Whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts, and nodules are all types of acne.
It is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans yearly. It commonly occurs during puberty, when the sebaceous glands activate, but it can occur at any age. It is not dangerous, but it can leave skin scars.
The glands produce oil and are stimulated by male hormones produced by the adrenal glands in both males and females. At least 85 percent of people in the U.S. experience acne between the ages of 12 and 24 years.
Blackheads and Whiteheads
When you hear the term “blackhead” you know exactly what we are talking about, right?
When you hear the term “whitehead” you are a little less certain, but you kind of have an idea. Actually, if you are like 9 out of ten people, you are probably wrong on both counts!
Most people think a blackhead is dirt that gets embedded into your pore and makes this little black plug.
You’ve seen them, probably on your own face and maybe on other people as well. That’s what they look like, but guess what?
Like many things in life, things are not always what they appear. A blackhead is not dirt and most of them aren’t even black. A blackhead is an acne plug, a collection of dead skin cells mixed with sebum, which has gotten stuck in the opening of the pore.
The color comes from the melanin or pigment in the dead skin cells and the oxidation of the sebum at the opening. They actually range in color from a very pale tan to very dark brown, almost black.
How do dermatologists treat acne?
Today, there are many effective acne treatments. This does not mean that every acne treatment works for everyone who has acne. But it does mean that virtually every case of acne can be controlled.
People who have mild acne have a few blemishes. They may have whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and/or pustules (aka pimples). Many people can treat mild acne with products that you can buy without a prescription. A product containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid often clears the skin. This does not mean that the acne will clear overnight.
Despite the claims, acne treatment does not work overnight. At-home treatment requires 4-8 weeks to see improvement. Once acne clears, you must continue to treat the skin to prevent breakouts.
When to see a dermatologist
If you have a lot of acne, cysts, or nodules, a medicine that you can buy without a prescription may not work. If you want to see clearer skin, you should see a dermatologist. Dermatologists offer the following types of treatment:
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