Medical Definition of Blackhead

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Blackhead: A familiar term for what is medically called an open comedo. A comedo, the primary sign of acne, consists of a widened hair follicle filled with skin debris, bacteria, and oil called sebum. A blackhead has a wide opening to the skin and is capped with a blackened mass of skin debris. In contrast, a closed comedo, commonly called a whitehead, has an obstructed opening to the skin and may rupture to cause a low-grade skin inflammatory reaction in the area.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

REFERENCE: Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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