What Causes Whiteheads?

What Causes Whiteheads? A variety of factors play into the prevalence of whiteheads, including cleansing routines, lifestyle habits, and genetics. One cause of whiteheads is hormonal changes and fluctuations in hormone levels can trigger acne breakouts.

Certain life events and stages can increase the production of sebum produced in the pores; the more oil your skin produces, the more likely they are to clog and create whiteheads.

Whiteheads are actually evidence that your body is attempting to push out an infection. The small bump of an infected pore indicates your skin’s efforts to push out any bacteria present.

While whiteheads may seem like they pop up overnight. The formation of these closed comedones can actually take up to two months.

Causes Whiteheads: Puberty

What Causes Whiteheads?
Most cases of acne come about during puberty, when hormonal changes cause an increase in the production of sebum. When a young person begins puberty, the brain releases a GnRH hormone, which in turn signals the pituitary gland to release two additional hormones known as androgens.

These hormones tell the oil glands found beneath the skin to produce more oil, also known as sebum. As excess sebum fills up the pores, the skin is unable to completely expel dead skin cells and bacteria, and this can result in blocked follicles that become acne blemishes, including whiteheads.

Puberty occurs at different ages for boys and girls. Girls generally begin puberty at age 11, but cases of girls as young as 6 and 7 have been reported. Boys begin puberty as early as age 9, but on average, puberty for boys begins at age 12. Boys may suffer from puberty-related acne for longer than girls.

Causes Whiteheads: Hereditary-Factors

Acne seems to be partly caused by hereditary factors. Parents with a history of acne are likely to have children who struggle with the same skin condition.

Multiple studies have found a strong correlation between genes and acne prevalence, however, similar lifestyle habits found within families may have a bearing on the appearance of skin blemishes and conditions.

Genes may determine how sensitive your skin is, and how sensitive you are to hormonal changes. Genetics can also impact your inflammatory response; some may respond to bacteria with a stronger inflammatory reaction than others which could have an effect on the severity of acne.

Causes Whiteheads: Stress

Scientists and dermatologists have long observed a link between higher stress levels and the incidence of breakouts, but there has been no clear answer on how stress exactly promotes the formation of pimples. Scientists have found that cells which produce sebum do contain receptors for stress hormones.

When someone who suffers from acne is under heightened stress, these oil-producing cells are unregulated, resulting in excess sebum and a higher chance of pore blockage that could lead to breakouts, including whiteheads, cystic acne, and other types of pimples.

While no clear study has confirmed this conjecture, studies have repeatedly observed that times of high stress have seen those with acne deal with more frequent, more intense breakouts.

Stress can also result in a vicious cycle; those who are anxious may pick at their skin, worsening a pre-existing acne condition. These pimples may become infected, and cause more stress, feeding into the picking habit.

Causes Whiteheads: Life’s Hormonal Changes

There are various life events that can cause a shift in hormonal levels beyond puberty, and many of these changes affect women in particular. Many women may find that pregnancy causes fluctuations in hormones (generally around six weeks) that result in an increase of acne blemishes.

Many women also find that the appearance of whiteheads and other forms of acne worsens during their menstrual cycle. As estrogen decreases, progesterone levels increase, signaling the glands to produce more oil.

Causes Whiteheads: Life Habits

Personal habits may also worsen the presence of acne blemishes. While diet has not been proven to be an immediate cause, numerous studies have observed a connection between certain foods and the prevalence of blemishes, including whiteheads.

One of the most common questions regarding diet and skin conditions: Does eating chocolate cause acne? The answer isn’t black and white, but studies show our diets can have a big effect on the way our skin looks and feels. There’s also been evidence that smoking can worsen acne, particularly comedones, including both whiteheads and blackheads.

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