Blackheads and Whiteheads | Causes & Treatment
What Are Blackheads?
A blackhead is a plug on the skin’s surface – it’s usually black or yellow in color. It is a form of acne that can be treated with effective skin care. A blackhead is a hair follicle whose opening is wider than it should be, so it gets filled with dead skin cells, dirt, and sebum. The black color is formed because of the oxidation of melanin.
The reasons for blackhead formation include excess oil, dirt or make-up on the skin. The sebum blocks the follicle and creates a blackhead. Blackheads usually form on the face, back or any part of the skin that has a lot of sebaceous glands – blackheads are created when these sebaceous glands are extra active. Blackheads may occur at any age.
What Are Whiteheads?
Whiteheads are also a type of acne – both blackheads and whiteheads are called comedones, though whiteheads are closed comedones. They contain the same material that clogs up a hair follicle in a blackhead, but the opening is very small, so melanin oxidation does not take place, and the plug stays white in color.
Get Rid of Blackheads and Whiteheads
Good, consistent skin hygiene with an acne face wash is the best way to deal with blackheads and whiteheads. Although many medications are available, care should be taken while using them, bearing skin type and sensitivities in mind.
Pore strips are a common method, but one that should be avoided, since removal is only temporary, and skin gets damaged here. People often try to squeeze their blackheads – this should be done very carefully, after washing face and hands with warm water. The blackhead or whitehead should be pressed gently out with a clean tissue.
Drugs such as Accutane, benozyl peroxide, tretinoin and topical or oral antibiotics are useful, but don’t try them without medical advice and a proper prescription. There are some forms of treatment such as phototherapy, which have proven effective. Professionals in beauty salons often use metal extractors or chemical peels with glycolic acid and often find that an acne toner works well.
Avoid the use of greasy creams and don’t scrub your skin too much, though you can gently exfoliate your skin to remove dead skin cells and prevent follicle blockage. If you use make-up, go for non-comedogenic and oil-free products, and cleanse your face thoroughly every day.
Your diet should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and plenty of water. Vitamin supplements could be helpful too. The treatment and cure of blackheads and whiteheads can take a considerable amount of time, so be patient, and you’ll be rid of your troublesome problem!