October 09, 2021 6 min read

MadeMan is committed to helping any man interested in becoming his best self. A big part of being your best is treating any blemishes — both literal and metaphoric. Because we specialize in skin care, we’ll be focusing on the literal kind. 

One of the most complained about facial blemishes is acne, and for a good reason, so many people are afflicted with the condition every day.

Acne is a skin condition that can occur on any area of the skin containing sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are glands that secrete an oily substance called sebum into the hair follicle to lubricate the skin and hair. 

On occasion, these follicles become clogged, and sometimes they are clogged in combination with other substances like dirt and dead skin. When bacterias feed on the substances clogging the follicles, they can multiply and lead to acne. 

There are several different forms of acne. Today, we will focus on whiteheads, how to treat them, and how to prevent them.

Whiteheads

Whiteheads are pimples that form when dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and bacteria become trapped in your pores, the follicle wall bulges, and the pore remains closed. Because the pore remains closed, unlike with blackheads, whiteheads can be trickier to treat.

One of the most common triggers for the production of whiteheads is hormonal changes. One of the most common acne-inducing hormonal changes in men is the increase in androgen that comes with puberty. 

Androgen is a hormone that contributes to growth in men and prompts sebaceous glands to enlarge. This consequently increases the production rate of sebum. The excess oil can lead to clogging and pimples.  

Another common cause is one’s diet. Though there is not enough substantial research to prove that adjusting one’s diet to treat acne is a successful method for eliminating whiteheads, evidence shows that adding healthy foods into your diet positively affects your body’s overall health, including the skin.

Stress is also believed to act as a catalyst for whiteheads. When you consistently feel stressed, your body will naturally increase the level of stress-related hormones being released. 

One of the internal consequences of this is that sebaceous glands will tend to produce sebum at a faster rate. Similar to the skin’s response to more androgen, this increase in oil poses a threat of more acne being formed.

As previously stated, acne has the potential to appear anywhere that there are sebaceous glands. This applies to whiteheads. Most commonly,  whiteheads will appear on the oiliest parts of your face, typically the T-zone.

The T-zone is defined as the nose, chin, and forehead. Other common spots for whiteheads to develop are your chest, back, shoulders, and arms.

Prevention

Making a few simple lifestyle changes can majorly help with preventing whiteheads. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to assess the skincare products you are using. 

As a whole, you may want to consider lightweight, water-based, non-comedogenic — meaning formulated to specifically not clog your pores — products. The goal is to avoid blockages in the hair follicles, and using products with these characteristics can help you do that.

When it comes to cleansing, avoid excessive washing to prevent irritation that can worsen your acne, and instead aim to wash your face twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Consider an additional wash after an intense workout that resulted in a lot of sweat.

As for which cleanser to use, we recommend The Resetter. This product offers a deep but gentle cleanse. Unlike most drugstore cleansers, The Resetter is not filled with harsh chemicals that leave your skin red, dry, and damaged. Instead, it is water-based and uses all-natural ingredients that are sure to provide you with a refreshing and non-irritating wash.

One of the key features of this product that makes it ideal for those hoping to prevent whiteheads is that it is designed to eliminate impurities from your pores without breaking down the skin’s moisture barrier. 

In addition to cleansing, you can consider implementing an exfoliator into your routine to help fight the buildup of dead skin cells on the epidermis.

Exfoliating is a popular method for removing dead skin cells from the outer layers of your skin. Other benefits of exfoliating include increasing blood circulation and brightening your appearance. 

There are two central methods of exfoliation called mechanical and chemical.

Mechanical exfoliation is when you use a tool to remove dead skin cells from your skin’s surface. Common tools include sponges, brushes, and gloves. Exfoliating gloves are not typically used on the face leaving you to choose between a sponge and brush. 

Chemical exfoliation is when you use chemicals instead of tools to remove dead skin cells from the epidermis by applying an exfoliating product like a scrub, toner, or tonic that contains chemicals to buff away and dissolve dead skin cells. 

Typically the main chemical component in these products is a type of acid. Normally there will either be a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) or an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid). Moisturizing the skin is also important for preventing whiteheads. This reduces the chances of any skin conditions or disorders by strengthening the skin’s barrier and can reduce the appearance of blemishes by soothing the skin. 

We encourage you to use a water-based moisturizer, like The Refresher, to limit the amount of oil added to your skin. In addition to being water-based, The Refresher uses all-natural ingredients that include chicory root, vitamin C, and Indian ginseng extract. 

The product is designed to use all these complex nutrients to restore and repair the skin. It increases collagen production, restoring the skin’s moisture balance, protecting against irritation, and preventing acne.

Treatment

The good news about treating whiteheads compared to other forms of acne is that it is not the most difficult to heal. Though complex because of the closed nature of the pore in which it clogs, it is still considered a mild form of acne compared to such forms as cystic acne.

The most successful way to treat your whiteheads is by using topical retinol.

Retinol is a type of retinoid made from vitamin A. Retinoids are multipurpose products that can be used for many different reasons, such as preventing breakouts, fading dark spots, and reducing fine lines.

The skin has an easy time absorbing retinoids. Once absorbed, the retinoids work by going deep beneath the outer layer of the skin and neutralizing free radicals. 

Free radicals are unstable molecules lacking in an electron. These molecules will attempt to steal molecules from stable molecules in an attempt to balance themselves out. When successful, these free radicals can cause damage to the skin.

As the retinol can prevent the free radicals from causing damage to your skin, it can also speed up cell turnover and promote cellular exfoliation.

The safest method for applying retinol is to do so at night. One of the symptoms of the powerful product is making the skin sensitive to light. Therefore, it is unsafe to use retinol and spend unprotected time in the sun.

If you plan to use the product both during the night and day and as a good habit for protecting your skin, make sure to wear sunscreen every day to protect yourself from sun damage.

Sunscreen contains ultraviolet filters that help to block the ultraviolet rays responsible for photoaging. Both physical and chemical sunscreens perform this same action in different ways.

Physical sunscreen uses its ingredients to block and scatter the sun’s rays before they can penetrate and damage your skin. Chemical sunscreen uses its ingredients to absorb the ultraviolet rays before they can cause any harm.

Physical sunscreen is generally believed to be the better option for going on sensitive skin, which might make it a good choice for someone struggling with acne. Nevertheless, both types have been proven to be safe and effective.

What is important, however, is that your sunscreen is broad spectrum. This assures that it is capable of fighting off both UVA and UVB rays. Apply a nickel-sized dollop of your broad-spectrum every morning, and then remember to reapply as necessary.

Conclusion

Whiteheads, or any form of acne for that matter, can be tough to figure out. There are several different reasons you may be developing acne, but there are also several different ways to treat your blemishes successfully. 

Consider consulting with a dermatologist for any questions and for help selecting solutions personalized to you and your needs.

 

Sources:

Acne vulgaris: pathogenesis, treatment, and needs assessment | PubMed

Acne and sebaceous gland function | PubMed

How to safely exfoliate at home | AAD

Sunscreens | PubMed

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