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Blackheads and Whiteheads: Causes, Treatments and Removal

Blackheads are a type of acne vulgaris and also known as ‘open comedones’. These open comedones are follicles that have a wider than normal opening. Once the sebaceous glands begin producing excessive sebum; dead cells, bacteria, keratin, and dirt accumulates inside the pores ‘opening’. These blockages prevent sweat and oil from washing away and undergone a chemical reaction causing melanin oxidation. This gives the material in the follicle the typical black colour resulting in blackhead formation.

Blackheads are non-inflammatory means that they will not cause discomfort or pain and will not infected other people.

 

Related: Best Pore Strip for Blackheads

Oily skin is more prone to blackheads – caused by sebum which builds up in pores and attracts dirt (causing a visible plug which clogs hair follicles). You’ll notice a lot of these around your nose and face area because these areas have larger and more active sebaceous glands than the rest of your face. It also can be found at back, chest, neck, arms and shoulder area.

Related: Pore Strip to remove Blackhead

 

Factors that can cause blackhead formation on your skin

+ Clogged pores due to improper cleansing after using makeup/foundation.

+ Spread of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria on the skin.

+ Hormonal change that triggers excessive sebum production especially for teenagers.

+ Oily skin user that likes to use oil-based and alcohol-based skincare products.

+ Daily habit that leads to heavy sweating. Environment factor such as high humidity.

Related: Difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads

 

Skin Routine for Blackhead

There is no shortcut to get rid of blackheads, temporarily and it will likely continue to recur again. Treating and preventing acne from the inside out is a real way to get rid of blackheads for long term as it focuses on helping the body to regulate the secretions of the oil glands in turn producing less sebum.

 

Step 1: Start by washing your face at least twice a day, when you get up, before bed and after you sweat with a gentle cleanser and daily moisturizer. You want to make sure you’re removing all the makeup and dirt from your skin to start fresh each day.

+ Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash, $40

Step 2: Exfoliate all over. Use an AHAs or BHAs exfoliator once or twice per week in order to scrub away any impurities that might be clogging up your pores. It will also help remove dead skin cells, which can lead to more breakouts or blackheads (and more impurities). Common type of AHAs for exfoliation is Glycolic acid. Lastly, finish with moisturizer to lock in moisture for healthy skin. Moisturizer that contains Niacinamide (vitamin B3) and aloe-vera can help improve skin texture for more even looking skin.

+ SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, $47

+ TLC Sukari Babyfacial™ | AHA/BHA Exfoliating Face Mask, $80

Step 3: Use a toner to help regulate sebum production and keep your skin hydrated. Treat your skin with anti-bacterial serum, such as azelaic acid and salicylic acid to get rid of bacteria formation inside the pores. Salicylic acid can help break down the materials that clog pores such as dead skin cells and excess sebum. Azelaic acid can help kills microorganisms on your skin and reduces swelling.

+ First Aid Beauty’s FAB Skin Lab Resurfacing Liquid AHA 10%

+ Skinceuticals Blemish + Age Defense, $92

Related: Step to use Salicylic Acid

 

Step 4: For once or twice a week, consider to use a charcoal mask as it can work deep in the skin to draw out impurities such as dirt and sebum, from within the pores. Persistent usage of mask can help refine skin texture and fix enlarged pores concern.

+ ProActiv Skin Purifying Mask, $40

+ Herbivore Blue Tansy BHA and Enzyme Pore-Refining Mask, $48

In-house Treatment

Blackheads that stay close to the surface of your skin is more likely to go away on its own. But, some of the blackheads are embedded deep inside the skin and only special treatments with the help of a dermatologist or medical aesthetician can help remove them.

+ Round Loop Extraction

+ Microdermabrasion

+ Chemical Peels

Related: 11 best treatments to treat blackheads concern. – Masks, Scrub

 

Tips to Avoid and Treat Blackheads

1) Use non-comedogenic skincare products, which do not clog pores. For Cleanser can use water-soluble.

2) Can be used/scrubbed with Azelaic acid, salicylic acid, and Lactic acid as these ingredients can help dissolve the keratin plug that circling the blackhead.

3) Use Retinoid cream. This retinoid can prevent pores from clogged and help regulate cell turnover. For those with sensitive skin, should get advices from Dermatologist since Retinoid can dries the skin.

4) You can use toner to balance the excess sebum on the facial skin.

5) Exfoliate facial skin (mechanically or chemically) so that the attached dead skin cells are happy to date and do not clog pores.

6) Avoid these ingredients – alcohol, peppermint, menthol, lemon, lime, eucalyptus, oil-based products – because it will increase in skin oiliness.

7) Change pillowcase often.

8) Drink green tea every day since it is one of the best antioxidants to go against all those bacteria that lead to formation of blackheads.

9) Pore vacuums can help improve the appearance of pores by removing the impurities inside the pores. Use gently as it could create broken blood vessels and redness.

10) Do not self-extracting blackheads by yourself as bacteria on your fingers can spread to other part of your facial skin that can lead to infection.

 

Whiteheads

Have you ever noticed little bumps popping up on your face as tiny pimples? Maybe you call them ‘whiteheads’, but whatever you call them, these tiny blemishes can wreak havoc on your skin. It is considered a mild form of acne. Luckily, they can be easily treated and cured. So, before you get too worried or confused about where those pesky whitehead marks come from, let’s look at what exactly causes them, and what you can do about curing them.

Related: Blackhead Extraction Process

It is estimated that whiteheads make up around 20% of all pimples. They do not contain pus or blackheads, yet they are just as much of a nuisance as the latter two. Also known as ‘closed comedones’, whiteheads are basically small bumps that appear on the surface of your skin and it is a mild and non-inflammatory type of acne. They look sort of like little grains of rice, but instead of being black or dark in color, they are a dull whiteish-yellow shade. They are formed when excess oil, bacteria and dead skin cells build up on the skin surface and trapped within the pores. Clogged pores are the main cause of whiteheads.

Whiteheads can form on the back, shoulders, arms and chest area. Skin part that has more sebaceous glands can trigger more whiteheads formation especially T-zone area on your face.

 

Factors that lead to Whiteheads Formation

+ On the other hand, those who suffer from oily skin are subject to having more whiteheads. Hormonal changes and stress are thought to affect the production of sebum, therefore increasing the amount of oil that builds up the walls of your pores.

+ Hormones are also responsible for changing the structure of the epithelial basement membrane, affecting the ability of our glands to exfoliate dead cells. When this happens, our pores start to close up and block out fresh new cell growth, which causes this build-up of oils and dead skin cells in your pores.

+ Increase formation of keratin and abnormal presence of bacteria can trigger whiteheads formation too.

+ Heavy usage of beauty products such as thick moisturizers (whiteheads on chin area) and hair products (whiteheads on forehead area).

 

Skin Routine

  1. Thoroughly wash your face with a mild cleanser designed specifically to cleanse you gently while leaving behind no residue on your skin. Be consistent on your routine, with minimum twice a day cleansing, in the morning and remove makeup before going to bed.
  1. Apply toner.
  1. Use moisturizer to help regulate sebum production.
  1. Include retinoid in night time skin routine. Retinoid help prevent clogged pores, and breaking up the impurities that clogging the pores. Retinoid can make you skin a bit sensitive to sunlight so it is best to use at night.
  1. In-house treatment: If you need faster result and the whiteheads locate deep inside the skin layer, whitehead extraction can be done by dermatologist. Commonly, sterilized sharp tools will be use to push and pull the contents of whiteheads in order to decrease its size and provide instant relief.

Related: Difference between whitehead, pustules and milia seeds

 

Best Ingredients to Treat Whiteheads

+ Salicylic Acid

Derived from aspirin, it has an anti-inflammatory properties to reduce redness on the skin. Salicylic acid can help push impurities that clogging the pores towards surface of the skin and at the same time shed it away including dead skin cells. Other than that, salicylic acid can rapidly stimulate collagen and cell turnover that can lead to healthy pores opening

+ AHA

There are many types of AHAs with varying degrees of exfoliating abilities. AHAs can help remove clumps of keratin and dead skin cells from the skin. Azelaic Acid can help kills microorganism on the skin.

Related: Healthy Pores helps get rid of blackhead and whiteheads

 

Prevention

Focus on preventing future breakouts by cutting back on unnecessary habits and products. This means decreasing any ingredients with possible links to clogging your pores.

+ Choose noncomedogenic and oil-free products for your skin routine because they don’t clog pores.

+ Avoid squeezing pimples on your face.

+ Wear broad protection sunscreen to protect against UVA and UVB ray.

+ Get a healthy diet by avoiding high-sodium and high sugar food or drinks.

+ Weekly facial treatment can help provide deep cleansing and extractions to your skin.

 

Takeaway

To sum it up, the main theories suggest that whiteheads are caused by an increase in oil secretion from the sebaceous glands combined with a lack of regular cleansing of the skin. Most whiteheads will go away on their own, but it may take time. If your skincare routine does not produce expected results after four months of consistent usage, consult with a dermatologist for better recommendation on treatments or prescribe medications.

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