Everyone wants clear, beautiful skin. But perfect skin – or even the illusion of perfect skin – is never easy. Whiteheads can be one of the most common and most frustrating challenges to that smooth, translucent skin everyone wants to achieve. Luckily, are also easily prevented and treated.
What is a Whitehead?
A whitehead is a type of acne. Whitehead can appear on the face, chin or nose. Whiteheads may also appear on the shoulders, chest and back. There is often confusion between blackheads and whiteheads. Both are comedones, meaning that they are plugs of oily and dead skin matter that are stuck in the opening of a hair follicle.
The difference between the two is this: a whitehead is a closed comedone. The top of it meets together or nearly meets together. With a blackhead, the comedone is open.
Neither a blackhead nor a whitehead is what is commonly referred to as a ‘pimple.’ A pimple is a red bump filled with liquid or oil.
Causes of Whiteheads
The pores of the skin get clogged, and whiteheads form. This tends to happen most often during phases of life when the body produces the most oil – puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are examples of these phases. Certain medications may also cause the body to produce extra oils that can clog pores.
Best Care Prevention
As with all skin care problems, the best way to treat them is to try to avoid them. Proper skin care does not involve harsh scrubbing. Disrupting the skin in that manner can actually lead to more whiteheads.
The ideal skin care routine would involve:
- Washing the skin with warm (not cold or super hot) water,
- Using a gentle soap or cleanser, and
- Using a salicylic acid treatment.
Salicylic acid treatments may be purchased over-the-counter in products by various acne brands. These products help to remove excess oils from the skin and to assist with the exfoliation process. Both of these will reduce the chances of whiteheads forming.
Home Treatments vs. Medications
Even with proper skin care, some people are prone to getting acne and whiteheads more than other people. Those individuals will need to take additional steps to treat the problem. Whether to take a homeopathic or a more traditional path will depend upon each person’s individual preference.
It is possible, too, to begin with the less expensive and less invasive home remedies. If those fail, individuals may then decide to move on to seeing a physician knowing that they tried on their own first.
The one treatment never to try, however, is popping. Popping a whitehead carries far more risks than potential benefits. The debris blocking the pores can be pushed further into the skin, or it can be splattered onto other pores when the whitehead pops, thus causing other blemishes. It is always best to leave the whitehead undisturbed.
Home remedies offer many positive benefits. They are fast. They allow for the potential to remove the whiteheads without chemicals. And many smell fabulous.
Clogged pores cause whiteheads. Heat can ease and open those clogged pore. Try a steam bath for the face or simply take a hot shower. It’s also effective to put warm, damp towels on the face. Do this daily.
There are countless scrubs that can be made at home with ingredients most people already have in their pantries or kitchens. Mix up a scrub once every few days (at first & then use a scrub weekly) and gently rub onto damp skin. Be sure to follow with a light, oil-free moisturizer.
- Oatmeal Scrub – mix equal parts of raw oatmeal, brown sugar and honey. Gently rub onto face. Let sit for five to 10 minutes. Rinse.
- Salt Scrub – mix one portion liquid body wash or facial cleanser with half portion table salt. Massage onto whiteheads. Rinse thoroughly.
- Sugar scrub – mix equal portions olive oil, brown sugar and white sugar. Scrub onto face and rinse.
Tea and Sorta Teas
After making a cup of hot tea, save those used bags of tea leaves. Pop them in the fridge and later, lay them on areas where whiteheads cluster. The acidity in the tea will help open up the comedones and free those whiteheads.
Tea tree oil is known to cure a wide variety of things, thanks to its astringent quality. Put a little dab on the whiteheads and see if it doesn’t clear them up quickly.
Weird and Wacky
Some of the best home remedies are those that no one ever thought would work. And maybe they’re the ones that still sound like they shouldn’t work. But they’re inexpensive and quirky and worth a try.
- Toothpaste – It seems there’s something about the fluoride in toothpaste that helps draw out the whiteheads.
- Lemon – Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto a cotton pad (or go all in and just rub the lemon on the whiteheads on your chin). The acidity in the lemon will help dry up the oils on your skin.
Seeing a Dermatologist
If none of these possibilities help, it might be time to see a doctor. A dermatologist will evaluate the problem and make recommendations. Those recommendations may include one or more of the following.
- Retin-A – Taken from Vitamin A, Retin-A (also sold under names such as Avita and Renova) helps the skin by increasing cell turnover.
- Antibiotics – These can be prescribed as oral pills or as creams or gels to be applied directly to the skin.
- Azelaic acid – This can also be prescribed in a gel or cream and applied directly to the skin. Azelaic acid reduces the bacteria on the skin.
In all likelihood, it won’t be necessary to use any of these prescriptions for an extended period. Once the skin is calmed and under control and its natural beauty is able to shine through, it can be maintained with proper skin care. Whenever there is an unexpected breakout of whiteheads, they can be tamed with home treatments.