Blackheads Vs Whiteheads – What Exactly Is The Difference?
Are you dealing with the ever problematic skin condition—blackheads and white heads? Do you wish to find a way to get rid of it? Before you do that, you need to know a few more things about these skin problems first! Here are some of the information that you need to know:
1. Blackheads Vs Whiteheads: What are they?
Both blackheads and whiteheads are bumps on the skin due to the blockage of hair follicles with dead skin or dirt and sebum, or the oily substance produced by our sebaceous glands.
They are both associated with pimples and acne, but they can appear without the usual accompanying signs of acne.
2. Symptoms And Causes Of Blackheads And Whiteheads
As for the symptoms, whiteheads are hard, tiny, white to yellowish bump known medically as closed comedones. Whiteheads are caused by many factors including some products, skin type and chemistry, and genes.
Blackheads, on the other hand, are dark lesions which appear as black dots protruding from the follicles or pores, thus the term blackheads. They are technically called open comedones and usually appear on the nose, back, cheeks, chest, neck, shoulders, or even the ears.
People with oily skin and those undergoing hormonal changes such as during pregnancy or puberty are more prone to having blackheads. They are often associated with mild acne, but that’s not always the case.
Blackheads or whiteheads are non-inflammatory, meaning, they are not infections. They are also not painful like pustules and pimples. They are somehow raised from the skin, but are generally less obvious and flatter that pimples.
Many factors can increase your risk of developing whiteheads and blackheads. Based on these, the position and appearance can also differ. Here are the most common causes of whiteheads and blackheads.
Age And Hormones
The main reason why age affects the frequency or tendency to develop whiteheads and blackheads are hormonal changes. Similar to acne, people who are undergoing puberty are more likely to develop blackheads and whiteheads.
This is due to the overproduction of sebum, triggered by hormonal changes. However, these can also happen regardless of age.
The male sex hormone androgen activates over secretion of sebum and a high skin cell turnover rate around puberty in both males and females.
For post-adolescent girls, the majority of hormonal changes are due to menstruation, birth control pills, and pregnancy. This also causes increased rates of sebum and skin cell production.
Some Other Contributing Factors Are:
- Cosmetics and clothes that cause blockage of pores
- Heavy sweating
- Activities that expose the hair follicles, such as shaving
- High amount of grease and humidity in the environment
- Exposure to pollution and smoking
- Several health conditions that directly affect hormone balance like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), stress, and premenstrual syndrome of PMS.
- Some medical drugs also trigger faster skin turnover
- Taking some steroid-based drugs like corticosteroids
So yes, unlike what many of us believe, poor hygiene is not a direct cause of blackheads or whiteheads. In fact, scrubbing too much or cleaning way too often can make them worse. This dries out the skin, encouraging extra sebum production. This then leads to blockage of pore or follicle.
3. How Are Blackheads Different From Whiteheads?
Now that you know all that, let’s get right to the main topic: what really is the difference between blackheads and whiteheads?
First, as I’ve already mentioned, whiteheads are closed comedones while blackheads are open comedones. This is what makes their appearance very different, especially when it comes to color.
With whiteheads, the bacteria, dirt and sebum-filled follicle have a very tiny opening at the skin surface. Because of this, it has no direct contact with air, and no chemical reaction takes place, so it maintains its white color. They usually appear on the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead.
Blackheads, on the other hand, appear when the follicles or pores filled with sebum and dead skin have large openings. This exposes the substance sebum to air, initiating a chemical reaction under the skin.
Melanin, the pigment that gives color to the skin, becomes oxidized and gives the clogged pores a dark or black color. These are usually found on the shoulders, back and face.
4. Blackheads Vs Whiteheads: Tips To Prevent And Remove Them
Removing or preventing blackheads and whiteheads can take so much more than regularly washing your face, but this helps too. Here are some tips on how to get rid of them.
- Exfoliation with salicylic acid once to thrice per week will help get rid of blackheads. They are closer to the surface than whiteheads, so can be removed more easily through this substance that can get into pores.
- Consult your dermatologist about a beta hydroxy acid or BHA peel, which is stronger than salicylic acid, in case that doesn’t work.
- Avoid pore strips and scrubs, since they only scrape off the top part of blackheads. Therefore, they leave most of the gunk, dirt, and sebum in your pores, which leads to another blackhead not long after.
- Whiteheads can also be removed through exfoliants with salicylic acid. These work for cleaning out the pores.
- If that fails, you can have a dermatologist professionally extract them.
To Prevent Blackheads And Whiteheads From Developing In The First Place, Follow These Tips:
- Clean your face twice daily with water only or using a mild soap
- Over-the-counter products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help remove excess oil
- Oil-free make ups and other products are less likely to plug your pores
- Always remove makeup and wash your face before sleeping
- Try to keep your hair away from your face to avoid irritation and products clogging your pores.
- Avoid touching your face as this can cause dirt and bacterial contamination
- Don’t pop or pick at pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads as this will expose your skin from more bacteria. This can cause scarring, irritation, or infection.
- Eat healthily and stay hydrated.
Product Suggestion For Blackheads And Whiteheads
For clearing breakouts quickly and removing blemishes, try Rejuvoderm by Solvaderm. It is a dermatologist-developed spot treatment with ingredients that penetrate deep into your pores to remove impurities and dirt.
Blackheads and white heads are not forever! You can get rid of them. Just follow the tips that we have mentioned above!
“Hope you find the post helpful and we are excited to hear what you think of it!”
Below you’ll find some of the most effective exfoliators on the market in our opinion: