We all have experienced those annoying little Black Heads & White Heads on our skin. In this week’s blog we are going to look at the difference between white and black heads, why they occur, how to treat them and how we can prevent them!
What are Black Heads and White Heads?
These minor skin imperfections are explained scientifically as “clogged pores”, where skin debris and bacteria combine with oil to block the the skins pores. They are nothing major to worry about, but black and white heads still can occur fairly regularly and can be pesky little things.
What is the difference between them?
Both black heads and white heads are classed as clogged pores, but the reason they are different colours is down to the opening of the pore. Let’s go into a little more detail.
Black heads: A black head is also known as an “open comedone”. This means the part of the pore at the surface of the skin is stretched and open.
The black coloured head is a collection of dead skin cells, bacteria and oil (known as Sebum) stuck in the pore. Because the pore is open, the top part of the sebum build-up is exposed to air, causing a chemical reaction, resulting in the oxidation of melanin. This gives the material in the follicle its black colour.
White heads: A white head is also a clogged pore, except, unlike a black head, the top of the pore is not stretched open, exposing the clogged portion. This is known as a “closed comedone”
The pore is still clogged, but the surface of the pore is closed so dermatologists call this a “closed comedone”. Since the air cannot reach the follicle, the sebum is not oxidized, and therefore remains white.
Effectively, they are exactly the same build-up of nasty stuff, they just present themselves differently depending on the pore opening being open or closed, and if they have been exposed to the air.
What treatments are the best?
Firstly, What Not To Do.
Whatever you do, don’t squeeze them! Squeezing either one of these may seem satisfying in the moment, but is a bad idea in the long run. Over time, repeatedly squeezing black heads or white heads only makes pores larger and larger, meaning potentially larger and more persistent skin issues.
Other suggested treatments like restricting your diet, or excessive scrubbing are also ill advised and do not work, they can also cause a lot more harm than good, so it is advised to avoid any of these methods.
The key to good skin care is consistency, an overnight cure for mild acne has not been found. But using good skin care methods can aid in the daily, steady improvement of your skin’s health, helping to prevent black and white heads.
One of the best things you can do is to make sure you wash your face regularly, with a gentle soap or face wash. Look for face washes that contain salicylic acid or lipohydroxy acid, which both help to capture and remove dirt from your skin and pores. Try to wash your face 2 times a day, once in the morning and once before bed.
Another good tip is to try, where possible, to avoid oil-based make-up, since this can contribute to the build-up of oil in the pores, you can safely use water-based makeup which helps you avoid this build-up of oil.