Like most forms of acne, yes, blackheads (sometimes called sebum plugs) can go away in time—it just takes a while given their tricky nature.
“Blackheads are a common form of acne. People with oilier skin are more likely to get blackheads, but anyone can get them. They form when pores get clogged by dead skin and excess oil,” says board-certified dermatologist Raechele Cochran Gathers, M.D. “Blackheads are often very stubborn, and while they generally do go away, it can take months or even years for them to go away on their own.”
And another caveat with acne: You can also have various degrees of severity. “Some blackheads may go away on their own, especially if they are located close to the surface of the skin. Some blackheads tunnel deep into the skin, and are unlikely to resolve on their own,” says Ife J Rodney, M.D., FAAD, founding director of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics.
The reason why they can clear up on their own—if they do at all—is because of your skin’s natural renewal cycle. Given your body is constantly creating and sloughing off skin cells, it makes sense that some of that debris will expel on its own.
“The top layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, undergoes constant renewal. These cells are replaced by new ones every 4-6 weeks. When a blackhead is located higher up in the skin, it can take about this much time to clear on its own,” says Rodney. “Whiteheads and blackheads that are deeper in the skin are less likely to clear on their own.”