Whiteheads are comedones, like blackheads. Whiteheads are less common, fortunately, because they are more difficult to get rid of. Whiteheads are frequently more painful and almost always infected by bacteria. Whiteheads can be painful and nearly always lead to pimples. Together with blackheads, whiteheads are the most frequent symptom of acne.

How whiteheads form

Whiteheads are comedones formed by the blockage of a pore. In the case of whiteheads, the pore that is blocked has only a microscopic opening to the surface of the skin. Air cannot reach the blockage, and therefore the darkening which gives a blackhead its characteristic color does not occur.

Blockages are caused either by excessive sebum production or irregularities in sloughing off the dead surface layers of skin.

Whiteheads which are infected by P. acnes turn into full-fledged pimples.

Prevention of whiteheads

Regular cleansing and exfoliation help to prevent whiteheads. Because they are not open to the surface of the skin like blackheads, whiteheads are not treatable with the wide variety of tools used to get rid of blackheads.

Cleansing - Regular cleansing of the skin helps to remove excess oils that can clog the pores, leading to whiteheads.

Exfoliation - Removal of the dead skin cells that build up on the surface of the skin helps to prevent blockages that lead to whiteheads. Harsh exfoliation can damage the skin, so always be gentle.

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What doesn't help get rid of whiteheads

Because whiteheads are not open to the surface of the skin, many of the same strategies that help to get rid of blackheads simply don't work for whiteheads.

Never ever pick at or squeeze a whitehead. This can not only damage the skin, but squeezing can drive the blockage and infection deeper into the skin, leading to a more serious infection. Acne scars can result from this practice. So never do it.

Pore cleansing strips - because the blockage is not on the surface of the skin, pore cleansing strips cannot strip out the blockage causing whiteheads.

Suction device - again, the blockage cannot be pulled through the skin. Suction devices can aggravate whiteheads rather than helping clear them up.

Oxidation - this process is less effective against whiteheads because the oxidizing action cannot reach the source of the blockage.

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