Pimples with white heads - why do I get them? And how do I get rid of them?


Whiteheads are possibly one of the first things you think of when you think of spots, but what are they? Why do we get whiteheads and how do they differ from blackheads? We’ll go through the reasons for getting the different types of spots and the most effective ways to get rid of them.

Pimples with white heads

Why do I get whiteheads?

Whiteheads are technically referred to as “closed comedones”.  They form when excess oil (sebum), dead skin cells, and bacteria become trapped deep beneath your skin causing it to swell up and create a spot, with the sebum mixture (white pus) in the center of it all. 

The cause of pimples with white heads is the same as why we get blackheads - excess sebum. So why are they white instead of black? In both spot types this mixture of sebum, skin cells and bacteria combine to make a white pus that you see in whiteheads. The difference is (contrary to the very popular and very frustrating myth that blackheads are formed from DIRT) that whiteheads are deeper below the surface and don’t get contact with the air. It’s the air that in the case of blackheads oxidises the pus and turns it black. In fact if you’ve ever seen a spot being popped, you’ll notice that whiteheads are more liquid, whilst blackheads are smaller, tougher and granular and that in the case of blackheads only the tip of the blackhead is actually black. As you squeeze the blackhead its followed by white pus. (more on squeezing and why you shouldn't do it below).

blackheads on nose

Who gets white heads?

30% of adults over the age of 18 suffer from a form of acne and 80% of teenagers get acne. So who gets them. Almost everyone!

Are men more likely to get white heads?

It depends. As teenagers men have a 80-95% of suffering from acne vs 72-82% of women. But as we enter our 20s the stats start to turn the other way. By the time we enter our 40s you are twice as likely to suffer from acne as a women rather than man.

Should I pop my whitehead?

We know how tempting AND satisfying it is to pop pimples with white heads. If you are lucky enough not to have made it look really angry, you might feel you've done the right thing by reducing them in size and appearance by quickly popping. But it’s so important to never pop them! When you do this you not only have the risk of introducing new bacteria into the opening in your skin, but you spread the bacteria that was in the pimples over your skin which can lead to more outbreaks across the rest of your face. And If you still aren’t convinced, just know that picking at acne can also lead to scars (sometimes lifelong), potential discoloration or red, irritated and painful skin. In fact acne scaring is so common with our customers that its our skincare teams biggest query after how to get rid of acne! That why the second product we created after our acne supplement  was an acne scar serum that helps restore skin and remove acne scars.

popping pimples can cause acne scaring

Can I get whiteheads on my back? 

Whiteheads can appear anywhere on your skin including your back, but here whiteheads can be more common than blackheads due to the thicker skin not allowing the air to the pus to oxidise and harden. These may sometimes be hidden by the thick skin or have a smaller ‘pinprick’ head showing the whitehead with the pus then underneath the skin. These are caused by the exact same process as all spots, with your sebum, dead skin and bacteria combining to fill the hair follicle under the skin.

How do I get rid of pimples with white heads?

The only long term solution to stop all acne from coming back is to treat from the inside. Most acne treatments focus on the outside. But by the time acne is on the outside the process is well underway. Try our acne supplements to target the internal causes and stop them coming back from good. More on how they work here.

If I can't pop pimples with white heads - how do I reduce there appearance?

Popping pimples in tempting but your skin was designed to heal itself. Let it do its thing. If you do want to cover up your pimple to reduce the appearance use a bb cream with zinc oxide that helps unclog pores, reduce excess oil, and reduces inflammation. Check out the POREFAVOR BB cream here.  

Do whiteheads go away on their own?

White heads do go away on there own. Depending on your skin type this can take up to 7 days. For persistent outbreaks take the acne supplement mentioned above, and for sporadic spots try our Breakout serum and BB cream which were designed to tackle current outbreaks.


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