Blackheads bear no relationship to your personal hygiene. They result from the oxidation of sebum (the oily material produced by sebaceous glands) and keratinous material (outer skin cells) that fills the dilated pores with exposure to the air. Regular use of a scrub cleanser can help to reduce the size and numbers of blackheads by removing some of the follicular plugs. But more importantly, blackheads are usually an early warning sign of acne. Treatment of acne at this stage – when the pores are plugged and forming blackheads (‘open comedones’) and small flesh-colored bumps (‘closed comedones’) – can prevent the later development of pimples (‘inflammatory papules and pustules’). If you have more than a few blackheads, you probably need to make an appointment with your dermatologist.