The Differences in Blackheads and Whiteheads

The Differences in Blackheads and Whiteheads

Impacting at least 85% of people at some point in their lives, acne is one of the most prevalent medical conditions. If you’ve ever experienced acne, two of the most common types you’ve likely experienced are blackheads and whiteheads.

With treatment from medical aesthetician Jessica Harrison, under the guidance of Joseph Fodero, MD, PA, at Florham Park, New Jersey’s Northeastern Plastic Surgery, you can keep frustrating and unsightly acne away. Keep reading to learn about the differences between blackheads and whiteheads, and the skincare routines that target them.

What are blackheads?

Blackheads are a form of acne that results in black spots forming on your skin. It might look as if you have dirt or dark dots trapped in your skin.

You get blackheads as a result of melanin oxidation, a chemical reaction that happens when your pores fill with plugs of substances like sebum or sloughed off cells. You can get blackheads anywhere on your skin, but they’re especially common on your nose, chin, back, chest, and neck.

What are whiteheads?

Whiteheads are another type of acne, which form when only a tiny part of the molecule filled with sebum or sloughed off cells is open to the skin. This causes the pimple to form a white, not oxidized area filled with dead skin cells and oils.

Whiteheads have a raised appearance and often happen on your face, chest, neck, or back. It’s possible to pop open a whitehead to remove the oils and dead skin cells, but our team doesn’t recommend this, as it can cause permanent scarring.

The differences between blackheads and whiteheads

Blackheads and whiteheads are both forms of acne caused by plugs of substances, but only blackheads get oxidized. This means blackheads are dark in appearance and exist on the skin’s surface, while whiteheads are white and form a white head raised above your skin.

Neither type of acne is usually painful or dangerous to your health, but both might cause you to feel self-conscious about your appearance, especially if you’re prone to chronic breakouts.

Treating blackheads and whiteheads

Usually, treating blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of acne requires the same or a similar treatment protocol. Our aesthetician Jessica develops a personalized skincare routine to prevent and treat your acne.


Treatments for acne include topical medication. You can treat acne with medications like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Usually, these are available as creams or washes you can use as part of your skincare routine.

If benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid don’t treat your acne, Jessica can prescribe stronger medications like retinoids. Retinoids are a form of vitamin A that are effective in treating acne.


If you have acne that is infected, a course of antibiotics can help treat them. They can also be effective in preventing or treating blackhead-causing bacteria.


Extractions are a technique carefully performed by Jessica that removes acne. This gentle skincare service not only gets rid of your acne, it also leaves your skin healthier, glowing, and clean.


Jessica also helps you develop a skincare routine that helps resolve and prevent future blackheads and whiteheads from forming. This includes developing a cleansing routine that works for your skin type and switching to oil-free makeup and skincare products.

Acne can be frustrating and lower your self-esteem, but the good news is that it’s highly treatable. Contact our team today for help with blackheads, whiteheads, or other types of chronic acne.

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