Blackheads and whiteheads are a combination of oils, sebum and cellular fragments that produce firm to hard plugs within hair follicles. Blackheads are open to the skin’s surface and become darkened at the surface by exposure to oxygen (oxidation). They are called open comedones. When bacteria are added to these blackheads, the condition can lead to acne.

Whiteheads are closed from the skin’s surface by cellular debris at the follicle opening. Because they are closed and have no contact with oxygen, they do not oxidize or turn brown, as blackheads do. They form a light or yellow-white lump and are called milia (or milium, singular). When bacteria is added to these plugs, the condition can lead to acne, especially cystic acne.

The sebaceous glands normally produce sebum with linoleic acid (omega 6), an essential fatty acid. This type of sebum has a liquid viscosity. It is calming to the skin and does not promote follicular irritation that leads to plugs. When linoleic acid is not is not available, the sebaceous glands produce sebum with oleic acid. This oleic form of sebum is irritation to the skin and promotes plugs. Oleic sebum is much firmer than linoleic sebum and is prone to producing hard plugs rather than flowing out of the follicle. This causes blackheads and whiteheads and both of these conditions may lead to acne infections.

Blackheads and whiteheads are promoted by excessive cellular exfoliation, which quickly clog or block the follicles. Some skin specialists believe individuals with frequent and multiple blackheads and whiteheads produce sebum that is drier than normal and conducive to forming firm plugs. Sebum contributes to skin oils and people with dry sebum may have dry skin. This may be especially true of people with chronic whiteheads, but it is also possible to have dry sebum with oily skin.

This condition is frequently caused by linoleic acid deficiency, resulting in sebum that is dry and firm and tends to develop into plugs. Blackhead/Whitehead Controller can dissolve blackheads in about 3-4 weeks with twice daily use, immediately following cleansing. Following this period the product should be used as needed (such as 2-5 times weekly) to maintain control. Whiteheads may turn into blackheads, due to exposure to oxygen, during the treatment period.

Milia may benefit from a dietary adjustment. Patients with large numbers of whiteheads may have an inability to digest or absorb linoleic acid, which leads to sebum produced with an oleic acid form of sebum. We suggest you use the BiON products and purchase flaxseed oil supplements in the 1000mg size. Take one capsule daily. Do NOT take the supplements if pregnant or nursing. The supplements take 2-3 weeks to have an effect and the sebaceous glands will begin producing the linoleic form of sebum. This will reduce the volume of new plugs but may not eliminate them all together. The supplements usually resolve issues with dry skin and in general improve the appearance of the skin. Flaxseed oil supplements will not dissolve pre-existing plugs but will work in conjunction with BiON products. Blackhead/Whitehead Controller can then be used to dissolve existing whiteheads.