You open your eyes, blink the sleep out of your eyes. Today is your day. You smile to yourself, feeling good. After hopping out of bed, you twirl over to your mirror to take a look at that model-worthy face…
Then you see it. Right there in the middle of your nose is a giant zit, glaring white and red for the whole world to see. Your shoulders drop and your smile turns into a frown. Your great day has turned into a day of hiding your face with your hands and feeling embarrassed around your co-workers. What can be done?
Has this ever happened to you? What are these mysterious bumps that can ruin your day and destroy your confidence? Keep reading to get more information about skin care and how we can help your skin feel refreshed and renewed.
What are Closed Comedones?
First, we should explore: What is a zit/pimple? First, we need to understand the larger term: comedone. Comedones are skin follicles in the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, clogged up with some kind of dirt or debris, Hormones in the body can cause acne, especially androgen, a male sex hormone produced predominantly during puberty. Comedones can either be open or closed. Open comedones are called blackheads.
Since it’s open, the skin follicle is widened and the skin debris is covering up the top. In this article we’re going to focus on closed comedones, or whiteheads. In closed comedones, the skin follicle is still full and the opening is obstructed.
Both of these are common occurrences in those with acne, but they also occur in those without any kind of skin issue, even simply dirty skin. For most people, the bumps called pimples appear quickly, hang out for a bit, and then go away, but for others with more severe cases, they can leave scarring or red marks.
It is important to understand what exactly whiteheads (closed comedones) are and what to do about them so that we can avoid getting too many in the future. While most commonly found on the face, neck, and back, whiteheads can be found anywhere on the body. They appear as white/red bumps that can come in a variety of sizes. When the dirt and oil build up in pores, the collection of bacteria that starts to grow around the enclosed space causes inflammation and more redness.
How to Get Rid of Closed Comedones
There are several pore-tightening substances we can use to dry out our skin in a healthy, purifying way, some of which are lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. While I wouldn’t recommend leaving these substances on your skin for an extended period of time (no more than 20 minutes), they can reduce inflammation and smooth out the rough patches around your face.
Make sure to dilute the substances with some water for the best results. Honey is also all-around good for the body, especially local honey because of the allergens it can help combat. Its sticky texture helps it seep into pores, making it easier to flush them out.
Anything with antioxidants is most likely a good idea. Vitamin A is a great example that can be found in just about any facial cream or cleansing ointment. Tea tree oil is another home remedy that can work just as effectively, although possibly more slowly, as over the counter medications. It should only be used on the specific target area.
A recent article in Allure Magazine listed several recommendations from doctors around the country in relation to whiteheads. Most suggested that you leave cleansing solutions and moisturizers on, since it will get a deeper clean than simple scrubbing.
They recommended some of the following treatments: over the counter salicylic acid, retinoids (low strength for those with sensitive skin), and acne medicine for more severe cases of acne. The largest piece of advice they offered was to keep the face space clean without damaging it more. Moisturizing is just as important as cleaning out the pore; avoid too much dryness in the area and keep the area moisturized. Using a face mask regularly helps detox the skin, purifying those pores and keeping them refreshed.
When using over the counter creams, lotions, gels, etc., be sure to talk to your doctor first and read all of the instructions/warnings. If you ever have a concern or question, don’t hesitate to reach out to your physician for help in understanding the risks and potential effects involved.
How Do We Prevent Breakouts in the Future?
Keep your hands away from your face. This can be really hard sometimes, especially when we already have acne or other skin concerns on our face, but it’s really important. Popping the whitehead will also not prevent future breakouts – in fact, it could actually spread more of the bacteria to other areas of the face.
Non-comodogenic skin treatments (treatments that don’t clog your pores) and any other pore cleansers can help keep that bacteria and dirt away from those follicles. Don’t use too much product and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Be sure to wash your face with balanced frequency – definitely at bedtime to get all the makeup from the day off of your face, but not 10 times a day (you don’t want to dry out the skin). Just as with everything in life, balance is key.
We all know makeup is life, but consider using it more sparingly to avoid those harsh chemicals coming in contact with your skin. Instead of an oil based foundation, use a powder. Wash your face after wearing makeup for an extended period of time.
Another thing highly recommended by every skin care professional is protecting skin from the sun. Sunburn can significantly damage skin, as we already know, and it is of the utmost importance to avoid it. Some products that we use to cleanse skin can weaken our epidermis against the sun. Not only does this increase your likelihood of having clogged pores, but it can also increase your risk of skin cancer in the long term.
Lastly, be patient. Acne and skin issues don’t just go away overnight typically – they can take some time. Don’t rush into picking and scratching at problem areas, since that will only make things worse. Take your time with treatment and treat your skin like the precious organ it is.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you have a few recommendations, here are some frequently asked questions to wrap things up. People have asked these questions over time, and you may be wondering similar things. Here are some responses we’ve gathered for you to read through.
Q: Why do teenagers tend to get more acne? If I get a zit as an adult, does that mean I’m regressing to some kind of hormonal imbalance I experienced as a kid?
A: Teens tend to experience more breakouts because they have higher amounts of androgen in their hormonal system. Once things get balanced out as they get older, the hormone levels equalize and acne typically calms down. Stress, pregnancy, some foods, and certain medications could increase the likelihood of breakouts because of the hormone changes they incur in your body, so getting breakouts as an adult could be a side effect of those things.
Q: What are the demographics of people who suffer from acne?
A: People from all ages, races, genders, and walks of life experience acne and skin breakouts (whiteheads, blackheads, etc.). Acne isn’t picky – it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, you could experience whiteheads at some point in your life.
Q: Do genetics play a role in the prevalence of whiteheads?
A: Studies show that there is some correlation between your family history with acne and your own. Genetics do play a part, while we are still unsure just how large of a part they play.
Q: What kind of soap should I use to prevent acne?
A: The less fragrance there is, the higher the likelihood that it will not damage your skin. More fragrances tend to irritate skin and leave it dry, in need of more moisturizer. Milder soaps and gentler cloths help your skin stay soft and less irritated or inflamed. Don’t forget to shampoo your hair regularly as well to prevent oily hair.
Q: What do I do if I have severe acne?
A: As with any severe medical condition, I recommend that you seek advice from your doctor. If a problem persists or worsens, your local physician will have the best remedies to help you overcome the struggles that acne brings.
So, the next time you look in the mirror and see that white pimple on your face shining back at you, take a second to breathe. There are things you can do to take care of this one and fight off the ones who will try to pop up in the future. Healthy skin is happy skin!