The Difference Between Blackheads and Whiteheads? We’ve Got Answers

Whiteheads and Blackheads are caused by follicles becoming blocked.

Whiteheads and Blackheads, known singularly as comedo and collectively as comedones, are one form of acne. There are various other forms of acne including seborrhea, nodules, pustules, and papules.

While they all have different characteristics, they’re all related to the pilosebaceous unit, which consists of the shaft hair, the hair follicle, and the sebaceous gland.

This latter component of the pilosebaceous unit is the main culprit behind whiteheads and blackheads.

What are Whiteheads and Blackheads

Sebaceous glands secrete a substance called sebum into the base of hair follicles. This oily light yellow substance mixes with keratin (which gives the skin its strength, flexibility and waterproofs the skin surface).

When the hair follicle has filled with the mixture, it’s released on to the surface of the skin. This acts as nature’s natural moisturizer, keeping both the skin and hair moisturized.

Unfortunately, problems can occur. An over segregation of sebum can cause the pores to become clogged, trapping a mixture of sebum, keratin, dirt and, sometimes, bacteria inside. This causes the appearance of a bump on the surface of the skin, otherwise known as a spot.

Easy and Effective Home Remedies for Blackheads

Interestingly, during puberty, the sebaceous glands enlarge resulting in an over segregation of sebum. This is why acne is much more common in teenagers and young adults. Indeed, the enlargement, caused by a hormone called androgen, stops in a person’s early twenties. However, adults can and do still suffer from comedones.

Finally, there is a difference between a whitehead and a blackhead resulting from the size of the follicle opening. In terms of blackheads , this opening is wider than normal and the mixture (described above) makes contact with oxygen in the air and is oxidized, giving the spot their black or yellowish color.

On the other hand, the opening is microscopic when it comes to a whitehead and the mixture doesn’t make contact with oxygen in the air and, therefore, isn’t oxidized so it appears white.

Here’s a side by side image of the two:

Whiteheads left and Blackheads

Whiteheads on the left and Blackheads on the right.

Hopefully, this explanation has defined whiteheads and blackheads adequately. I’ll be adding further content on how to prevent this type of acne and effective treatment I came across to get rid of whiteheads and blackheads shortly.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below.

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