Some factors can increase the chance of developing blackheads.
Age and hormonal changes are an important factor. Like other symptoms of acne, blackheads are most common during puberty, when the change in hormone levels triggers a spike in sebum production. However, they can appear at any age. Androgen, the male sex hormone, triggers greater secretion of sebum and a higher turnover of skin cells around puberty. Both boys and girls experience higher levels of androgens during adolescence. After puberty, hormonal changes related to menstruation, pregnancy, and the use of birth control pills can also bring on blackheads in women. Overproduction of skin cells by the body can cause blackheads.
Other factors include:
- the blocking or covering pores by cosmetics and clothing
- heavy sweating
- shaving and other activities that open the hair follicles
- high humidity and grease in the immediate environment
- some health conditions, such as stress, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and – premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- medications that encourage rapid skin cell turnover
- use of some steroid-based drugs, such as corticosteroids
Contrary to popular belief, poor hygiene does not directly cause blackheads. Excessive scrubbing in an attempt to remove them can make them worse.