What Are Whiteheads and How do They Form?

behealthy January 27, 2012 0
What Are Whiteheads and How do They Form?

Whiteheads are quite often spoken of in close relation to blackheads because of certain similarities they possess in their formation. However, there are very prominent differences in the two acne vulgaris types. So what are whiteheads and what is the best way to treat them?

What Are Whiteheads?

A whitehead may also be known as a closed come do. They are raised bumps in the skin formed from trapped oil, bacteria and skin cells beneath the skin. What causes whiteheads is the same complication that causes blackheads. The body may produce excessive dead skin cells and a natural oil called sebum. Whilst the lack of these procedures would cause problems for a person, equally, too much of them can be problematic. The extra skin cells and oil can form a plug in the opening of the skin known as the pore. As skin cells continue to be shed they can form a thin layer over the top of the pore, sealing it completely.

blackhead and whitehead

This forces the sebum to pool behind the blockage and eventually the tissue may burst allowing the oil to rush towards the layer of dead skin, thus forming a white pimple. This process is similar to a river bursting its banks after heavy rainfall whereas the development of a blackhead could be likened to a tap which has not quite been shut off properly and drips slowly.

Whiteheads are often small in size and can be located anywhere where there is a follicle, but tend to appear more predominantly on the face around the eye and chin area. The reason the closed comedones remain white is that they do not undertake oxidisation process as the blackheads do, because the layer of dead skin cells acts as an impenetrable barrier for the oxygen to get through. The whitehead is mostly painless compared to other lesions. It is possible to pop a whitehead but it should be done with the utmost care as a mistake in the procedure could cause infection to enter the follicle and transform the relatively harmless whitehead into a more troublesome pustule. A trip to the doctor is advisable before trying anything at home, just to be sure.

Seeing a Skin Specialist

what causes whiteheadsIf there are many whiteheads or other lesions, the best option would be to see a skin specialist in order to gain the best advice on how to deal with that particular presentation of the disorder. Before giving out a prescription of any kind, the G.P or dermatologist will consider many factors. They will look at the age of the patient. It is common for teenagers of both sexes to experience acne as their bodies hit puberty and certain male hormones become unbalanced. Sometimes this can be treated with antibiotics which are able to work to restore the balance in hormones and act as an antioxidant to aid the body in the disposal of impurities.

Dermatologists may also use an extraction tool on the patient, immediately clearing the problem areas but this is not often a stand-alone treatment, advice on the best facial washes, scrubs and moisturisers will be given to try and keep further outbreaks to a minimum. The most commonly used tool is a small pencil sized metal object. At one end there is a sharp point. This is used to pierce a hole in the centre of the skin where the head of the lesion is located. The purpose of the hole is to provide an exit route for the collective oil and skin cells beneath the surface. Once this has been done, the other end of the extractor tool which is rounded with a small hole in the middle is placed over the piercing that has just been made. Light pressure is put on the skin via the tip of the tool. Because of the circular shape of the tip, the pressure around the whitehead is placed evenly. As the skin is pushed down, the sebum and other debris contained within it oozes out of the hole provided. This tool and variations of it can be bought for use in the home although they come with a warning. Overuse of such items can actually act to cause damage to the skin in the future.

Skin Management Systems

A favoured resolution for the symptoms of acne, are skin management systems with natural ingredients. These may not remove the spots and pimples all at once, but they work at decreasing the effects and likelihood of unsightly and embarrassing blemishes in the future. The vast majority of face washes and such that are able to boast success in this department are ones that recognise the most common elements in acne before reducing them or eradicating them completely. More often than not, the general process for these treatments consists of cleansing the affected area with antibacterial ingredients.

Exfoliation also helps to remove the clogging skin cells and generate the growth of new, healthy skin. This is often followed up by a lotion to protect the skin from bacteria in the environment and absorb some of the oil produced. The best results though, often come from the companies that provide supplements for the body. These tend to be made with all natural ingredients to try to ensure complete lack of side-effects. Many use Liquorice root, Vitamin E and other natural antioxidants to assist the body in its natural flushing of the system. Natural anti-inflammatory’s are used to improve the redness that accompanies some of the spots on the face.


Everybody’s skin is different to the next persons and as such, what works for one person, may not necessarily be true for another. Thankfully there is an abundance of information on the internet these days about such matters with people writing reviews or blogs all the time. Still, special consideration must be used when considering a remedy for acne as there are many questions un-answered and no actual cure for acne, simply ways with which to manage it.

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