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Skin Problems: Whiteheads

Skin Problems: Whiteheads Skin Problems: Whiteheads Skin Problems: Whiteheads


Even if you don't recognize the name, chances are you recognize the characteristic white-centered pimples known as whiteheads when you see them. Acne comes in many forms, and whiteheads are one of the most common. In fact, whiteheads are synonymous with acne for many people.


When your hair follicle gets clogged with oil or dirt, it forms a bump on the skin called a comedome. As long as the clog stays below the surface of the skin, it creates a white, raised bump called a closed comedome--more commonly known as a whitehead. Blackheads, or open comedomes, occur when a clog rises to the skin's surface and turns dark through contact with the air.


Whiteheads are a form of acne, a common skin disease that can take a toll on self confidence and body image, according to the National Women's Health Information Center at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ongoing acne can also lead to depression and low self-esteem.


Whiteheads are most common in people around puberty, where their occurrence is linked to fluctuating hormone levels, but whiteheads can appear at any time--according to the National Women's Health Information Center, some people get acne, including whiteheads, for the first time in their 30s. Young men may be more likely to get whiteheads than young women because boys tend to have more oil in their skin, according to


Washing the skin with a gentle cleanser every day can help prevent whiteheads from forming. When whiteheads appear, people can try an over-the-counter cleaner or spot treatment containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to help clear up their skin. If whiteheads persist for more than a few months, people can make an appointment with a dermatologist who can recommend prescription oral or topical treatments to get rid of whiteheads. People should never pick at whiteheads or else an infection could occur, which may cause scarring and more breakouts.


Though many people believe that poor hygiene and greasy or fatty foods can cause whiteheads, research doesn't support those claims, according to the National Women's Health Information Center. In fact, scrubbing normal skin too hard can actually cause whiteheads and worsen any whiteheads already there.

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