What measures to take to get rid of blackheads and whiteheads

By Skin & Hair Academy  |   January 13, 2016

Blackheads and whiteheads are tiny spots on the skin, usually caused by a plug in the hair follicles. Many women and men are always on the lookout for the best way to remove a blackhead and whiteheads. Clogged pores appear white on the surface and are called whiteheads, while open pores look black and are referred to as blackheads [1]. Both blackheads and whiteheads, also known as comedones, can stay in your skin for a long time, and look bad no matter how hard you try to hide them [2].

Read on to know about the causes and how to get rid of whiteheads and blackheads.

What exactly are blackheads and whiteheads?

Blackheads are overactive oil glands that are clogged with dead skin cells, sebum, tiny strands of hair, or sometimes bacteria. These make a plug on the skin, and when they come in contact with air and light, they become oxidized and become black. On the other hand, whiteheads are hair follicles which also become clogged in the same way, but are not big enough to become oxidized and turn black. [3]

Causes of blackheads and whiteheads

Hormonal changes, especially during menstrual cycles, puberty or pregnancy, cause the skin glands to produce extra oil, which clog the skin pores and form blackheads or whiteheads. Some skin products may also clog the pores, add oil to skin and lead to breakouts. Excessive sweating can also be a major cause of blackheads and whiteheads, especially if you spend too much time in humid environments. [4] The condition can be worsened with factors like stress, pollution, picking or squeezing at the blemishes, hard skin scrubbing etc.

How to get rid of blackheads and whiteheads

There are several scientifically proven procedures with which you can get rid of blackheads and whiteheads. Let’s talk about them:

  • Benzoyl peroxide [5]: This chemical can be availed of in the form of a cream, gel, lotion, bar or cleansing liquid. Use it once or twice in a day, as written on the label or as prescribed by the physician. Cleansing bar or liquid is used to wash the area. If you are using a benzoyl peroxide gel, cream or lotion, wash off the affected area, let it dry completely, and then apply a small amount and rub it in gently. You may notice the results in about 4 to 6 weeks of starting the treatment.

  • Resorcinol: Resorcinol is scientifically proven to breakdown blackheads and whiteheads, leaving you with a clear, healthy, glowing skin. Clean the skin thoroughly, and apply a thin layer of the product 2-3 times in a day [6]. If too much peeling or dryness occurs, reduce the application to once in a day [7]

  • Salicylic acid: Topical application of salicylic acid is known to prevent and clear skin blemishes, pimples, and also blackheads and whiteheads [8]. It is helpful in breaking down whiteheads and blackheads, and in cutting down shedding of the cells that line your hair follicles. Available in the form of a pad, wipe, cream, liquid, lotion, gel, shampoo, ointment or patch [9]. Its prescription depends on the severity of your condition and your individual response to treatment.

  • Sulfur: Sulfur is also known to be helpful in breaking down blackheads and whiteheads. It penetrates into the pores, and works by drying and clearing blackheads and pimples [8]. Clean the affected area, apply a thin layer of a sulfur based product, and wash off after 10 minutes [10].

Now that you know different ways of whiteheads and blackhead removal, remember that overdoing anything is not going to help and will only make matters worse. You can prevent whiteheads and blackheads by following a good skincare regime, taking care of your hygiene, and choosing skin products that do not make your skin oily and greasy.

References:

[1]. Blackheads: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. 2016. Blackheads: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003238.htm. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[2]. Blackheads - National Library of Medicine - PubMed Health. 2016. Blackheads - National Library of Medicine - PubMed Health. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0025361/. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[3]. Blackheads: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. 2016. Blackheads: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003238.htm. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[4]. Getting rid of those annoying blackheads and whiteheads , Read Health Articles & Blogs at TheHealthSite.com. 2016. Getting rid of those annoying blackheads and whiteheads , Read Health Articles & Blogs at TheHealthSite.com. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.thehealthsite.com/beauty/getting-rid-of-those-annoying-blackheads-and-whiteheads/#. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[5]. Benzoyl Peroxide Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information. 2016. Benzoyl Peroxide Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601026.html. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[6]. Acne fact sheet , womenshealth.gov. 2016. Acne fact sheet , womenshealth.gov. [ONLINE] Available at: http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/acne.html. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[7]. Glytone Flesh Tinted Acne Lotion. 2016. Glytone Flesh Tinted Acne Lotion. [ONLINE] Available at: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/fdaDrugXsl.cfm?setid=36f5c718-3dbd-4081-9652-73a06bd5b3df&type=display. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[8]. Questions and Answers About Acne. 2016. Questions and Answers About Acne. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Acne/. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[9]. Salicylic Acid Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information. 2016. Salicylic Acid Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a607072.html. [Accessed 07 January 2016].

[10]. De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment 10% Acne Medication. 2016. De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment 10% Acne Medication. [ONLINE] Available at: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/archives/fdaDrugInfo.cfm?archiveid=50462%20. [Accessed 07 January 2016].


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