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Blackheads On Legs: Causes, Prevention & Blackhead Removal Tips

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Just like your face, the skin of your legs has thousands of pores, which may become clogged with germs, dead skin, and debris, just like any other pores. Open comedones are the term for blocked pores. The oil inside the blocked pores oxidizes and becomes black when exposed to air, causing blackheads on legs. This condition is referred to as ‘Strawberry Legs.”

Strawberry legs can be caused by a number of different conditions, some of which overlap with one another-

  • Shaving: Strawberry legs are produced by shaved hair in the follicle that is darker than the skin around it or blocked pores and follicles where trapped material oxidizes and darkens—also known as an open comedone or a blackhead. Shaving opens up the pores and follicles of the face, allowing oils (sebum), dead skin cells, and germs to accumulate. Strawberry skin thus develops as a result of shaving.
  • Dry Skin: Dry skin, as well as skin that requires exfoliation due to an abundance of dead skin cells, is the ideal material for blocking pores. Dehydrated skin is also more prone to irritation during shaving, exacerbating the look of strawberry legs.
  • Unbreathable clothing: In hot or humid regions, wearing tight clothing that traps perspiration or having sticky leggings on after working out creates the ideal habitat for bacteria, which is wonderful at blocking pores.

Medical conditions for strawberry skin are-

  • Keratosis pilaris: Keratosis pilaris is the most common cause of red or brown spots that are accompanied by little red bumps. Excess keratin buildup in your hair follicles causes this, which is particularly frequent in those with dry skin or eczema. The majority of people who have “strawberry legs” for the rest of their lives are actually suffering from keratosis pilaris.
  • Folliculitis: If you get abrupt, acne-like lumps on your thighs or buttocks, you may have folliculitis, which is an inflammation of the hair follicle caused by friction. These little red spots feature a white-tipped bump, similar to a pimple, but they don’t impact all of your hair follicles in the same way.

Prevention is the key here but the following methods can help in the treatment-

  • Using an epilator or going for waxing can pull out the clogged pores and even prevent blackheads in the first place.
  • Moisturizing your skin thoroughly and daily
  • Exfoliating your skin on a regular basis can gently remove dead skin cells from the surface of your legs should help reduce strawberry legs, as well as, prevent ingrown hairs.
  • Using an over-the-counter (OTC) product containing salicylic acid or glycolic acid
  • Professional treatment includes permanent hair removal through electrolysis or laser therapy. 

These are just a few suggestions for preventing strawberry legs, but there are others-

  • Shave with the grain (in the direction of hair growth) with moisturizing shaving cream instead of a dull razor.
  • After exfoliating with a washcloth or a loofah, moisturize.
  • Make use of an epilator. It might be uncomfortable since the gadget rips hair out like a tweezer, but it’s a better option than shaving.
  • Shave only in the direction of hair growth.
  • Prefer epilators or waxing over regular shaving.
  • Only shave after softening your hair by using warm water or chemical softeners.
  • Don’t let debris and oil build on your legs through regular cleansing and exfoliating.
  • Never forget to keep the skin hydrated especially after shaving using high-quality moisturizers.
  • Wear sunscreen if your legs are exposed. Sun damage does not cause blackheads but can lead to sunspots that look like blackheads. 
  • Gentle Exfoliators: Accumulation of dirt, oil and sweat leads to clogged pores and blackheads in the skin. Hence gentle exfoliation of the skin with Alpha Hydroxy Acids like AHA and BHA is advised. Deconstruct Exfoliating Serum is a wonderful choice! With a potent combination of 18% AHA and 2% BHA, it can help tackle multiple skin concerns. The AHA exfoliates the dead skin cells away leaving behind a bright complexion, while the BHA unclogs the pores and purifies the skin deeply. If you are new to the exfoliators, you can try Deconstruct Beginner’s exfoliating serum as it is milder in nature and thus perfect for beginners! Probiotics in combination with Lactic Acid can help relieve a wide range of skin problems and exfoliate the skin effectively. It also contains 1% Hyaluronic Acid which keeps the skin hydrated while exfoliation.
  • Hydrating Products: Products containing Hyaluronic acid are excellent moisturizing agents. You can use a good hydrating serum like the Deconstruct Hydrating serum with 2% Hyaluronic Acid and 1% Niacinamide. This serum has a mild formula that will be well tolerated by all skin types alike. It hydrates while repairing the skin barrier. A good hydrating moisturizer like the Deconstruct NMF Hydrating Moisturizer should be used which consists of numerous moisturizing ingredients including oils to prevent dryness. Never use skin products that leave your skin dry and flaky.

Exfoliation can help prevent blackheads/ strawberry legs by softening the skin and loosening the dirt and oil that’s already in your pores, which helps prevent the dirt and oil from becoming stuck in your pores when you shave. Exfoliation can also take the form of chemical exfoliation, which accelerates the shedding of dead skin cells and reduces the likelihood of blocked pores and the formation of blackheads. Application of Salicylic acid or other AHAs and BHAs efficiently exfoliate dead skin cells, making it more difficult for pores to clog.

The black spots or ‘open comedones’ that cause the appearance of strawberry legs are hair follicles or enlarged pores that contain a trapped mixture of oil, bacteria, and dead skin. When the follicle or clogged pore is exposed after shaving, and air reaches the oil inside, it oxidizes and turns dark giving rise to blackheads, commonly known as ‘strawberry legs.’ Exfoliation is the most effective method for treating blackheads and proper shaving methods and regular moisturizing can prevent strawberry legs.

  • Is it possible to get professional (i.e. medical-grade) treatment?

Ingrown hairs can be prevented by electrolysis by pinpointing inflamed hair follicles. Laser therapy may also be beneficial, however, it will take several sessions.

  • What should I do if the situation appears to be getting worse?

Ingrown hairs and plugged pores should disappear in a few days. If they don’t, or if they start to scab or worsen, see your dermatologist for a more thorough examination.

  • Which exfoliants should I buy to treat strawberry legs?

Gentle chemical exfoliants containing AHAs and BHAs are the most effective in treating and preventing the formation of blackheads. The most popular choice is Salicyclic acid exfoliators.

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