Blackhead: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 6/9/2021

Blackheads are black or darkened areas of enlarged pores of the skin, often seen on the face in individuals affected by acne. Although they are very common in acne in teens, they may be associated with several other skin conditions as well. Blackheads are medically known as comedones (singular=comedo).

Blackheads may be associated with other skin lesions, including

A person affected by blackheads may have oily skin. Blackheads themselves do not cause significant symptoms and are not painful.

Cause of blackheads

Blackheads are caused by trapped sebum (oil) and dead skin cells in the pore, which then solidifies, leading to darkening of the surface color after exposure to air.

Other blackhead symptoms and signs

  • Cysts
  • Pimples
  • Skin Redness
  • Whiteheads


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.