Should a whitehead burst? Learn about the risks and benefits of popping a whitehead and how to properly treat and care for your skin.

Should I pop a whitehead? Learn about the risks and benefits of popping a whitehead and how to properly treat and care for your skin.

A whitehead, also known as a closed comedo, is a common type of acne blemish that occurs when a hair follicle becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It appears as a small white or flesh-colored bump on the surface of the skin. Many people find whiteheads unsightly and are tempted to pop them to get rid of them quickly. However, is this the best option?

Before deciding whether or not to pop a whitehead, it’s important to know the possible risks and benefits. Popping a whitehead can have both positive and negative consequences, and it is essential to weigh these factors before making a decision. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Proper technique: If you decide to pop a whitehead, it is essential that you do it correctly to minimize potential damage. Start by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water to reduce the risk of introducing bacteria to broken skin. Next, using a sterile needle or comedone extractor, gently press around the perimeter of the whitehead until the pus comes out. Avoid squeezing or applying excessive force, as this can cause swelling and scarring.
  2. Risk of infection: Popping a whitehead can increase the risk of infection. When the skin barrier is broken, bacteria from the hands or the environment can enter the open wound, causing inflammation and possible infection. If the whitehead does not easily release its contents or is located in a sensitive area, it is best to leave it alone and consult a dermatologist about safe removal methods.

Remember: Only attempt to pop a whitehead if you are confident in your technique and the whitehead is ready to be popped. If you are unsure, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional to avoid possible complications.

Understanding whiteheads: types and causes

Types of whiteheads:

  1. Non-inflammatory whiteheads: These are the most common type of whiteheads and are characterized by small bumps with a white or yellowish tip on the surface of the skin. They are caused by excess oil production, dead skin cells, and pore-clogging bacteria.
  2. Inflammatory White Points: In some cases, white points can be inflamed and become papules or pustules. Inflammatory white points are usually reddened and swollen, and can be painful to touch. They are caused by the same factors as no n-inflammatory white points, but with the addition of an immune system response.

It is important to keep in mind that starting or bursting white points can cause more inflammation, infection and scars.

Causes of White Points:

White points appear when pores are clogged with a combination of excess fat, dead skin cells and bacteria. Some common causes of white points are

  • Hormonal changes: fluctuations in hormonal levels, especially during puberty, can increase fat production and cause white points formation.
  • Inappropriate skin care routine: not cleaning the skin or removes it can contribute to the accumulation of fat, dead cells and bacteria.
  • Diet: Consuming a diet rich in refined carbohydrates and sugars can affect hormonal balance and increase the probability of developing white points.
  • Genetics: Some individuals may be more likely to develop white points due to genetic factors.

Understanding the types and causes of white points is crucial to determine the most appropriate treatment options. It is advisable to consult a dermatologist to obtain personalized advice and guidance on how to effectively treat and prevent white points without causing more skin damage.

Pros and Cons of Popping a Whitehead


  1. Quick elimination: Building a white point can provide instant gratification by rapidly eliminating antistics imperfection of the skin surface.
  2. Reduce inflammation: by releasing sebum and bacteria trapped, bursting a white point can help reduce inflammation and swelling associated with grain.
  3. Avoid the propagation of the infection: by draining the white point, you can reduce the possibilities that the infection extends to neighboring pores or cause additional outbreaks in the same area.


  1. Pain and discomfort: Building a white point can be painful and cause additional inflammation or trauma in the surrounding skin.
  2. Greater risk of infection: Incorrectly bursting a white point can introduce more bacteria in the pore, which leads to a higher risk of infection and potential scars.
  3. Prolonged healing time: Incorrectly bursting a white point can interrupt the natural healing process, resulting in a longer recovery time and, potentially, leaving behind a more notable scar.

In general, it is better to refrain from bursting the white points unless knowledge of adequate extraction techniques are have. Resorting to the professional help of a dermatologist can guarantee a safer and efficient extraction process. Remember that prevention is essential to reduce the appearance of white points. Maintaining a constant skin care routine, which includes soft cleaning and exfoliation, can help prevent pores and minimize white points formation.

Risks and Potential Complications of Popping a Whitehead

INFECTIONS: Build a white point increases the risk of infection, since the underlying skin is exposed to the bacteria of the hands or any tool used during the process. Bacteria can penetrate open pore and cause a localized infection, with the consequent redness, pain, swelling and, possibly, pus formation. This can prolong the healing process and cause scars.

“Believing a white point increases the risk of infection, since it exposes the underlying skin to bacteria.”

Healing: tightening or rummaging in a white point can cause trauma to the surrounding skin and increase the probability of scars. When bursting a white point, pressure is exerted on the skin, which can damage tissue delicacies. This can lead to the formation of dark spots, clefts or high scars, which is known as pos t-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

  1. Increased inflammation: bursting a white point can aggravate inflammation. When applying pressure on a white point, the pore can be broken and the content on the surrounding skin can be broken. This can cause the propagation of bacteria, greater obstruction of nearby pores and an increase in inflammation in the area.
  2. Possibility of more outbreaks: squeezing a white point can temporarily eliminate its content, but does not address the underlying cause of acne. The trauma caused by the extraction of the White Point can interrupt the natural process of healing and trigger new outbreaks in the area or even spread the bacteria that cause acne to nearby areas of the skin not affected.
  3. More healing time: Building a white point can prolong healing time. The skin needs time to repair the damage caused by the burst and regenerate new cells. In addition, the risk of infection associated with the busting may further delay the healing and cause more pronounced scars.
Risks of bursting a white point: Possible complications:
Greater risk of infection Formation of dark spots and scars
Inflammation aggravation Possibility of more outbreaks
Prolonged healing time

Alternative methods to treat whiteheads

An alternative method of treating whiteheads is the use of topical treatments. These products often contain ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which can help unclog pores and reduce inflammation. Applying a thin layer of a topical treatment to the affected area can help exfoliate the skin and prevent future whiteheads from forming.

Note: When using topical treatments, it is important to follow the instructions provided and avoid overuse as it can cause dryness and irritation. Also keep in mind that some people may experience sensitivity to certain ingredients, so it is recommended to perform a patch test before applying the product to the entire affected area.

  • Another alternative method to treat whiteheads is the use of natural remedies. Tea tree oil, for example, has antimicrobial properties that can help eliminate the bacteria responsible for whiteheads. Applying a diluted solution of tea tree oil to the affected area with a cotton swab can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Caution: It is important to note that some natural remedies may not be suitable for everyone, and allergic reactions may occur. It is recommended to perform a patch test before applying any natural remedy to the entire affected area.
Alternative methods to treat whiteheads Instructions
Topical treatments Apply a thin layer to the affected area, following the indicated instructions. Avoid excessive use to prevent dryness and irritation.
Natural medicine Dilute tea tree oil and apply to the affected area with a cotton swab. Perform a patch test before applying it to the entire affected area.

These alternative methods of treating whiteheads can be effective in reducing inflammation and preventing future breakouts. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. If whiteheads persist or worsen despite trying these alternative methods, it may be beneficial to see a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment options.

How to Safely Pop a Whitehead if Necessary

1. Prepare the area and your tools: Before attempting to pop a whitehead, it is essential to create a clean, sterile environment. Start by washing your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap. Next, use a gentle cleanser to clean the affected area and remove any dirt, oil, or makeup that may be present. You should also disinfect the utensils you are going to use, such as a comedone extractor or two cotton swabs.

Tip: It is important to keep in mind that bursting a white point when it is not ready can cause greater inflammation and possible scars. Just try to burst a white point if you have reached the head, revealing a visible and prominent white or yellowish tip.

2. 2. Apply a hot compress: to soften the white point and facilitate your extraction, apply a hot compress in the area for 5-10 minutes. This will help open the pores and loosen the trapped remains inside.

3. Remove the white point: once the white point has been primed correctly, it is time to carefully extract the content. With a comedones or two cotton rod extractor, he presses gently around the white point base, pushing down and out. Avoid tightening too strong, since it could cause unnecessary trauma to the skin.

  1. If you use a comedones extractor, place the boi n-shaped end around the white point and apply a soft and uniform pressure to expel it.
  2. If you use cotton rods, wrap each end with a handkerchief or gauze and gently press on both sides of the white point.

Tips for safe extraction from the white point
Do: Not to do:
  • Make sure the tools are clean and disinfected
  • Apply a hot compress before extraction
  • Execute a soft and uniform pressure to extract the white point.
  • Squeeze or burst a white point that is not ready
  • Use dirty or not sterilized tools
  • Apply excessive force or pressure

After eliminating the white point, it cleanses the area with a soft cleaner and applies a no n-comedogenic soothing moisturizer to favor healing. Remember that it is essential not to touch or pour the area to minimize the risk of irritation or infection.

Tips for preventing whiteheads

  • Keep your face clean: wash your face regularly with a soft cleaner is crucial to prevent white points. Use warm water and a soft no n-comedogenic cleaner to remove dirt, excess fat and dead skin cells. Avoid the use of strong exfoliants or abrasive cleaners, since they can irritate the skin and trigger the production of more fat.
  • Exfolia regularly: exfoliating the skin can help eliminate dead cells and disobstruct the pores, reducing the possibility of forming white points. However, it is important to choose a soft exfoliant and not exceed, since excessive exfoliation can irritate the skin and cause more damage than benefits. Try to be exfolled 1 to 2 times per week, using a product with ingredients such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid, known for helping to keep the pores clean.
  • Avoid heavy and greasy products: Certain cosmetics or skin care products can contribute to clogged pores and whiteheads. Opt for oil-free, non-comedogenic products that won’t clog pores. Also, avoid using moisturizing creams or strong oils on areas prone to whiteheads.

Quick tip: When purchasing skin care products, look for the terms “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free” on labels to make sure they don’t contribute to whiteheads.

Additionally, practicing good hygiene habits can also help prevent whiteheads. Avoid touching your face with dirty hands, as you can transfer bacteria and dirt to your skin. Keep your hair clean and away from your face, as oils and styling products can also clog pores. Finally, remember to remove your makeup before going to bed, as leaving it on can clog your pores and cause whiteheads to form. By following these tips and maintaining a consistent skin care routine, you can minimize the appearance of whiteheads and maintain healthy, clear skin.

When to Seek Professional Help for Whiteheads

1. Persistent and severe whiteheads: If you have had whiteheads for a long time and they do not show signs of improvement despite using topical treatments, it may be time to consult a dermatologist. They can evaluate your condition and recommend stronger prescription medications or procedures to help clear your skin.

2. Painful or inflamed whiteheads: In some cases, whiteheads may become painful and inflamed, indicating a more serious form of acne, such as cystic acne. It is important that you seek professional help if you experience severe pain, redness or inflammation associated with your whiteheads, as this may require specialized treatment.

Remember: “If you have persistent, severe or painful whiteheads, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist for proper evaluation and guidance.”

3. Self-esteem and emotional impact: If your whiteheads are causing significant emotional distress, impacting your self-esteem or affecting your quality of life, it is worth seeking professional help. Dermatologists can provide you with not only medical treatment, but also psychological support and counseling to help you cope with the emotional aspects of acne.

  1. When whiteheads persist despite over-the-counter treatments
  2. In cases of painful or inflamed whiteheads
  3. For people suffering from emotional disorders and a negative impact on their self-esteem.

In summary, although most whiteheads can be treated at home with over-the-counter products, there are cases where it is advisable to seek professional help. Whether due to their persistence, severity, pain, or emotional impact, dermatologists can provide the expertise and support needed to effectively treat whiteheads and their underlying causes.

Author of the article
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Medical oncologist at the Robert Larner College of Medicine, MD, at the University of Vermont

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