Oily skin and blackheads are commonly encountered skin problems associated with acne. During puberty excess oil and blocked pores may form, leading to blackheads. Blackheads most commonly occur on the nose, chin, cheeks, forehead, and back- areas of high oil production.
Acne Treatments are aimed at decreasing oil production, blocking hormone inputs or exfoliating the upper layers of the skin.
Dermatologists at the Acne Specialist Clinics most often prescribe Specialist strength chemical peels, such as Beta or Alpha Hydroxy Acid peels to treat blackheads. One treatment can improve blackheads by as much as 80%.
Specialist viewpoint on managing oily skin and blackheads
Oily skin is also known as seborrhoea, and is due to both genetic and hormonal factors. Oily skin usually starts in the teens, and can be related to acne and blackheads. If left untreated, this condition improves in the mid to late 40s as oil glands start to decrease in size and number. The burden of oily skin is often underestimated, however the solutions are relatively simple. Hormonal control is the preferred choice in women, whilst the use of low dose vitamin A taken as a tablet can markedly reduce oil production in men and women. Chemical peels, such as AHA and Sal Acid can reduce blackheads and temporarily improve oil production, however I usually combine this with prescription creams containing Vitamin A. In the past few years, the use of low level laser such as OMNILUX Blue and Red light has been advocated as a treatment for oily skin and acne. As a rule, Specialist do not recommend this as first line management of oily skin or acne. The results at best are temporarily. Occasionally we do combine red and blue light with ALA, a process known as photodynamic therapy. This can reduce the number of oil glands and acne lesions. However results using the ALA and Omnilux combination are extremely variable. Most commonly we combine OMNILUX with prescription creams and occasionally tablets- this gives a far better response than light treatment itself.
Treatment of oily skin with vitamin A. Dr Davin S. Lim
Everyone needs a certain amount of oil to help moisturise the skin, however many acne prone patients produce too much oil. Sebum or oil, is produced by the sebaceous oil glands. These glands are concentrated on the face, back and chest areas, and are activated by hormones. Excess oil production most frequently occurs around puberty- the time when hormonal changes occur.
Chemical peels can markedly decrease blackheads.
Blackheads are known as open comedones. Comedones are hair follicle openings that are enlarged secondary to plugs of dead skin cells and oil.
Blackheads most commonly occur in areas of high oil production and sebaceous glands, namely the nose, forehead, cheeks, chin, neck and back.
Blackheads are not accumulation of dirt or grime, but an exaggerated process of removing dead skin cells. The black colour is due to oxidation of a pigment called melanin.
These simple solutions should be the first step in looking after oily skin.
- Wash you skin twice a day with a gentle cleanser such as Cetaphil Oily skin wash, Neutrogena Extra Gentle or QV Wash. Excessive cleaning may strip away the protective layers and cause irritation. A good cleanser is one designed to remover excess oil, whilst leaving intact a barrier of fatty acids to help maintain the function and protect the skin. An am and pm routine is best.
- Dab your face instead of scrubbing. This method is gentler on your skin.
- Avoid oil based cosmetics which may block pores. Use water based non-comedogenic make up.
- Clay of mud masks may also help, although there are no medical studies to prove they work. These treatments can temporarily pull oil from the pores and soak it up. The effects are usually temporary, leaving the oily skin fresher looking for several hours afterwards.
- Use an oil free moisturiser which is light on your skin. Oil or sebum is different compared to moisture. A moisturiser can protect your skin’s barrier function .
- Consider the use of products such as OC8 – these can help absorb oil for up to 8 hours, and decrease the shine due to excessive oil.
Dermatologists at the Acne Specialist Clinics will find an effective solution to both oily skin and blackheads. Our success rate is over 99%!
Depending on the severity of oil production, different treatments are available.
Creams for oily skin
A tailored programme using prescription creams and washes may improve excessive oil production. Specialists use a cream containing Vitamin A. Vitamin A or retinoids target the oil glands, reducing the size and oil production over time. Creams are best used in mild cases of oily skin. We endorse the use of Cetaphil cleanser for oily skin as a daily cleanser and moisturiser.
Hormonal treatments for oily skin
As oil production is related to hormones, in particular male hormones called androgens, the use of anti-hormonal medications can be successful in women who suffer for excessively oily skin. Specialists recommend the use of the pill such as Yaz, Yasmin, Estelle, Diane 35, or Juliette. We occasionally prescribe other medications such as Spironolactone or Cyperterone Acetate in higher concentrations to treat both oily skin as well as female hormonal acne.
Vitamin A tablets for oil production
Vitamin A (Roaccutane or Oratane) can provide an excellent method of treating oily skin and blackheads. This tablet markedly decreases oil production within days. Unlike Roaccutane treatment for acne, patients with excessive oil production only need to take an ultra low dosing- in many cases one or two capsules per week! This tablet is a Dermatologist only regulated prescription drug.
Chemical Peels for oily skin
Glycolic acid peels using gentle fruit acids or AHAs may reduce the look of oily skin and remove blackheads. AHAs refresh the skin’s surface, and evens outs texture. Specialsits often combine chemical peels with other treatments for optimal results.
Omnilux - Red and Blue light treatment for oily skin
Omnilux treatment using either red or blue light can be used to treat acne or oily skin. We do not recommend this as sole therapy as the effects are temporary. Specialists always combine OMNILUX with other treatments such as photodynamic therapy or creams. This gives a better cure rate than acne light phototherapy alone.
Blackheads are due to blocked pores and represent sloughed skin cells called keratin, mixed with oil (known as sebum). Blackheads most commonly occur on areas of high oil production, including the nose, forehead areas, cheeks, chin, and back area.
Blackheads are very easy to treat, however all patients should undergo both a treatment AND maintenance program.
Basic skin care entails that a simple moisturiser should be used daily, and your skin cleansed twice a day.
Chemical peels are an excellent method of treating blackheads. Depending on the extent of your blackheads, your specialist will prescribe either a Beta Hydroxy acid, or an Alpha Hydroxy acid peel. One peel can remove as much as 80% of blackheads.
Maintenance with Vitamin A cream is essential to prevent blackheads from recurring. The concentration and type of Vitamin A cream will depend on your skin sensitivity and severity of your blackheads.
In severe cases of blackheads associated with acne, your Specialist may elect to use vitamin A tablets or in female patients a form of hormonal treatment.
Laser and OMNILUX light treatments, including the use of red and blue light can be effective in treating mild acne, and in some cases decrease oil production. This treatment is only temporary and NOT recommend as a sole treatment of oily skin. OMNILUX Blue and red light can help reduce bacterial counts in the skin, but this reduction is only temporary.
Occasionally Specialist combine OMNILUX BLUE or RED with a substance called ALA. This produces a reaction known as Photodynamic Therapy. ALA is concentrated in oil glands, and this method can decrease oil production with a higher success rate compared to blue or red light therapy by itself.
In most cases, excessive oil production is genetic and hormonal and not related to diet. In some cases diets high in simple sugars, processed food groups, and high glycemic index foods flare up acne. Eating a health and well balanced diet may help control acne.
Download a diet guide endorsed by Dermatologists
YES! In fact chemical peels are the best way to treat blackheads. One chemical peels coupled with extractions can remove over 80% of blackheads in one sitting. Specialist use either a high strength Sal Acid peel or a gentle AHA peel, depending on the severity of blackheads.
We also combine a prescription Vitamin A cream to reduce blackheads from recurring. Chemical peels are associated with little or no downtime, and start from only $95
Treating and preventing blackheads is more affordable than you think!
Chemical peels using our special formulation of AHAs or Beta Hydroxy Acids (Sal Acid) start at only $95!
Prescription Vitamin A creams start at $25. In fact some creams are covered under the PBS, and cost even less.
The first step in treating blackheads is to get a consultation with our Specialist Nurse via the Acne Solutions Clinic. For $98 you get your acne assessed and blackheads treated and extracted.
For more information about Acne Solutions Clinic call 07 3871 34 37.