The pinch, the pop, and the cathartic rush of satisfaction that accompanies the extrication of a blackhead. This insidiously exciting albeit gross affair continues to receive attention from skincare enthusiasts, especially in the months where DIY home facials became a near necessity in Phase 1 of the Circuit Breaker.
Yet, as much as we enjoy the prodding and unplugging of these pesky little oil clogs most commonly found in the nose area, each forceful removal carries along with it extremely dangerous possibilities that could lead to permanent scarring, infections, and in some cases, the loss of vision.
An unlucky 17-year-old girl from the Philippines learnt this the hard way when her attempt at squeezing out a blackhead led to the seemingly irreversible swelling of her nose, cheeks, and forehead. Keep scrolling to read her story.
But first, what exactly are blackheads?
When the opening of hair follicles get congested with excess sebum and dead skin cells, the dirt and grim lodged in these pores remain in the pores unless exfoliated away or extracted. Once they are exposed to air, they oxidise and eventually turn black, giving rise to the term blackheads.
To set the record straight, there’s no 100% safe way to extract blackheads from home. No matter if you’re experimenting with the latest viral hacks you see on the internet promising unbelievable results or trying your hand at comedone tools, these mild forms of acne are difficult to remove safely from home unless given the right tools and knowledge.
For instance, it can be tricky to tell sebaceous filaments from blackheads although the former are pretty much harmless. Hence, it’s best you leave the heavy-duty extraction to your esthetician instead.
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The case of 17-year old Mary Ann Regacho
It was not long after the mother-of-one gave birth to her infant son when she noticed an increase in the number of blackheads flecked across her nose region. The girl proceeded to pick at one that was reported to be particularly stubborn but was unsuccessful.
Over the next few days, her nose started to swell up and felt painful to the touch. Soon, the lump on the bridge of her nose expanded, inflating like a balloon across her entire face, reaching her cheeks and forehead. The bulge eventually stretched to the corners of her eyes, leaving her with limited and distorted vision.
The teen tested out home treatments using herbal medicines for a year before finally seeking professional help.
Unfortunately the small hospital in her province doesn’t have the equipment to diagnose her. She will have to be transferred to a bigger hospital for a proper diagnosis.
However, due to hefty medical fees, Regacho and her husband were left in the lurch with the girl remaining in a unrecognisable state.
The Viral Press shared Regacho’s unfortunate experience, hoping that the teen mom can raise enough money to seek treatment from major hospitals in order to restore her appearance.
How to prevent blackheads
If you have dry, flaky, or sensitive skin, it’s best to exfoliate on the regular with a gentle scrub or dry brush to keep pores unclogged and free of flakes.
For folks with oily, acne-prone skin, reach for a cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These help melt away oil plugs and prevent dirt from accumulating. It would be helpful to incorporate a clay mask into your skincare routine as well. Avoid products containing oil.
Check out this comprehensive list of 28 well-loved blackhead removal products for more tips and recommendations.