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Acne - Blackheads & Whiteheads

Blackhead & Whitehead Basic Information

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Updated April 02, 2014

Acne is the most common skin disease treated by physicians. It is a chronic condition that affects over 85% of adolescents and young adults. One study showed that two-thirds of teenagers with acne wanted to talk to their physician about their acne, but only one-third actually did.

Types of Acne

Not all acne is the same. Simplistically, acne can be divided into red bumps and blackheads/whiteheads. This division is important because each type is treated differently. Blackheads and whiteheads, known as comedones, can be more numerous on the face and shoulders than red bumps filled with pus. Good, consistent skin hygiene can help improve this condition. Therefore, knowing more about what causes comedones and how to treat them is a step towards clearer skin.

Why Does Acne Occur?

This article walks through step-by-step how acne is formed.

Blackheads

Blackheads, also known as open comedones, are follicles that have a wider than normal opening. They are filled with plugs of sebum and sloughed-off cells and have undergone a chemical reaction resulting in the oxidation of melanin. This gives the material in the follicle the typical black color.

Whiteheads

Whiteheads, also known as closed comedones, are follicles that are filled with the same material, but have only a microscopic opening to the skin surface. Since the air cannot reach the follicle, the material is not oxidized, and remains white.

Skin Care for Blackheads and Whiteheads

The key to skin care for acne is consistency. An overnight cure has not been found. But using good skin care methods aids in the daily, steady improvement of follicle health. Since acne is not caused by eating certain foods, restricting the diet is not helpful. Since it is also not caused by "dirty" skin, excessively scrubbing does not help and can even make the skin more irritated.

The best skin care for comedones consists of once-a-day cleansing with a mild soap or facial scrub to aid in the removal of excess sebum and dead skin cells. Oil-based makeup should not be used since these can contribute to the buildup of oil in the follicles. Water-based makeup labeled as non-comedogenic can be used safely.

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