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blackhead, yellowish or blackish plug of material accumulated in the duct of a sebaceous gland. The material consists of keratin (horny cells of the epidermis) and modified sebum (oily secretions of the sebaceous gland). Blackheads are the primary lesions in acne. Treatment is the same as for acne, with frequent cleansing of the skin followed by the application of astringent solutions. Plugs should be extracted only by a physician, since damage to the surrounding tissues occasioned by squeezing often leads to scarring.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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