Whiteheads are small white bumps caused by clogged skin pores. Thus, they are similar to blackheads. However, unlike blackheads they appear white or yellow in color.
The reason is that the sebum, dirt, dead skin cells, etc. trapped in the skin pores do not get exposed to the oxygen in the air as the follicles have narrow opening to the skin surface.
In case of blackheads, though, the follicles have a wider opening, thereby allowing air to enter follicles. Hence, the plugged material turns dark in color due to oxidization of melanin.
A whitehead, also known as a closed comedone or milium (plural milia), is a form of acne. It is usually painless but can be infected with P.acnes bacteria. More often than not, whiteheads appear on the face, particularly on cheeks temples, and forehead.
Some people are more prone to blackheads and whiteheads than others because their sebaceous glands produce sebum with oleic acid rather than linoleic acid which is calming to the skin and does not lead to the development of hard plugs.
How to Get Rid of Whiteheads
Here are 10 suggestions to help clear whiteheads.
- Facial steaming can be done about once a week to open up your pores and loosen up the buildup of oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. For this, you need to boil a pan of water and pour it in a large bowl. Put a few drops of an essential oil like that of lemon, chamomile, rosemary, etc. in it and place your face over the bowl to expose it to the steam for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can dip a towel in warm water, wring it, and then place it on your face for a few minutes and repeat the procedure two to three times. After this steam treatment, you may soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply it on the affected areas.
- Add four tablespoons of baking soda in a cup of warm mineral water. Apply this mixture on your face and leave it for about 10 minutes. Finally, remove the mask and follow up with a moisturizer. Preferably, follow this remedy after facial steaming.
- Mix one tablespoon each of lemon juice and salt (preferably dead salt) in two tablespoons of whole milk. Rub this recipe on your face. Rinse it off after 15 minutes to reduce whiteheads. Regular application of this milk and lemon juice face pack can also nourish and soften your skin.
- Soak some tea tree oil on a cotton ball and dab on the affected area to fight bacteria and cure blackheads, whiteheads, and acne breakouts. It helps reduce acne scars, too.
- Take cornstarch (absorbs oil) and apple cider vinegar (works as an astringent) in a ratio of 3:1. Mix both the ingredients in a bowl and apply the resultant paste on the affected area for about 15-30 minutes. Finally, wipe it off with a clean washcloth and wash your face with lukewarm water, followed by a cold water rinse to close the pores.
- Grind a handful of blanched almonds. Take two tablespoons of this paste and a tablespoon of pure honey (preferably manuka honey) and a little lemon juice. Exfoliate your skin with this almond and honey facial scrub and wash it off after 15-20 minutes.
- Add a tablespoon of honey in two tablespoons of oatmeal. Heat the mixture slightly in a microwave. Apply it on your face and after 20 minutes, remove it with lukewarm water to clear blocked pores. Instead of honey, you can combine oatmeal with plain yogurt, too. After exfoliation, wrap an ice cube in a piece of cotton cloth and run it over your face. It helps close the pores.
- Regularly apply a cleanser, followed by deep cleansing pore strips to reduce whiteheads by pulling away the buildup dirt and sebum. It can help treat mild acne as well. Plus, you may use facial cleansers containing alpha hydroxyl acids and salicylic acid.
- Application of an over-the-counter treatment containing at least 5% benzoyl peroxide inhibits acne growth by killing the bacteria and exfoliates dead skin. Thus, it is often recommended for healing whiteheads. After applying this remedy, though, make sure moisturize your face lightly as benzoyl peroxide tends to dry out your skin. Follow this treatment two times in a day for about four to six weeks. Antibiotics are used at times, but most antibiotics are not effective in preventing as well as curing whiteheads.
- There is also the option to consult a dermatologist or skin care specialist and get your whiteheads extracted by an expert. An instrument called whitehead extractor is used for this purpose.
Tips to Prevent Whiteheads
When dealing with whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, etc. it is advised to avoid using greasy makeup and skin care products. So, you should opt for water-based, non-comedogenic products.
Consistent cleaning of the skin is extremely important for preventing and controlling problems like acne, whiteheads, and blackheads in oily skin. Therefore, wash your face two times in a day with a soap-free face wash.