white·​head ˈ(h)wīt-ˌhed How to pronounce whitehead (audio)
: a small whitish elevation of the skin (as on the face) due to retention of sebum and dead skin cells in a skin pore blocked by a thin layer of epithelium

called also closed comedo, comedo, milium

compare blackhead sense 1

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Our tester had a breakout forming at the time of testing, and noticed that the whitehead absorbing dot had completely absorbed the sebum surrounding the bump after three and half hours. Madison Yauger, PEOPLE.com, 22 July 2022 This loosening of dirt and excess oil allows for pimples and cystic acne to rise to the most surface level of the skin, encouraging a whitehead that'll take less time to clear up. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 14 Feb. 2022 Since BHAs remove the pore-cloggers that lead to acne, salicylic acid is best for preventing blackheads and whiteheads. Katie Bourque, Good Housekeeping, 30 Mar. 2020 In other words, wait until the whitehead has completely formed beneath the skin, otherwise cysts or an infections can occur, warns Russak. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, 4 Oct. 2019 In fact actual whiteheads aren’t even really poppable. Sara Coughlin, SELF, 1 Aug. 2019 Find out how to identify and deal with the different kinds of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads, blind pimples, and cystic zits — because not all purported acne-fighting formulas effectively fight all types of acne. Deanna Pai, Allure, 4 Mar. 2020 Dapsone is both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, and it’s proven to help with blackheads, whiteheads, and deeper painful pimples. Jessica Cruel, SELF, 8 Aug. 2019 If your lip pimple looks like whitehead, look for a spot treatment formulated with salicylic acid, which will get deep into your skin and help clear clogged pores. Yerin Kim, Seventeen, 16 Jan. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whitehead.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1886, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of whitehead was in 1886

Dictionary Entries Near whitehead

Cite this Entry

“Whitehead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whitehead. Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


white·​head ˈhwīt-ˌhed How to pronounce whitehead (audio)
: a small whitish lump in the skin caused by the fluid given off by an oil gland when the canal leading from the gland is blocked

Medical Definition


white·​head -ˌhed How to pronounce whitehead (audio)
: milium

Biographical Definition

Whitehead 1 of 2

biographical name (1)

White·​head ˈ(h)wīt-ˌhed How to pronounce Whitehead (audio)
Alfred North 1861–1947 English mathematician and philosopher


2 of 2

biographical name (2)

William 1715–1785 English dramatist; poet laureate (1757–85)

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