Acne Guide: Whiteheads, Blackheads, and Pimples

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If you are suffering from acne, you are not alone. In fact, acne is the most common skin condition treated in dermatology clinics around the country. Though the emergence of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads is certainly unpleasant, it is not necessarily a cause for concern: the majority of teenagers and young adults experience at least some acne problems without suffering any long-term damage. That being said, when acne becomes a source of self-consciousness or physical or mental discomfort, it is worth seeking professional skin care. There are many tried-and-true treatments available for acne, so there is no reason to suffer in silence. Moreover, some severely infected acne lesions can result in scarring or skin damage—so it is sometimes better safe than sorry! If blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples are affecting your life, you owe it to yourself to learn more about your condition and pursue treatment and/or prevention. Here is a brief guide to the most common types of acne that can get you started.

Acne is formed when the skin’s produces too much of a naturally occurring oil known as sebum. Under normal conditions, this oil helps keep our skin soft and properly hydrated. When certain hormonal processes cause the body to produce an overload of sebum (something that happens most readily during the teen and young-adult years) problems can occur. Sometimes, pores are simply unable to “keep up” with the amount of sebum being released, and they become clogged with a combination of sebum and dead skin cells. Once this has occurred, a breakout is inevitable. Such breakouts are usually classified along the following criteria:

• Whiteheads occur when the sebum and skin cells become trapped inside of a pore. They tend to be rather small. (In fact, the odds are good that you may have a whitehead or two that you can’t even see!) Despite their size, however, whiteheads are tricky: they oftentimes cannot (and, frankly, should not) be removed without the help of a professional dermatologist.

• Blackheads are also formed by cells that become trapped inside of the skin’s pores. Blackheads different color and larger size stem from the fact that all that trapped material pushes its way close to the surface of the skin, thus revealing itself more completely and oxidizing with the exposure to, well, oxygen.

• Pimples are whiteheads and blackheads that have become infected and inflamed. (Thus the redness.) Pimples must be watched with special care, as they certain infections can progress to the point of causing permanent skin damage.

If you are having trouble treating your acne, we are here to help! Schedule an appointment online with one of our providers today!

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