Blackheads on Nose: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment Options (2024)

Blackheads, also called open comedones, are a type of acne. They are flat and—unlike pimples—are not swollen or painful. They usually appear on the face, especially the nose, and are often so small you can't see them. Blocked pores cause blackheads.

Because they are so small and flush with the skin, they can sometimes be difficult to see or eliminate. But many remedies can prevent and treat blackheads, including exfoliation (removal of dead skin cells) and topical (used on the skin) over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription treatments.

This article explains blackhead causes, treatment, and prevention. It also covers which treatments to avoid and when to see a healthcare provider.

Blackheads on Nose: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment Options (1)

What Causes Blackheads on Your Nose?

Pores are tiny openings in your skin where oil and sweat escape from their glands beneath the surface. Clogged pores lead to blackheads, but what causes your pores to get clogged?

When pores function optimally, they allow oil or sweat to reach the surface to lubricate or cool your skin. Sometimes, these pores can become clogged with oil and dead skin cells.

Things that can lead to clogged pores include:

  • Hormonal fluctuations during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause
  • Poor skin care habits
  • Genetic predisposition

Hormonal fluctuations can cause your glands to produce excess oil, which makes your pores more likely to get clogged. In addition, not washing your face regularly or not exfoliating can allow dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria to build up on your skin and in your pores. Finally, if a parent was prone to blackheads, you may be too.

How to Get Rid of Blackheads on Your Nose

Fortunately, there are plenty of remedies for blackheads on your nose, including at-home remedies, OTC therapies, and prescription medications.

Home Remedies

Proven scientific evidence has generally not supported the effectiveness of home remedies. Even so, some people like to try them first because they are convenient and inexpensive. Some popular home remedies for blackheads include:

  • Green tea
  • Oil cleansing
  • Charcoal masks
  • Skin steaming
  • Exfoliation

Some use green tea topically as a home remedy for acne, including blackheads. However, like with most home remedies, there isn't much evidence to support its use for treating blackheads.

That said, a 2022 systematic review of clinical studies suggests that green tea's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive (lowers cancer risk), and immunomodulatory (changes the immune system) properties may be good for skin conditions.

You can purchase oils, creams, gels, and lotions containing green tea for topical application. Or you can make your own by steeping green tea and combining the tea leaves with another agent like honey.

Oil cleansing is another home remedy for blackheads. Proponents say it works by softening and removing the built-up oil in the pores. Unfortunately, there isn't evidence to support this method. If you want to try it, rub a mild carrier oil, like jojoba or almond oil, into your skin, then rinse with water and a washcloth.

Charcoal masks harden after application, and then you peel them off. They are a popular blackhead home remedy because they peel away dead skin cells and can sometimes unclog pores. A 2019 study found that charcoal masks worked to enlarge pores, remove dead skin cells, and clean the skin.

Steaming your skin is a way to open up pores to remove blackheads. You can purchase a steamer for this purpose, but you can also do it without a gadget. You can steam over a bowl of hot water or use warm, wet towels on your face. Just be careful not to burn yourself with any of these methods.

Exfoliation is a process for removing dead skin cells. You can use abrasive scrubs or a rough cleansing pad to do the job. However, if you are getting treated for acne, discuss it with your healthcare provider to ensure your methods are appropriate.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Treatments

You can find plenty of products for mild acne, including blackheads, at a drug store or online. These products usually contain one of the following active ingredients:

  • Adapalene (a retinoid that promotes exfoliation and new skin cell generation)
  • Azelaic acid (a medication that fights skin bacteria)
  • Benzoyl peroxide (an antiseptic)
  • Salicylic acid (an exfoliant)

Most people can treat their blackheads at home. But if you don't see results after six to eight weeks, you might want to see a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin disorders). You should see fewer breakouts in one to two months and clear skin by four months.

What About Pore Strips?

Pore strips are adhesives that you press onto your skin to remove blackheads. They can cause irritation and redness, especially for sensitive skin. But a significant reason to avoid them is they can only pull out the very top of a blackhead at most, leaving the rest buried deep in your pore. For that reason, the preceding OTC treatments are more effective.

Professional Treatments

A dermatologist may recommend stronger treatments if at-home remedies and OTC products do not clear your blackheads. Professional treatments for blackheads include:

  • Prescription-strength retinoids and azelaic acid
  • Blackhead extraction (performed by an aesthetician during a facial)
  • Microdermabrasion (a procedure that removes the top layer of skin)

More potent prescription topicals often work, but blackhead extraction or microdermabrasion may help if they don't. The latter uses a wand to sand your skin, removing its thicker outer layer. Microdermabrasion has many aesthetic benefits, including treating acne and acne scars.

Should You Squeeze Blackheads on Your Nose?

Squeezing acne, including a blackhead, is a bad idea. If you try it on your own, you run the risk of the following:

  • Permanent scars
  • More notable acne
  • More painful acne
  • Infection

That said, a dermatologist can safely remove a blackhead, but it won't likely be by "popping" it. Instead, they will use a sterile instrument to extract the blemish.

Is Popping Pimples Bad for Your Skin?

Blackhead Treatments to Avoid

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends avoiding the following when treating acne:

  • Trying out a new treatment every week
  • Spot treating
  • Washing your face too frequently
  • Drying out your skin
  • Scrubbing your skin too hard or often
  • Popping acne

Remember, treatments for blackheads take time to work. So, stick to a treatment for the recommended length of time (usually six to eight weeks) before switching to something different.

How to Prevent Blackheads on Nose

Preventing blackheads involves keeping the skin clean and reducing the likelihood of clogged pores. Some tips for avoiding blackheads on the nose include:

  • Wash your face one to two times a day with a mild cleanser.
  • Use alcohol-free products to avoid drying out your skin.
  • Keep your hands off your face to prevent introducing germs on the skin.
  • Avoid ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and tanning beds by staying in the shade, wearing a hat, and applying sunscreen.

The best thing you can do to prevent blackheads is to maintain a consistent skin care regimen that keeps your skin clean and moisturized.

When to See a Dermatologist

When your at-home remedies and OTC treatments are ineffective, it's time to see a dermatologist. They may prescribe more potent medication or offer extraction or professional exfoliation in their office. Never attempt these procedures at home because they can result in scarring, infection, and pain.


Clogged pores cause blackheads on the nose. You can prevent them by maintaining a good skin care routine. When they do appear, you can eliminate them with exfoliation, OTC and prescription medications, and in-office procedures. Treatment typically takes six to eight weeks, so have patience and avoid trying to pop blackheads on your own at home.

Blackheads on Nose: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment Options (2024)


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