Video:What Are Black Heads and WhiteHeads?with Dr. Howard Goldberg
Black heads and white heads signal the early stage of acne. However, this skin condition can and should be treated early for the best result. Watch this health video from About.com to learn more about black heads and white heads.See Transcript
Transcript:What Are Black Heads and WhiteHeads?
Hi I'm Doctor Howard Goldberg from the Cosmetic Dermatology and AestheticLaser Center in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Today for About dot com I willbe having a discussion about what are black heads and white heads.
Cause of Black Heads and White Heads
In discussing black heads and white heads I would like to use the medical term as well and black heads are referred to as open comedones and whiteheads are referred to as closed comedones. And what these represent arebasically plugging of the pores of the oil gland.
When a person becomes a teenager and the oil glands are stimulated by hormones the oil gland makes more oil and a thicker oil than it was before and as a result sometimes the oil will dry up and form a plug in opening of the pore where the oil gland drains out.
Difference Between a Black Head and White Head
If this plug is open to the air, the outside air will oxidizeor chemically change the dried up oil material and turn it dark. This is somewhat analagous to an apple turning dark when it's exposed to the air. And so this is what a blackhead is, or an open comedone. If a little bit of skin grows over that dried up oil plug, then the outside air cannot get at thedried up oil material and can't turn it dark and therefore the plug thatforms is referred to as a white head, or a closed comedone.
Black Heads and White Heads Signal Acne
These comedomes are of a concern because this represents the earliest stage of acne. Oncethese comedones or plugs form the gland can't drain out and the oil backs upin the gland. The gland ultimately enlarges and breaks under the skin andcauses an inflammatory reaction and this results in the acne pimple developing.
Treating Black Heads and White Heads
To treat open comedones and closed comedones, or black heads and whiteheads, one uses various exfoliating agents that peel the skin. Such as Retinoic acid or Retin A, benzoyl peroxide, Salicylic acid or mild acidpeels. It is also possilble to use a special instrument that expresses thematerial in the comedone or the dried up material.
In the case of a closed comedone it is necessary for a dermatologist to make a tiny little nick with a fine needle in the opening of the pore to allow the material to be expressed. In the case of an open comedone it can just be expressed without doing that. And by getting the pore to be cleared out in this fashion, the oils and thebacteria can then drain freely, and that way we can try to prevent new acnepimples from forming. But obviously it's something that one would have to consult their local dermatologist to get further information on.
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