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Blackheads are a type of mild acne. Like whiteheads, they happen when a pore gets plugged by excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. This plugged pore is called a comedone.

If the comedone is closed to the surface of the skin, it’s a whitehead. If it’s exposed to the surface of the skin, it forms a blackhead.

The black color isn’t dirt. Instead, it comes from how the substances in the plugged pore react with air.

Like other forms of acne, blackheads are common on the chin. While they can occur on almost any place on the face that has hair follicles, some people may be less likely to pay attention to skin care for their chin than other parts of the face.

There are many effective ways to treat blackheads, both at home and at the doctor’s office. Read on to find out what causes blackheads on the chin, as well as ways to treat and prevent them.

The causes of blackheads on your chin are similar to the causes of other types of acne. Potential causes include:

Excess oil

Your sebaceous glands produce oil on your skin. Some people’s sebaceous glands can produce too much oil, which can make breakouts more likely.

Bacteria

In some individuals, bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes build up on the skin and cause acne. However, these bacteria typically contribute to inflammatory acne as opposed to comedonal acne (acne from comedones).

Clogged hair follicles

Dead skin cells and oil can build up and clog hair follicles. This happens when oil causes the dead skin cells to get trapped in the pore instead of rising to the skin surface and being shed.

Hormones

It’s commonly thought that acne on the chin and jaw area indicates hormonal acne. However, this idea has been called into question recently, so this type of acne may not be a factor when it comes to blackheads on the chin.

Friction

Friction on your chin, such as from the straps of a bike helmet or constant rubbing from your hand during the day, can cause blackheads. This is known as acne mechanica.

Many of the causes of blackheads are the same no matter where you have them. If you have blackheads on your chin and nose, they are most likely due to:

  • excess oil
  • clogged hair follicles

Because blackheads are a mild form of acne, they can usually be treated at home with over-the-counter (OTC) treatments.

You should give these treatments at least 8 to 12 weeks to start working, especially if using OTC Differin (a topical retinoid, which is a type of vitamin A used to prevent and unclog pores).

If you don’t start to see improvement after this time, consider seeing a doctor to get help in treating your chin blackheads.

Home remedies and OTC treatments

At-home treatment options include the following:

  • Benzoyl peroxide face wash or treatments. Benzoyl peroxide can help directly get rid of and prevent blackheads.
  • Salicylic acid. You can find many OTC products containing salicylic acid. This ingredient helps unclog pores.
  • OTC topical Differin. Because this topical retinoid works wonders for comedonal acne, it’s the first-line treatment for blackheads. This takes around 3 months to work and can also be used to prevent acne. (You shouldn’t use Differin to “spot treat” your acne.)

Shop for benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and Differin products online.

Medical treatment

If home remedies don’t clear your chin blackheads, a doctor can help. There are many options for medical treatment of blackheads, including:

  • Topical treatment. Certain topical treatments can kill bacteria, unclog pores, reduce oil on your skin, or do a combination of these three. Many prescription topical treatments have the same active ingredients as OTC treatments, but in stronger formulations. A doctor might also suggest a prescription retinoid.
  • Hormonal birth control. Some combined oral contraceptives (birth control pills) are FDA-approved for treating acne and may work just as well as antibiotics if given enough time.
  • Chemical peels. Chemical peels use repeated applications of a chemical solution to remove clogs and dead skin cells. The top layer of your skin will eventually peel off, leaving the smoother skin underneath. It’s recommended that chemical peels be done by a board-certified dermatologist.
  • Laser and light therapy. While research on the effectiveness of laser and light therapy for blackheads is limited, there is evidence that they can be helpful for some individuals with acne.

There are a few ways to prevent blackheads from appearing on your chin.

  • Gently wash your face regularly in the morning and before you go to bed. This keeps your skin healthy and free of debris that might contribute to acne. However, note that washing more than twice a day can irritate your skin and make blackheads worse.
  • Make sure your products don’t clog pores. Makeup, sunscreen, lotions, and other facial products that contain oil can lead to blackheads. Look for products that are noncomedogenic and oil-free.
  • Try to avoid touching your face or picking at acne. This can make acne worse.

Your chin is a common spot for blackheads. While they may be frustrating, they are harmless. OTC remedies will usually remove blackheads on your chin, so give those a try first.

If at-home treatments haven’t resulted in improvement after 12 weeks, consider seeing a doctor. They’ll be able to recommend prescription medical treatments to help clear up your acne.