Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What are whiteheads?"
What exactly is a whitehead? I'm 23 and I've never had them before this year, and now I have more than my share. I always thought they were the same thing as pimples, but what I'm getting on my forehead doesn't seem anything like a pimple. What's the best way to prevent them?
Whiteheads are a form of acne. They appear as small "clogged pores" containing a thick white liquid. They are caused when the pores are clogged by dead skin debris, allowing natural skin oils, bacteria, and immune cells to build up creating a pus-like material. Pimples are another common term that usually is the same as a whitehead. There are other skin rashes other than whiteheads that sometimes have white material inside them and could also be called pimples. One possibility would be seborrheic dermatitis, which can sometimes have 'lumps and bumps' and greasy, scaly skin on the forehead, hairline, and scalp. Occasionally a contact rash, say from a new soap or shampoo, can also caused raised bumps on the skin of the forehead or face. As always, the diagnosis and the management of your specific condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Scheduling an office visit with your primary care doctor might be indicated.
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