The Differences Between Blackheads and Whiteheads

Skin Allergies

Acne is something most people will experience in their lives. Red, unsightly, and sometimes painful, these marks wreak havoc on our complexions and leave us with scarring that could last for years. Acne comes in many different forms, and knowing how to identify them can set you up for success in treatment. These are the differences between blackheads and whiteheads—two of the most prevalent forms of breakouts.


Blackheads are the result of your pores clogging with oil, dirt, and other grime on the surface of your skin. As the pore fills, it opens up to the air and triggers a chemical reaction within. This process is oxidization, and it causes the oils to turn a dark color and give the appearance of a black needlepoint. Blackheads themselves aren’t considered a severe form of acne because they’re typically small, hard to spot, and virtually painless. Unfortunately, because the pore is open, they’re at an increased risk of becoming infected by bacteria.


Whiteheads, on the other hand, form within a pore that remains closed. While blackheads are fully exposed to their surrounding environment, whiteheads have yet to fully puncture the surface of the skin. This is the primary difference between blackheads and whiteheads and the reason why these blemishes are bubble-like in appearance. When a whitehead ruptures, it deflates and can turn into a blackhead, but if it remains filled, it can become infected and develop into a painful, inflamed pimple.

Potential Treatment Options

When it comes to treating either blackheads or whiteheads, the answer typically lies in exfoliation and cleansing. By scrubbing away the materials clogging your pores, these blemishes are less likely to get infected and cause a full-blown breakout. Finding effective ways to treat whiteheads is especially important, as this form of acne can cause lasting scarring or lead to additional skin issues down the line. Consider using products with salicylic acid to flush out your pores and stop from directly touching your face with your fingers.

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