​Blackheads v/s Whiteheads: What’s the difference

May 19, 2021
Blackhead vs whiteheads

Clear, radiant and beautiful skin is all we desire. However, unsightly blackheads and whiteheads are something that is coming in your picture-perfect skin’s way? Well, blackheads and whiteheads are something we all have dealt with at least once in our lifetime. Keep reading to know the difference between blackheads and whiteheads, how they develop, tips to get rid of them and a lot more.

What are Blackheads?

Blackheads, also known as open comedones, are tiny bumps that appear on the skin as a result of clogged hair follicles. Blackheads most commonly appear on the nose and other areas of the face. It is also seen in other parts of our body.

Causes of Blackheads

There are various reasons that may cause blackheads, some of the common ones include:

The build-up of the Propionibacterium acne bacteria on the skin causes the appearance of blackheads.

They are also a result of irritation of the hair follicles, especially when the dead skin cells do not shed on a regular basis.

When one undergoes hormonal changes, the increase in oil production during the teen years, during menstruation, or while taking birth control pills can also occur.

Taking certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, lithium or androgens can also be a cause.

The production of too much body oil can be another reason.

How do Blackheads develop?

When you have blackheads, the follicles have larger openings and are filled with sebum, keratin and dead skin cells. These materials further undergo chemical reaction resulting in melanin oxidation causing the acne to turn black.

What are Whiteheads?

Whiteheads, on the other hand, are a mild form of acne which comes up as small, round, white bumps on the surface of the skin. Whiteheads are also known as closed comedones. This type of acne ends up occurring when a pore becomes clogged with sebum, dead skin cells, and debris. If the clogged pore gets covered with a thin layer of skin, then it will appear white on the surface. The whiteheads may end up appearing on the face, shoulders, neck, chest, as well as back.

Causes of Whiteheads

There are a variety of factors that play into the growth of whiteheads, which include:

  • Excess production of sebum is the major cause of whiteheads.
  • Certain life habits like wearing tight clothes, sweating and residing in high humidity may also cause whiteheads.
  • Using certain cosmetics and facial products is one of the causes of whiteheads.
  • Changes in the levels of hormones may also cause whiteheads. The fluctuations may occur mainly due to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and consumption of oral contraceptives.
  • Other common causes of whiteheads include cleansing routines, stress, hereditary factors etc.
  • Common factors that may make whiteheads worse include certain medications, pollution, pimple popping etc.

How do Whiteheads develop?

When you have whiteheads the follicles under your skin are filled with bacteria. The follicles have a small opening, making the air difficult to pass. This causes the bacteria inside to undergo a chemical reaction, turning it white. Most commonly whiteheads appear on the face. In some cases, whiteheads also appear on the shoulders and back.

Difference between Blackheads and Whiteheads

If you have blackheads, the follicle remains open on the top part of the skin. Since the contents of the follicle are exposed to the air, the debris inside the follicle oxidizes and becomes darker in appearance. Hence it is named ‘blackhead.’ Blackheads can be treated using topical retinoids, Isolaz acne treatment, microdermabrasion, medical facials, and chemical peels.

If you have whiteheads, it means the follicle is completely clogged and is not exposed to the air. The oil and debris trapped inside the pore remain whitish in colour. Hence it is named ‘whiteheads.’ Whiteheads can be treated using benzoyl peroxide and some OTC products.

How to Prevent Whiteheads and Blackheads?

‘Avoid touching your face’ is one of the most important things you need to remember to avoid getting blackheads and whiteheads. Scratching or touching your face with dirty hands transfers the bacteria to your face, which further accumulates into your pores, leading to clogging. This may cause blackheads, whiteheads or other skin issues.

Touching or popping blackheads or whiteheads may make it worse. This may lead to more outbreaks leading to other skin issues.

To help prevent blackheads and whiteheads follow a good skincare routine based on your skin type. Use a face mask and exfoliating scrub at regular intervals to get rid of excess oil and dirt.

Tips to Remove Blackheads and Whiteheads

Below are some of the effective tips to get rid of blackheads and whiteheads.

Treatment for Blackheads

  • Use skincare products that contain salicylic acid. This helps to get rid of the excess oil on your skin.
  • One of the common medications prescribed to remove blackheads and whiteheads are topical retinoids. It works by increasing the cell turnover and flushing out clogged material from the skin. In some cases, topical retinoids can be irritating on your skin, so make sure you use topical retinoids prescribed by your dermatologist.
  • Using enzyme exfoliator is one of the effective methods to remove blackheads and whiteheads. You may use the exfoliator twice a week.
  • Use a cleanser to get rid of the dirt and oil in your pores.
  • Consume acne medications prescribed by your dermatologist.

Treatment for Whiteheads

  • Make sure you clean your face at regular intervals.
  • You may even use over-the-counter and prescription washes and ointments to treat whiteheads.
  • Use skin care products that contain benzoyl peroxide. This will help to reduce oil production in your pores.
  • As mentioned earlier, use skincare products that contain salicylic acid as it works by directly breaking down existing whiteheads.

Home Remedies to Remove Blackheads and Whitehead

Are you someone who is running short of time to book an appointment with your dermatologist? Well, you do not need to worry. There are certain ingredients available in your kitchen that will help you get rid of your blackheads and whiteheads.

Here you go!

  • Take facial steam to get rid of blackheads.
  • Using apple cider vinegar on your skin also helps to get rid of acne. But make sure you do a patch test, as apple cider vinegar can be too acidic if you have sensitive skin.
  • Using oatmeal scrub twice or thrice a week helps to get rid of blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Charcoal masks are also effective to remove blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Applying honey, sugar and olive oil mixture on the affected area once a week also helps to remove blackheads and whiteheads.

Well, blackheads and whiteheads can be frustrating. The above mentioned are some of the home remedies and tips to prevent and get rid of blackheads and whiteheads. However, if you experience a severe case of blackheads or whiteheads, it is always advised to visit a dermatologist. Most skin issues can be cured with medications and treatments. Skincare experts may also help you with a customised skincare routine based on your skin type.

Book an appointment with a Clearskin Expert today!

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