Blackheads and whiteheads

Blackheads and whiteheads

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Skin Issues: blackheads and whiteheads

What are blackheads and whiteheads?

‘A comedo is a clogged hair follicle (pore) in the skin. Keratin (sloughed skin debris) combines with oil to block the follicle. A comedo can be open (blackhead) or closed by skin (whitehead), and occur with or without acne. The word comedo comes from Latin, to suggest the worm-like look of a blackhead that has been secreted. The plural of comedo is comedones.’
The dark coloring of blackheads is not caused by dirt trapped in the pores or follicles. Instead it is due to oxidation from exposure to the air.
Blackheads and whiteheads can be removed by a variety of methods, ranging from at-home treatments to sophisticated cosmetic therapies.

About pimples

Acne and pimples are closely related. Pimples are comedones that have become inflamed and which have turned into papules or pustules.
Papules are delineated, firm skin bumps, containing no visible fluid and varying in size from a pinhead to 0.4 inches (1 cm) in diameter. They can be brown, purple, pink or red in color.
Pustules are similar small bumps on the epidermis, but filled with fluid or pus caused by infection. The infection is not chronic, as it is with acne.

About milia and sebaceous filaments

Comedones are distinct from sebaceous filaments, which are miniscule collections of sebum and dead skin cells around hair follicles, and which usually look like small hair-like strands.
Milia is the term for tiny, hard, white bumps that can appear — usually on the face — on anyone of any age, including babies, teens, and adults. They are neither whiteheads nor pimples. These annoying yet harmless lumps usually resolve themselves, but they may last for weeks, months or even years.

How can blackheads and whiteheads be removed?

In Book 1: Face and Skin you can find out about:

  • Minimally-invasive treatments for blackheads and whiteheads
  • Non-surgical treatments for blackheads and whiteheads
  • At-home treatments for blackheads and whiteheads

A step by step guide to blackhead and whitehead removal at home can be found in ‘Beauty: The Ultimate Cosmetic Makeover Guide.  Book 1: Face and Skin.’

Note: Do your blackhead and whitehead removal in the evening, so that the skin has some time to recover overnight.

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