Q&A: Whiteheads Vs. Blackheads, What’s the Difference?

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Whiteheads vs. Blackheads

Q. What are blackheads?

A. Also known as open comedones, blackheads are widened hair follicles plugged with keratin squamae (dead skin buildup), oil, and sebum. Despite their name, this type of acne can actually range anywhere from yellowish to a dark, grey-brown in color and appear as small dark spots on the skin. Blackheads are most common during puberty when oil production is at an all-time high, and continue to be prevalent in those with combination/oily or very oily skin types. Because they form before bacteria have the chance to enter and fester within the pores, blackheads can develop into a pimple (a papule or pustule) prior to inflammation and is thus said to be the first stage in acne breakouts.

Blackheads are not a sign of dirtiness or poor personal hygiene, contrary to popular belief. Their dark color is actually a simple chemical reaction that occurs; when the buildup comes in contact with oxygen, it oxidizes into a dark plug.

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Q. What are whiteheads?

A. Whiteheads, also known as closed comedones, are a type of non-inflammatory acne. Like blackheads, whiteheads are the result of clogged pores. Excess sebum trapped within hair follicle by a layer of dead skin cell buildup, so rather than oxidizing into a darkened plug (a blackhead), it forms into a small, white, pus-filled bump. If a whitehead becomes inflamed, it can easily turn into another more severe form of acne.

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