What are Whiteheads and What Causes Whiteheads to Form?
Got whiteheads? Welcome to the club. Like any sane human being, you’re probably looking for a way to get rid of these unwanted buggers. Well, the first step to doing that is understanding your enemy.
What are Whiteheads?
In order to eliminate the army of whiteheads invading your pores, the first thing you need to know is what they are. So, what exactly are whiteheads?
Whiteheads are actually a form of acne but they’re not as serious since they’re not plagued by the redness and inflammation that accompanies conditions like serious cystic acne.
So you can be grateful for that.
The bad news? Whiteheads are, in essence, clogged pores and they can be pretty tricky to get out. That’s because whiteheads are not like pustules, which are pimples with the white or yellow pus-filled heads.
Pustules may be red and inflamed but they have pus that’s close to the surface of your skin, making them easier to extract.
Whiteheads, on the other hand, are clogged beneath the surface of the skin which means they remain closed and flesh-colored, but create little bumps on the skin that can be difficult to extract.
What Causes Whiteheads?
We humans have accomplished so much and yet we don’t know the exact causes of some of the most seemingly basic things, like what causes whiteheads, or even acne, for that matter.
Although there’s no one specific cause that dermatologists can point toward, it’s generally agreed that whiteheads are formed when excess sebum (oil) clogs up the pores. In time, other debris like dead skin cells and bacteria join the pore clogging party and get trapped in the pores below the skin’s surface.
The result? Whiteheads.
There are many factors that can contribute to the formation of these whiteheads. Here are some of the most common causes:
- Hormones. Yes, there’s (almost) nothing you can do about this, especially if you’re going through puberty or another huge hormonal change like pregnancy. But it is still a possible cause of whiteheads since hormones can affect the oil production in your skin.
- Excess oil. Speaking of oil, it’s pretty much the root of all
evilwhiteheads. When your skin is producing too much oil – and too much of the wrong oil (find out the difference here!) – it makes it easy for the excess sebum to clog your pores.
- “Sticky” skin cells. People with acne-prone skin often have “stickier” skin cells that line the pores. This makes it easier for the pores to get clogged.
- Products. The stuff you put on your skin can be the culprit behind whiteheads. And it’s not always as simple as staying away from heavy, pore-clogging ingredients. Sometimes, the very products you use to clear whiteheads can make them worse. For example, using harsh, irritating ingredients that strip your skin of its natural oils can result in a backlash with your pores producing even more oil to make up for what was lost.
- Dirt, bacteria and debris. When it comes to whiteheads, exfoliation matters. Remember that what’s not cleared away can mix with excess sebum and get trapped in your pores to create more whiteheads.
What’s the Difference Between Blackheads vs Whiteheads?
Both blackheads and whiteheads are closed comedones, aka clogged pores. The only difference that separates blackheads from whiteheads is exposure to air.
Blackheads are clogged pores that have their contents exposed to air – it’s this oxidation that causes the sebum to turn dark. It’s kind of like how an apple cut in half turns brown when exposed to air…but you know, grosser.
Whiteheads, on the other hand, form under the surface of a closed pore so their contents don’t make contact with the air and thus, don’t turn dark.
Essentially, blackheads are just whiteheads that have been exposed to oxygen.
How Do You Get Rid of Whiteheads?
The solutions lie in reducing excess oil production and preventing clogged pores. The anti-solutions? Picking and clawing at whiteheads in a futile effort to extract them – that can actually push the bacteria deeper into the pores and cause inflammation.
And the last thing you want is to turn whiteheads into full-on cystic pimples. Especially since whiteheads aren’t that difficult to get rid of.
Armed with the best whitehead remover products that contains active ingredients like beta hydroxy acids and retinols, you can conquer whiteheads once and for all.