but it has an additional effect of removing layers of dead skin to promote cell turnover. Cell turnover reduces the appearance of acne scars as new skin replaces the scarred tissue.
  • Sulfur – This effective against mild acne because it specializes in removing dead skin cells and removing excess sebum. It works best for mild acne and those with oily skin. Sulfur also has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, but not strong enough to effectively combat moderate to severe acne.


Prescriptions, alongside professional medical advice, are the most effective form of treatment. Home remedies and over the counter treatments take plenty of time, energy, and money, yet are uncertain to work. Our experienced dermatologists take your unique skin, set of symptoms, and medical history into account to take the guessing game out of your road to recovery. Here are some prescriptions your dermatologist might include in your personalized treatment plan:

  • Antibiotics – Antibiotic kills acne-causing bacteria, but they can also be an anti-inflammatory which reduces redness and inflammation.
  • Combination of Oral Contraceptives – A combination containing the hormones estrogen and progestin will lower the amount of androgens circulating in the body. Androgens stimulate the production of more sebum, so reducing androgen presence reduces likelihood of acne.





After being seen by one of our SkyMD dermatologists, you’ve been equipped with the treatment plan and prescription(s) to treat your discomfort. However disease can be persistent, so you have to be too. A skin care routine and a set of disease-preventing habits recommended by our dermatologists are essential for long term prevention. Here are some popular prevention strategies that could supplement your personalized treatment plan:

  • Change pillow cases often.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Use a face cleanser in your skin care routine.
  • Don’t pick at it, and when cleansing, clean gently.
  • Wear non-comedogenic, oil free facial products.
  • Shower after sweating.
  • Reduce stress.
Our board certified doctors can treat a wide variety of medical conditions through SkyMD®. Common conditions that can be diagnosed and treated through our online platform include but are not limited to:

Our Providers

Dr. Miriam Finkel
Dr. Miriam Finkel
of experience
since August, 2021 with SkyMD
Dr. Lisa Stirling
Dr. Lisa Stirling
14+ years of experience
since March, 2019 with SkyMD
Dr. Corey Georgesen
Dr. Corey Georgesen
7+ years of experience
since April, 2020 with SkyMD

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