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How to Get Rid of Whiteheads

Did you know whiteheads as well as blackheads are the types of acne! Both of these, the blackheads and whiteheads are known as comedones. Comedones are the non-inflammatory acne blemishes. You can commonly see whiteheads on nose, chin and face. They can even be seen on shoulder sometimes. If you want to get rid of whiteheads and blackheads, you need to follow a regular skin hygiene. You’ll know how to get rid of whiteheads in this article later on, but before that, it is important to know the difference between whiteheads and blackheads as well as what causes whiteheads.

Whiteheads v/s Blackheads

Blackheads are known as open comedones. They are follicles having very wide opening thus named open comedones. Blackheads get formed when sebum and sloughed-off dead cells plug your skin pores. This plug made of sebum and dead skin cells undergo a chemical reaction when these materials inside come in contact with the air. This leads to the oxidation of melanin. This in turn, gives the open comedones a typical black color and that’s why they are popularly called blackheads.

Whiteheads, on the other hand, do not go through any oxidation and thus they don’t get the black color. Therefore, they have this name- whiteheads! They are similar to blackheads in composition, made up of sebum and dead skin cells. However, they do not have wide openings but only microscopic opening to your skin’s surface. Therefore, they are also called closed comedones. As the air doesn’t reach the follicle due to very small opening, there’s no oxidation and these comedones remain white to be known as whiteheads. Unlike the blackheads, whiteheads completely block off the affected hair follicles.

There are many home remedies for blackheads as well as whiteheads. In this article, we will discuss how to get rid of whiteheads with such home remedies. But before that let’s know what causes whiteheads!

What Causes Whiteheads

Whiteheads are caused due to blocked pores where dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria get trapped. . These comedones form when the flow of sebum inside the follicles gets trapped close to the surface of the skin. But why do the pores get blocked? Here are some reasons that may explain why pores get blocked to form whiteheads.

  • Hormonal changes– Hormonal changes are the most common causes of all types of acne including whiteheads. There are certain stages in human life when there occur major changes in hormonal levels such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. During these periods, due to hormonal changes the amount of sebum release increases and this may lead to clogged pores and ultimately whiteheads. This makes women more prone to whiteheads as they go through many phases of hormonal changes in their lifetime. However, men too get whiteheads due to hormonal changes, like during puberty.
  • Medicines– Certain medication that affect hormone levels can also cause whiteheads and other acne. One of the examples is birth control pills taken by women.
  • Increase in androgens– Androgens are male sex hormones. Both men and women have these hormones but the degree of their presence differs in both of them. Women who undergo hormone-replacement therapy for menopause symptoms may get whiteheads as well as other types of pimples and acne if the drug contains testosterone. Men who consume androgenic steroids in order to build their muscle mass may also get whiteheads acne. These can sometimes get to enormous levels forming cystic acne.
  • Genes and heredity– Many studies have found that sebum production is controlled by genes. Genes can change the physiology of your skin making it more sensitive to hormones. Therefore, similar levels of androgen hormones, for example, may have different results on an acne-prone skin and the one that is not. If you have acne-prone skin, you are more likely to get even whiteheads. Genes also play major role in determining the strength of inflammatory response to bacteria as well as production of anti-inflammatory chemicals naturally in the skin. Though genes make you prone to have whiteheads and acne, you can control their breakout through environmental influences by adopting certain remedies that we will talk about later.
  • Spicy foods– There are two views about whether spicy food causes whiteheads acne. Scientific studies have not been yet able to prove that spices cause acne or whiteheads. Many people suffering from frequent whiteheads, however, believe that spices do contribute to not only forming but also in worsening the condition of acne and other comedones. So, there can be certain foods that may give whiteheads all over face or even on your shoulders. If so, eliminate that food from your diet but there is no established proof about any food causing whitehead.
  • Cosmetics and make-up– A Brazilian study found out those cosmetics to lead to whiteheads and acne lesions. Make-up can especially cause whiteheads on chin and cheeks. They can look like small, whitish bumps, sometimes called ‘grains’, more noticeable when you stretch your skin. They can also look like red pimples. To get rid of such whiteheads, whenever you apply makeup, use it as sparingly as you can. Use sheer, water-based, non-comedogenic products to avoid having clogged pores. Apply such cosmetics using only a featherlight touch that lasts only for a few seconds.
  • Lack of proper skin hygiene– If you do not clean your face regularly and properly, you may become prone to whiteheads. Improper skin care doesn’t let the dead skin cells slough off and they get stuck to the sebum, also present in excess amount due to the lack of washing and cleaning the face. Proper cleaning of skin becomes more important  after wearing makeup as the residue particles stuck within skin pores not only lead to clogged pores but may also invite bacterial infection causing whiteheads.

So, what is the best treatment for whiteheads?

There has to be multi-pronged approach when you treat whiteheads. While you take efforts to remove whiteheads with the help of over-the-counter products or some natural remedy, you should also be careful in your skincare regime. Cleaning your skin properly is essential not only to get rid of whiteheads but also to prevent them from coming back. Let’s have look into how to remove whiteheads following all these approaches!

How to Remove Whiteheads?

As we discussed, there are three ways to remove whiteheads on face or wherever you have them.

  • Topical medication for whiteheads
  • Home remedies for whiteheads
  • Proper skin care routine for whiteheads

How to Get Rid of Whiteheads Using Topical Medication?

  • Wash your face or affected area with a mild soap. Do this only twice a day. Excessive washing can make your whiteheads worse.
  • Pat dry and wait fro about 5-10 minutes. Applying any medicine just after washing may irritate your skin.
  • Get an over-the-counter acne treatment product, the one which contains benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
  • Apply this product on your whiteheads on face, chin, and nose in short apply it to all your face if you have whiteheads all over face. If not all over, apply wherever, you can see these whiteheads.
  • Benzoyl peroxide will kill the bacteria present in your skin pores.
  • Salicylic acid will help slough off dead skin cells in order to open the clogged pores. It also helps dry up the excessive oil causing whiteheads. However, it may lead to some tingling when you apply it to your skin due to its acidic composition. If your skin is too sensitive, it is better for you to adopt natural home remedies for whiteheads instead of using commercial products.
  • If you develop skin rash or blisters or experience intense itching, redness, or swelling, stop using these products and consult your doctor.

Precaution: Never over apply such OTC whitehead removal products. Twice is good or do for as many times recommended on these medicines. Using in excess will not in any way remove whiteheads faster. It will only contribute in irritating your skin causing redness, inflammation, and even more whiteheads.

How to Get Rid of Whiteheads with Home Remedies?

Here are some ways of using certain natural ingredients to get rid of whiteheads.

Facial Steaming for Whiteheads Removal

If you have whiteheads on face, steaming face can be the best remedy to remove your whiteheads. A facial steam helps open up the skin pores. This loosens up the buildup of dirt, oil sebum and dead skin cells.

Get this:

  • Hot water- 1 bowl
  • Towel

Do this:

  • Place the bowl of hot water on an even surface.
  • Lean forward to bring your face over the bowl.
  • Cover your head with the towel so that the steam doesn’t escape.
  • Let your face get steamed this way for about 5-8 minutes.
  • Now pat dry your face.
  • Do this once a week. If you have excessive oily skin, you may repeat this twice a week.

Baking Soda Scrub for Whiteheads

You can also remove your whiteheads by giving it a gentle exfoliation. It should be only gentle scrubbing because too rigorous scrubbing can make your whiteheads worse. Baking soda is just the perfect gentle exfoliating agent for your whiteheads ridden face. It also helps balance your skin’s pH levels in order to combat bacteria.

Get this:

  • Baking soda- 1-2 tsp
  • Water- enough to make a paste

Do this:

  • Add a little water to the baking soda to get a thick paste.
  • Apply this paste to your whiteheads affected area.
  • Leave it for 3-6 minutes.
  • Wash it off
  • Repeat 1-3 times a week.

Precaution: If you have too sensitive skin, do not use baking soda.

Tea Tree Oil for Whiteheads

Tea tree oil is one of the best natural remedies for whiteheads. Not only is it an effective natural anti-bacterial agent but is also a natural astringent. So, while it kills all those bacteria in your pores, it also tightens them so that no dirt or other ingredients enter in your skin pores.

Get this:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Cotton ball
  • Water

Do this:

  • Dip the cotton ball in the water and squeeze it lightly only to drain off a little water from it.
  • Now pour 3-4 drops of tea tree oil on this wet cotton ball. This will dilute the oil.
  • Dab this on whiteheads affected area.
  • Leave for 20-30 minutes.
  • Wash off with water.
  • Repeat this twice a day.

Precaution: Never use tea tree oil undiluted. If suffering from skin issues like eczema etc. tea tree oil may irritate your skin. Never consume tea tree oil as it is toxic when taken internally.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Whiteheads

Apple cider vinegar has many properties of which its antiseptic and antibacterial properties help get rid of whiteheads. It is also an astringent and helps get rid of excessive oil from the skin.

Get this:

  • Apple cider vinegar- 1 tbsp
  • Water- 1 cup
  • Cotton ball

Do this:

  • Add the vinegar to the water and mix well.
  • Soak the cotton ball in this.
  • Apply the solution all over your face or on whiteheads on chin or nose.
  • Leave it there for about 10 minutes.
  • Wash it off.

Cornstarch-Vinegar for Whiteheads Removal

Cornstarch is an excellent absorbing agent and it can help remove excessive oil from your skin to get rid of whiteheads. When added to apple cider vinegar, both of them enhance the efficiency of each other in removing whiteheads.

Get this:

  • Cornstarch- 3 tbsp
  • Apple cider vinegar- 1 tbsp
  • Washcloth
  • Warm water

Do this:

  • Mix cornstarch and the vinegar to make a paste. If it feels too thick, add some more vinegar to get a consistency that is comfortable to apply on skin.
  • Apply this paste on your whiteheads affected areas just like a face mask.
  • Leave it for about 20 minutes.
  • Now gently scrub off the paste from your skin.
  • Dip the washcloth in warm water and wring out the excessive water.
  • Wipe off your face gently with this warm washcloth.
  • Now wash off again with cool water after a couple of minutes in order to close down the open pores if any.

Lemon Juice for Whiteheads

Lemon juice contains alpha hydroxy acids have exfoliating effects that help open up the closed pores where whitehead is buried. It also dries out the excess oil.

Get this:

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice- 1-2 tbsp
  • Water – 2-4 tbsp (double than lemon juice)
  • Cotton ball

Do this:

  • Add lemon juice to the water to dilute it. Full strength lemon juice may irritate your skin.
  • Pour this diluted lemon juice over the cotton ball.
  • Dab this on your whiteheads to apply the same.
  • Do this preferably at night because lemon juice makes your skin photo sensitive and during the day time if you step out in the sun, it may give you sunburn.
  • Wash off in the morning.

Precaution: Do not use this remedy more than once in a day as it can severely dry out your skin and lead to irritation. Also, do not go out in sun after applying lemon juice to your skin.

Oatmeal Mask for Whiteheads

Not only does oatmeal exfoiate your skin to slough off dead cells, it also pulls out all the excess oil to free your skin from whiteheads. All the dirt and oil removed from your closed comedone that opens up the skin pores to treat the whiteheads. Make this oatmeal yogurt mask for your whiteheads remedy.

Get this:

  • Powdered oatmeal- 4-5 tbsp
  • Yogurt- 2-3 tbsp
  • Honey- 1 tbsp
  • Lemon juice- 1 tbsp

Do this:

  • Mix all the ingredients well to get a paste like consistency.
  • Apply this mask on your face covering the whiteheads properly.
  • Leave it for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Wash off with water.
  • Repeat once or twice a week.

Honey Cinnamon mask for Whiteheads

Honey is the nature’s antibiotic. Its excellent antibacterial properties kill off microbes making your skin disease free. It is also gentle on skin and moisturizes it well. Cinnamon is also good for your skin as it helps boost production of collagen, the vital skin protein and facilitate skin regeneration. Cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties that fight off your whiteheads and acne.

Get this:

  • Honey- 1 tsp
  • Aloe vera gel (optional)- 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder- 1 pinch

Do this:

  • Mix all the ingredients to get a smooth paste.
  • Apply this to your whiteheads affected area.
  • Leave for about 20 minutes.
  • Wash off with water, if needed, use warm water.

Precaution: A good number of people are allergic to cinnamon. To check if you are not among them, conduct a patch test before you apply cinnamon to your skin to get rid of whiteheads.

Honey-Lemon-Turmeric Mask for Whiteheads

If you suffer from both – whiteheads as well as blackheads- this remedy is for you. Not only will this mask remove whiteheads and blackheads but will also reduce the patches caused by whiteheads. It also sloughs off dead skin cells and opens up the skin pores.

Get this:

  • Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
  • Honey- 1 tsp
  • Lemon juice- 1 tsp
  • Gram flour/Rice flour- 1 tbsp
  • Rosewater- few drops

Do this:

  • Combine gram flour or rice flour whatever you are using, lemon juice, honey and turmeric powder.
  • Mix them well to get a paste. If too thick, use some more lemon juice.
  • Apply this paste all over face or whiteheads affected areas.
  • Leave it for 5-10 minutes.
  • Taking some rosewater on your palms, start scrubbing off the mask, with gentle hands though.
  • Wash off your face.
  • Do this 1-2 times a week.

Green Tea for Whiteheads

As we have seen in the causes of whiteheads, increased androgen hormone is one of the reasons behind these closed comedones. Green tea has the capability of blocking the androgen receptors in your skin. This reduces the damage these hormones do to your skin, one of which is whiteheads and acne. When you use green tea on skin, there is a dramatic reduction in sebum production. This sure contributes in getting rid of whiteheads. Therefore, you may start having green tea everyday. Have at least 2-4 cups daily. To directly apply it on your face, add some green tea to your daily skin cream or do the following.

Get this:

  • Green tea leaves- 1 tsp OR green tea bag- 1
  • Warm water- 1 cup

Do this:

  • Steep the green tea leaves in warm water for 5-10 minutes.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply this tea to your skin.
  • If using tea bag, make the tea by soaking the bag for 3-5 minutes.
  • Take the wet tea bag out and dab it on your whiteheads.
  • Enjoy the tea to get added health benefits!

Skin Care Routine to Prevent Whiteheads

Here are some tips on skin care for whiteheads. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, it would be far better to follow this skin care routine than to think about how to get rid of whiteheads!

  • Always wash your face using a mild facial cleanser. Do this only twice a day. Washing more often can worsen the condition of whiteheads.
  • Never use harsh soaps to wash your face. Not only they make your skin dry but also increase sebum production as your defense system rush to produce more oil in order to combat excessive dryness.
  • If you are not against using commercial products, use a cleanser for whiteheads having salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids. They are good at opening clogged pores.
  • If you do not use such products, adopt natural ways by using such ingredients as milk.
  • After cleansing your skin daily, use a toner to eliminate dirt residues and also reduce the size of your skin pores. If going natural, use witch hazel, the nature’s best toner that also protects your skin against acne and comedones.
  • Also do not forget to moisturize your skin daily so that it stays soft and supple. Aloe vera, jojoba oil etc. are excellent natural moisturizers, especially for those having oily skin.
  • Exfoliate your skin at least once a week. This will remove dead cells and save you from having whiteheads. Many many natural exfoliating agents have been discussed in detail in the previous section.
  • Try to use non comedogenic cosmetics. These cosmetics do not contains ingredients may clog pores. Most of the non-comedogenic products are oil-free. If you are prone to breakouts, it becomes rather essential to use such types of cosmetics.
  • Always wash out your make up tools like brushes and sponges. Also dry them properly. If you do not clean them regularly, they may become breeding grounds for bacteria and will cause whiteheads, blackheads and pimples.
  • Never forget to remove your makeup before you go to bed. Not properly cleaning your face at night is one of the major reasons behind clogged pores.
  • Change your pillow covers at least once a week. Oil, dirt, bacteria etc. that fall off from your face can build-up on these pillowcases over time. As a result, even if you clean your face properly before going to bed, all these can again stick to your face to give you comedones and acne.
  • Don’t ever pop your whiteheads howsoever irritating they might be. This may worsen the condition.
  • Have lots of fruits and green vegetables in your diet to keep your inner system clean. Any toxin or infection can give rise to bacterial growth that can result into whiteheads. You should especially consume fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin A like broccoli, spinach and carrots, as well as those rich in vitamins E and C like oranges, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados etc. These nutrients help your skin repair and renew itself so that you may get acne free glowing skin.
  • Avoid any food that you think trigger breakouts. These may include spicy and hot foods or any other food that you are allergic to.
  • Wash your hair regularly. Greasy hair can lead to more oil on your skin surface. This may block pores giving you whiteheads. Make it a routine to wash hair every two to three days. However, if you have very oily hair, you might like to wash hair daily. However, be specific in choosing a mild shampoo as too dry hair resulting from everyday wash can actually lead to more production of oil in order to fight off excessive dryness.

Taking all these precautions will not only help get rid of whiteheads but will also prevent them from coming back!

About Sara

Sara is a Boston-based registered dietitian who works with clients to improve their health by optimizing nutrition. You can find her running, sweating in hot yoga, cooking in the kitchen, dining out, or exploring. Eating Food-Mostly Plants, and improving our relationship with food, is the secret to lifelong health in her eyes.

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