As with all things, we prefer prevention rather than treatment. In this particular instance, there are retinol and retinoid preventive treatments. Retinol is over the counter, while a retinoid you obtain from your dermatologist. They can exfoliate skin to prevent blackheads from forming. A blackhead is a congestion of dead skin within the pores. If you get a lot of dead skin that doesn’t slough off the surface of your body, it then gets caught in pores. The dead skin then oxidizes, which means that it is in contact with oxygen. At which point it becomes black, which is why you’ll see a black center to some of your pores.
To tackle them after they form is more of a mechanical issue. It’s really just pushing the dead skin out of the pore. One way to do that is with a facial, where we exert circumferential pressure around a pore in order to get some of that dead skin that’s oxidized out of the pore. We don’t recommend doing that with fingers, because a lot of the dead skin will be pushed further back into the dermis and create more inflammation. Comedone extractors which can be bought at a drugstore for $5 can help with this.