What is an Infected Blackhead?
Blackheads are a type of acne in which the pores in the skin gets filled with dead skin, causing it to turn black. They are very common in everyone but usually seen in people that have oily skin. Infected blackheads are usually seen on the nose and forehead even though they can occur on any part of the body.
Symptoms of an Infected Blackhead
It is very common to develop acne on the cheek, chin, forehead, nose and lip region. They can also easily develop on the other parts of the body including the leg, hands or the back. If the blackheads get infected on any of these places they show the following symptoms.
- Swelling – The blackhead is usually a very small bump on the skin and in many cases, there is not even a bump present. When the blackhead gets infected this bump grows larger and the area around it swells. The face has very sensitive skin compared to other parts of the body and most blackheads appear on the face only. An infected blackhead on the face can swell easily and is clearly visible. The swelling is not that prominent on the other parts of the body like the legs and the back.
- Pus formation – The swollen infected blackhead has pus filled inside it. The pus can be of white or green color depending on what has caused the infection. The top of the swollen blackhead is covered by a black cap of the dead skin debris that forms a plug to the bump. When the plug opens, the pus starts draining out on itself. The pus consists of the bacteria that have led to the infection and if not cleaned properly can lead to other parts of the skin getting infected. In some cases, the plug does not open up and the pus keeps accumulating inside the bump causing it to grow even bigger in size.
- Bleeding – When the plug of the swollen infected pimple brakes open or is forced to open the pus comes out. After all the pus is drained, some blood also comes out. In some cases, the pus has tints of blood on it. The infected blackhead is like a wound, and the blood oozes out of it at times and later clotting happens.
- Pain and inflammation – The area around the infected blackhead also swells and a sharp pain is felt when it is touched or pressed. The blackhead infections can also happen in odd places like the ear canal or behind ear which can be very painful. The space inside the ear canal is limited and the area is very sensitive. So, if swelling and bleeding happens in there, it is very painful. Even after the blackhead has drained all the fluid in it, there is slight inflammation that continues until it is completely cured.
- Tenderness – The area around the blackhead and even the area of the infected blackhead feel tender and soft to touch. The tenderness is usually because the space inside it is filled with fluid and the body is constantly trying the heal the wound by itself.
- Redness – The infected blackhead usually turns pinkish red and the area around it turns pink. The redness increases if the area is touched or meddled with. The blackhead on the face usually turns red and is the first sign to tell that the blackhead is infected.
- Warmth – The infected area feels warm to touch. The warmth is due to the high blood circulation in that area. The body increases the blood circulation in that area in order to heal it faster.
There are usually a few causes for a blackhead to become infected and they include:
Bacterias are the main cause for a blackhead becoming infected. When the person pops open the acne, some harmless bacteria that are present in our skin get triggered and cause the infection. The bacterial infection leads to swelling, inflammation, pain and redness in the area. If the skin in the ear canal gets irritated and a person scratches it hard, there is a big possibility that the bacteria would spread over to the other parts of the ear as well.
Popping or squeezing
Contrary to the popular belief that squeezing a blackhead cures it, this can cause it to get infected. The popping of the blackhead might lead the dirt and bacteria to get trapped in the skin. This leads to the skin becoming infected. Especially if the blackhead is squeezed with dirty hands and proper hygiene is not maintained, pus-filled bumps start forming. After the pus filled bumps are formed, if they are squeezed before maturing completely, there is a possibility of the infection spreading to the blood and the doctor might have to operate the area to treat it.
Poor hygiene is one of the main reasons for the infection of blackheads. And popping the blackhead with dirty hands might even lead them to develop infections. During the infection, if proper care of the hygiene is not taken, then the infection might turn into a different and more serious disease.
Abrasion on the skin with blackheads irritates them. When the blackheads get irritated, the bacteria around them get activated and trigger infections.
There are a number of treatments for the infected blackhead. The various types of treatments include:
- Let the body work – The human immune system is enough to heal almost all the wounds and diseases. So in the case of infected blackheads, the immune system is enough to treat them. The white blood cells are responsible for killing any type of bacteria in the skin. The only precautionary measure that should be taken is to keep the skin clean and not squeeze the swollen area. As soon as the body detects the presence of bacteria inside our skin, white blood cells help in destroying the bacteria. If the infection still pertains after a week and seems to spread, consulting a doctor is advised.
- Salicylic Acid – Salicylic acid is very helpful in corroding the blackhead plugs. This leads to the drainage of the pus. Later the salicylic acid kills the bacteria and reduces the infection. But using too much salicylic acid on the face can increase irritation and inflammation.
- Benzoyl Peroxide – Benzoyl peroxide is prescribed by many doctors as a common pimple medication. The infected blackhead is quite similar to a pimple and benzoyl peroxide has antibacterial properties. Bacteria is the main reason for the infection so it is very helpful in treating the infection.
- Antiseptic ointments – Antiseptic ointments are prescribed by the doctors to avoid any further infections that might lead to the skin getting septic. The further growth of any new organism on the vulnerable part of the skin stops and the healing process improves. The antiseptic ointments also help in reducing pain and inflammation.
- Antibiotics – In cases where the infection is more than mild, the doctor prescribes oral antibiotics to kill the bacteria present in the skin. The antibiotics are also helpful in preventing the infection spreading to the blood.
- Pore strips – The over the counter pore strips are very helpful in pulling out the plugs of the blackheads. Once the plugs are pulled out, the pus drains out itself and the healing automatically speeds up once all the fluid has drained.
Pictures of Infected Blackheads
Some of the simple home remedies that can help deal with the infected blackheads are:
- Turmeric and rose water – Turmeric has antibiotic and antiseptic properties. Mixing of one tablespoon turmeric in same amount of rose water and applying on the infected blackhead speeds up the healing process. The rose water has a cooling effect on the skin and helps in bringing down the inflammation caused by the swelling.
- Warm or cold compress – Applying a warm compress to the area helps increase the blood flow to the skin. This can also help in reducing the pain and inflammation. The cold compress not only rejuvenates the skin by decreasing the pain but also helps in keeping it moisturized. Cold tea bags can be used as a cold compress. Taking steam might also be helpful as the bacteria comes out of the pores with the sweat and the pores that have dead cell debris left gets cleaned. This reduces the chances of any further infections.
- Baking Soda – Baking soda along with water can be made into a paste and applied on the infected area. Baking soda helps pull out the pus and break the blackhead plugs. This leads to the drainage of the pus. Baking soda also has antiseptic properties so, it is very helpful in reducing the infection.