More than 50 million people a year experience acne in some form.i While breakouts are common among younger people, many adults experience acne on a persistent or cyclical basis. Whiteheads and blackheads are mild forms of acne that can occur anywhere on your face but are often concentrated in the T-Zone. Learn more about what causes whiteheads to form and how you can help care for acne-prone skin.
What are whiteheads?
Whiteheads are a type of sub-surface pre-acne that can turn into pimples, blemishes or acne. Also known as bikou bumps, they occur when a pore or hair follicle (also known as a comedone) is clogged with oil, dead skin and impurities. When these clogged pores clogged pores remain closed, these imperfections look white or light in color.ii
What causes whiteheads?
Like other forms of acne, whiteheads can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Excess Oil Production
- Lack of Sleep
- Hormonal Changes
What is the difference between whiteheads and blackheads?
Whiteheads and blackheads are both comedones that form when dirt, impurities and oil become trapped within a pore or hair follicle. When the pores are open, the impurities within the pore oxidize when exposed to air which causes the dark color of blackheads to form. Since whiteheads are closed and underneath the skin, they remain white or light in color.iii
Should you remove whiteheads?
While blackheads can be professionally extracted, you should never have whiteheads removed. Extracting these comedones can cause impurities to spread which can actually cause more whiteheads or blackheads to form. Similar to popping blemishes, extracting or picking at whiteheads can also leave a mark or dark spot.
Can whiteheads turn into acne blemishes?
Whiteheads or bikou bumps are a form of pre-acne and that can turn into blemishes when they are not properly cared for. This can happen when these blocked or clogged pores become inflamed, due to build-up of trapped impurities, dirt or oil.
Will whiteheads go away naturally?
Whiteheads respond slowly and can be persistent, but they will eventually go away on their own. The best way to care for skin prone to whiteheads or acne is to use skincare formulas that can help prevent clogged pores since treating whiteheads can be difficult once they appear.
How can you care for whiteheads on your nose?
Since the skin on your nose tends to be oilier, you may notice more whiteheads and blackheads on this part of your face as well as your forehead and chin. Whether you have a few whiteheads on your nose or spread throughout other parts of your face, start a skincare routine for acne-prone skin to help promote clearer, healthier-looking skin.
Do skincare products with Salicylic Acid help whiteheads?
Salicylic Acid is a trusted skincare ingredient for whiteheads and acne-prone skin. This beta-hydroxy acid helps reduce blemishes, promote exfoliation and can also control the amount of oil your skin produces. Look for cleansers, moisturizers and treatments with Salicylic Acid to help treat whiteheads and acne and help prevent future breakouts.
What other skincare ingredients help treat whiteheads?
Sulfur is another skincare ingredient known to help clear whiteheads, blackheads and other forms of acne. If you have a whitehead that looks like it is forming a blemish or pimple, try a spot treatment with Sulfur to help visibly diminish its appearance.
What are the best types of face wash for whiteheads?
To help clear your skin, use a face wash with Salicylic Acid uniquely formulated to care for blemish-prone skin. These formulas cleanse away impurities that can cause acne to form while helping clear existing breakouts. After cleansing, sweep on an alcohol-free toner for oily skin to help soothe and balance skin.
Should you use a facial scrub for whiteheads?
While blackheads may benefit from a facial scrub to help loosen debris and impurities clogged within the pore, a scrub should be used very carefully for whiteheads. Whiteheads cannot be scrubbed away and may even become irritated by excessive or harsh scrubs.iv
What are the best types of moisturizers for acne-prone skin?
While you may not think that hydration is key for oily, acne-prone areas, a daily moisturizer is an essential step for all skin types. Use a lightweight moisturizer and look for a formula that is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. You can also use an acne treatment lotion with Salicylic Acid to moisturize skin while also helping diminish acne breakouts.
“Skin conditions by the numbers.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2018.
ii “Acne: Overview.” Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. 2016.
iii “Different kinds of pimples.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2018.
iv “10 skin care habits that can worsen acne.” American Academy of Dermatology. 2018.