Whiteheads are enlarged hair follicles clogged with skin oils, cells, and bacteria. Whiteheads are also known as closed comedones and are the most basic kind of acne lesion.
Those who suffer from whiteheads will relate to the woes that come with it. Whiteheads are very similar to blackheads and occur when the pores of the skin are clogged with dirt and grime. Just washing your face in such cases, do little in treating the condition. A healthy diet and good hygiene can help in whiteheads treatment, but you need more than just that. Home remedies? Yes, there are a number of home remedies that are tried and tested and work like a charm.
What is a whiteheads?
The sebaceous glands release natural oils called sebum onto the skin's surface.This occurs at pore structures called the pilosebaceous units (PSUs). The PSUs are most common on the face, chest, and back, all of which are places where acne can occur.
A whitehead develops when sebum, hair, and skin cells form a plug in the hair follicle and the PSU becomes clogged.
Bacteria that live on the skin's outer layer or epidermis are attracted to the clogged pore and begin to grow. The presence of bacteria draws immune cells to the pore, which causes inflammation.
If the enlarged follicle remains trapped under the skin's surface, it will appear as a raised white bump called a whitehead.
Available treatments for whiteheads
Whiteheads develop when dead skin cells, sebum (oil), and dirt clog your pores. Unlike blackheads, which can be pushed out, whiteheads are closed within the pore.This can make treatment a bit more challenging.
Yet, there’s hope when it comes to getting rid of pesky whiteheads. From home and natural remedies, to over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription treatments, you can take a variety of approaches.
Hands-off approach for white heads
Ironically, the first step to whitehead treatment is to do nothing — that is, you’ll want to take a hands-off approach. Touching your face not only invites more pore-clogging dirt, oil, and bacteria, but it can also cause irritation.
Picking and popping whiteheads simply doesn’t work, and it may do more harm than good.In some cases, it can lead to irritation and permanent scarring. Your best bet is to explore other removal and preventive measures.
Home remedies for whiteheads
Home remedies are perhaps the easiest and most affordable whitehead removal options.They usually involve using things you may already have around the house. Beware of potentially damaging ingredients, though. You should also stop any remedy that causes skin irritation.
It is important to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 when trying home treatments for whiteheads, as most make the skin more sensitive to the sun.
Exposing the skin to steam encourages plugged pores to open up. A facial steam or sauna is one of the best natural treatments for whiteheads.
Steam facial helps open up the pores and loosens the buildup of dirt, oil and dead skin cells.
• Boil some water in a pan to create steam. Turn off the heat and place your face over the pan while holding a towel over head to trap the steam around your face. Allow the steam to soak into your face for five to eight minutes. Don't steam your face for too long, or get too close to the hot water. The heat can cause inflammation if exposure is too high.Finally, pat dry your skin with a clean towel.
• Alternatively, you can dip a soft, clean towel in warm water, wring out the excess water and place it on your face. Leave it on for a few minutes and then remove it. Repeat the process two or three times in a sitting.
Use either of these remedies once or twice a week on a regular basis, especially if you have oily skin. You can also follow this with one of the facial scrubs or exfoliating remedies for even better results.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is known as both an anti-inflammatory and an antimicrobial. Many facial cleansers, washes, and toners contain tea tree extract.
Pure tea tree oil extract can also be bought at most drug stores and applied directly to the affected skin using a clean finger or cotton pad.
- Dip a cotton swab in water and put three or four drops of tea tree oil on it.
- Dab it on the affected area.
- Leave it on at least for 30 minutes.
- Wash it off with cool water.
- Do this twice daily until you see improvement.
Nutmeg and Milk
Grind together a handful of nutmegs and 1/4th cup of milk. Or simply grind nutmeg into a fine powder and milk it with a teaspoon of milk to make a thick paste. Apply this paste using your fingers not just on the affected areas, but allover your face and neck. Once the paste dries up, you can wash it off. Do this daily and the whiteheads will be gone.
Now who doesn’t know the benefits of Aloe Vera for skin? We all know that Aloe Vera helps fight every skin problem ever.
And thus it is no surprise that this also works for treating open pores. Apply the gel on your face and leave it for 15minutes. You can also massage the gel on your face in circular motion. All the oil and dirt from your pores will be eliminated.
Like tea tree oil, aloe vera is available as an extract or in OTC skin care products. Although studies on the efficacy of aloe vera alone are inconclusive,the Mayo Clinic reports that the ingredient may be helpful when used with other acne products.
Honey has powerful antibacterial properties. Its sticky, thick quality also means it smothers pores and stays in place, allowing it to seep deep into the skin.
It can be used by heating a tablespoon of honey in the microwave for 15 seconds or until it is slightly warm to the touch. After the skin has been cleaned, the warmed honey can be applied directly and left on for 15 minutes.
This routine can be repeated as often as necessary.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and considered an astringent, capable of drying out and shrinking the pores. Apple cider vinegar also helps reduce inflammation and has antibacterial and anti-microbial properties.
Apple cider vinegar works like an astringent and thus removes excess oil from the skin. Plus, it has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that help fight acne.
• Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in one cup of water. Apply this solution on your face using a cotton ball. Leave it on for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.
• Another option is to mix one part apple cider vinegar with three parts cornstarch. Spread it on your face. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before scrubbing it off. Clean your face with a washcloth soaked in warm water. Follow with a cold water rinse to close the pores.
Use either of these remedies daily or a few times a week until you get encouraging results.
Note: Apple cider vinegar may be too acidic for sensitive skin.
Lemon juice is also acidic and works to dry out the skin and soak up excess oils. It also contains antibacterial compounds and helps reduce inflammation.
Lemon juice can be used undiluted or diluted with equal parts water. In either case,it can be applied directly to the affected area of the body using a cotton pad or clean fingers and left on for 20 minutes.
Being rich in alpha hydroxy acids, lemon juice helps exfoliate the skin and also facilitates cell regeneration. It also helps get rid of excess oil due to its astringent properties.
- Dip a cotton ball in lemon juice and apply the juice on your face.
- Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash your face with cold water.
- Do this daily before going to bed. Continue for at least a few months.
Note: Lemon juice may be too acidic for sensitive skin.
Witch hazel contains astringents or compounds that cause skin cells and pores to shrink, so limiting infection. As the pores tighten, trapped materials may be pushed to the surface and expelled.
Witch hazel is also known to reduce inflammation and remove excess oils.
Witch hazel is often found in facial or body washes and toners. It can also be purchased as an astringent and applied to the skin using a clean finger or cotton pad.
Astringents are known to cause irritation and dryness, so it is best if witch hazel products are used just once a day and more often only if necessary.
Turmeric powder and Neem leaves
Crush a few leaves of neem with a pinch of turmeric powder. Use some water to make a paste. Both turmeric and neem have been used since time immemorial in skincare. It can together treat whiteheads in no time at all. It will also help keep other skin infections at bay. Apply the paste on your face, focusing on the affected areas and let it dry. Wash it off once dry. In a week, the whiteheads would diminish.
Similarly to witch hazel, salicylic acid is an astringent. This can lead to decreased oil production and can help to push the material in clogged pores towards the surface. Salicylicacid also dries the skin, soaks up excess oils, and helps get rid of dead skin cells.
Salicylic acid can be found in combination with other anti-acne compounds in many facial and body washes and creams.
Because it may cause irritation and dryness, it is best to start by using the treatment once daily and slowly increase it up to three times daily if necessary.
Benzoyl peroxide has strong anti-bacterial properties and can reduce inflammation. It can also help dry up excess oils.
Benzoyl peroxide is found in many different facial and body washes, toners, creams, and spot treatments.
Because it can lead to dryness and irritation, people should start with products that only contain 2 percent benzoyl peroxide, and use them once a day. The concentration and frequency of use can be increased over time. Moreover you should buy the best quality brand product for the best result.
Benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabric, so when using substances containing it, people should wash their hands thoroughly afterward. If used on the face, it may be helpful for people to cover their pillow with a towel before they go to sleep.
Vitamin A and mild retinoid creams
Vitamin A helps promote skin growth, reduces inflammation, and is a strong antioxidant.Many facial creams and washes contain vitamin A. It can also be purchased as a pure oil and applied directly to the skin.
Retinoid creams contain stronger forms of vitamin A. Some mild retinoid creams, such as adapalene, are available over the counter. These creams should be applied to the whole face.
A person can start using the treatment every second night for a week before increasing treatments to once daily.
Retinoids make the skin very sensitive to the sun, so it may be safest to use the product before bed rather than during daylight hours.
Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) help exfoliation by shedding off dead skin cells and reducing the chances of them becoming trapped in pores.
Products with concentrations below 10 percent are generally gentle enough to use two to three times per week. This treatment is not always well-tolerated by people with chronic or acute acne, sun damage, or oily skin.
Some proper skin care tips
There are many misconceptions when it comes to preventing whiteheads and acne. While stress and greasy foods may make existing acne symptoms worse, they are not known to be the cause. In addition, aggressive or excessive cleaning can intensify symptoms and increase the chances of developing whiteheads.
However, there are several habits known to contribute to acne lesions.
Taking care of your skin in general can go along way in preventing whiteheads in the first place. Try these tips to get the best results:
- Wash your face once in the evening. Use a mild product, like one from Dove or Cerave. You may also want to wash your face after working out or playing sports.
- Use lukewarm water for cleansing and bathing.
- Avoid harsh scrubs, which can cause skin irritation.
- Exfoliate a few times per week only. It helps to get rid of dead skin that can clog your pores, but exfoliating too much can actually cause further irritation and more acne problems.
- Wear a sunscreen specifically designed for the face. All-over sunscreens can clog facial pores.
- Wash your hair regularly, especially if you have long hair. Oil from your hair can clog your pores.
- Keep hair products away from your face.
- Clean your Smartphone, pillowcase, and sunglasses regularly to get rid of oil, dirt, and bacteria.
If you wear makeup, there are few other things you should keep in mind:
- Wash your makeup off every night.
- Look for makeup products labeled “oil-free” and “noncomedogenic.” These are less likely to clog your pores.
- Throw out old makeup. Creams should be used within a few months, while powders can last up to a year.
- Avoid makeup jars, which can harbor bacteria.
- Wash makeup brushes and sponges after each use.
Never share makeup or applicators.