What Causes Whiteheads?

The main causes of whiteheads are dead skin cells, bacteria, clogged pores and oils, as stated by the Mayo Clinic. Certain factors can worsen acne, such as the hormones produced during puberty.

Whiteheads appear when oil, dead skin cells and bacteria clog pores. When this happens, white pus begins to form. Some conditions and physiological states make acne worse:

  • During puberty, teenagers of both sexes produce more male hormones. As they increase sebum production, the chances of pores becoming clogged are higher. Other hormonal causes of whiteheads include pregnancy and using oral contraceptives.
  • There is some evidence to suggest that eating a diet high in carbohydrates makes acne worse. In addition, chocolate may make acne worse. One study examined its effects on 14 participants, and found it exacerbated their condition. However, the reasons for this are not known.
  • A Stanford University study found that stress makes acne worse. While the reasons for this are not fully understood, it may be because stress hormones increase the production of sebum, which then leads to whiteheads.

There are some common myths surrounding acne causes:

  • Dirty skin does not cause acne. In addition, using cleansers and scrubs too often can make acne worse, but when used in moderation, they remove the dirt and dead skin that causes it.
  • Eating greasy foods does not lead to whiteheads, although working in an environment where greasy foods are made may cause whiteheads.