Spots and Pimples, Blackheads and Whiteheads

What are Spots, Pimples, Blackheads and Whiteheads?

These are all acne related skin conditions being a disorder resulting from the action of hormones on the skin’s oil glands. (sebaceous glands) This leads to plugged pores and outbreaks of lesions commonly called pimples, spots or zits.

Blackheads have an open surface Whiteheads have a closed surface
diagram of a blackhead treatments for whiteheads

The basic acne lesion, called the comedo (KOM-e-do), is simply an enlarged and plugged hair follicle. If the plugged follicle, or comedo, stays beneath the skin, it is called a closed comedo and produces a white bump called a whitehead. A comedo that reaches the surface of the skin and opens up is called a blackhead because it looks black on the skin’s surface. This black discoloration is not due to dirt. Both whiteheads and blackheads may stay in the skin for a long time.

Treatment for Blackheads, Whiteheads, and Mild Inflammatory Acne

Doctors usually recommend an OTC (Over the counter) or prescription topical medication for people with mild signs of acne. Topical medicine is applied directly to the acne lesions or to the entire area of affected skin.

Mild Acne can be treated with Benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or sulfur these are the most common topical OTC medicines. Each works a little differently. Benzoyl peroxide is best at killing P. acnes and may reduce oil production. Resorcinol, salicylic acid, and sulfur help break down blackheads and whiteheads. Salicylic acid also helps cut down the shedding of cells lining the follicles of the oil glands.

Topical OTC medications are available in many forms, such as gel, lotion, cream, soap, or pad.

In some patients, OTC acne medicines may cause side effects such as skin irritation, burning, or redness. Some people find that the side effects lessen or go away with continued use of the medicine. Severe or prolonged side effects should be reported to the doctor.

Patients must keep in mind that it can take 8 weeks or more before they notice their skin looks and feels better so regular use of the chosen medication is more effective in treating those spots.