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.
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‘Lipid’ is the scientific term for fats or oils. Lipids are organic molecules (i.e. carbon-containing molecules derived from living or once living organisms) that are defined by their solubility. They are (relatively) insoluble in water and other ‘polar’ solvents, and soluble in ‘nonpolar’ liquids, such as ether or chloroform. Cholesterol, triglycerides and fatty acids are examples of lipids.
Fatty acids are a class of lipids (or fats) that consist of a hydrocarbon chain terminating at one end in an acidic, carboxyl group. In the body, they are often bound (‘esterified’) to other molecules to form ‘complex’ lipids, like phospholipids and triglycerides. In the stratum corneum, unbound or ‘free’ fatty acids are one of the 3 key classes of lipids that form the lamellar membranes of the stratum corneum. The other two are cholesterol and ceramides. Ceramides are another type of complex lipid which possess esterified fatty acids. [Read more…] about What Is a Fatty Acid?