Blackheads and whiteheads serve as a precursor to inflamed acne breakouts, meaning prevention of these lesions can prevent more severe acne from forming. Whiteheads form when oil and bacteria do not penetrate the skin's surface and simply cause the skin to bulge--making a whitehead. With blackheads, the oil and dead skin cells are open to the skin's surface, where the oxygen reacts with skin pigments, making a black, pin-dot head. To prevent these from developing, develop a healthy skin-care regimen that helps you reduce the amount of oil on the skin's surface.
Review your skin-care and makeup products--if applicable--and throw away any that contain oil. These products add increased oil to your pores, which can result in whiteheads or blackheads. Moving forward, buy products labeled "non-comedogenic," which means the product will not clog pores.
Cleanse the face twice daily with a mild cleanser. Washing twice a day removes excess oil, dirt and other pollutants from the skin, leaving the pores less clogged. Using a cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids--such as glycolic acid--or salicylic acid may help to keep dead skin cells out of the pores, according to Audrey Kunin, MD, writing for DERMA Doctor.
Apply a topical lotion that contains a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. This also can contain a known acne fighter, such as azaleic acid, retinol and alpha hydroxy acids.
Exfoliate the skin using a facial scrub once to twice per week. Exfoliation is especially important when preventing and treating whiteheads and blackheads because the particles in the pore may be very slow to seep out of the pores, according to Acne.org.
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In addition to at-home treatments, facial treatments such as microdermabrasion may help aid in exfoliation and keep the pores free of excess oil and debris.
Avoid exfoliating the skin more than twice weekly--exfoliating more often than this can irritate the skin, which actually signals the skin to produce more oil.