If you think you have blemish free skin with no acne, you might want to have a good look at the mirror again. If you have whiteheads, then you have acne too, because whiteheads are nothing but acne. Also called comedones, they appear on the skin as small, round, white bumps that may look like tiny white threads.
Acne is caused when skin oil secretions and dead skin cells clog the pores and block the pore opening. Whiteheads, also known as closed comedo acne in dermatologist parlance, is a hair follicle that has clogged with dead skin cells and oil. A basic acne lesion, this can then develop into minute bumps called whiteheads. A comedo that is closed at the surface of the skin is called a whitehead while the one that is open is a blackhead.
What Causes Whiteheads?
Acne is one of the most common diseases affecting the skin. Acne results when oil from the sebaceous glands are activated at puberty by male hormones from the adrenal glands in both boys and girls. While oil is a natural substance that lubricates and protects the skin, under certain conditions, cells that are close to the surface block the openings of the sebaceous glands and cause a buildup of oil underneath. This buildup stimulates the bacteria to multiply, resulting in the surrounding tissues becoming inflamed.
When the inflammation is near the surface of the skin, you get a pustule. If it is deeper, a papule (pimple) is formed. If the inflammation is deeper, it would be termed a cyst. If the oil breaks through to the surface, the result is a whitehead. If the oil becomes oxidized, the oil changes from white to black and the result is a blackhead.
Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of Whiteheads
While whiteheads are invariably a part of acne, there are numerous ways to cure these skin issues at home. Here are some of the common herbs and remedies used to get rid of whiteheads.
1. Lemon/Lime Juice
Both lemon and lime are rich in vitamin C. That apart, they also exhibit antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, making it good for the skin and skin blemishes. They can effectively get rid of blackheads as well as remove oil under the skin that might be causing whiteheads.
To use: Mix lime juice with groundnut oil to make a solution. Apply this on the affected areas. Leave it on for about 15 minutes before washing it away. Do this regularly for best results.
Slice a lemon in half, take out the juice and remove the lemon skin. Rub the skin on the face for a few minutes. Do this two times a week.
Heat expands and melts oils and waxes. As a result, steaming the affected areas, especially the face or nose, helps open up the pores of the skin, making it easier to remove whiteheads. Other bacteria and dirt are also removed during this process, making the skin smoother and clearer.
To use: Boil a bowl of water, place it on a flat surface. Place your face over the container, making sure not to burn yourself. Allow the steam to hit your face. Do this for about 10 minutes, then remove the whiteheads by pressing with the tips of your fingers or using a comedo/blackhead remover tool. Once done, wash face with cool water and pat dry with a towel.
As you may have noticed, there are quite a few beauty products that are oatmeal based. This is because oatmeal contains a number of compounds with moisturizing, cleansing, buffering, anti-inflammatory, anti-pruritic, and antioxidant properties. Oatmeal works to exfoliate the face and help remove dead skin as well as bacteria that may be found on the face. Studies show that oatmeal lotions also have multiple anti-inflammatory properties with known effects on regulating several inflammatory agents within the body.6
To use: Powder some oatmeal and mix it with a cup of unflavored yogurt. Apply this paste on the skin for about 15–20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and then with cold water to close the pores. Do this for about twice a week.
4. Sandalwood Powder
Not many people realize that sandalwood possesses strong antibacterial properties. Studies show that even the herpes simplex virus is inhibited in the presence of sandalwood oil. But it is not just the oil that is effective. Studies have revealed that the aqueous extract of air dried sandalwood powder in a concentration of 25 to 1000 μg/ml in a phosphate buffer also showed good inhibition against Staphylococcus aureus responsible for acne.7 While applying some sandalwood powder on the face and skin works against the acne by stopping further infections, it also helps remove excess oil from the skin so that the appearance of whiteheads is reduced.
To use: Mix some sandalwood powder and rose water together to form a paste. Apply the paste on the face or affected area and leave it for about 10 minutes. Wash with warm water and pat dry.
5. Sugar Scrub
While sugar is a big dietary villain these days, there are quite a few good things that it does. Being rough and granular, sugar is a good exfoliant. Using sugar as a scrub can effectively remove dead skin cells, as well as dirt and bacteria underneath the skin.
To use: Mix a small amount of honey with sugar to form a coarse paste. Apply this paste all over the face or the area affected by whiteheads. Then gently massage the paste over the area in a circular motion. Leave the paste to dry. After about 10 minutes, wipe it off with a washcloth. Rinse off any remaining residue. Repeat the process once a week to ensure all whiteheads are removed.
6. Fenugreek Leaves
While most of the remedies we have seen till now help remove whiteheads temporarily, fenugreek can ensure whiteheads are removed for good. Applying fenugreek paste on the face improves the quality of the skin, thereby making it resistant to blemishes and illnesses like acne, whiteheads, blackheads, etc. Studies show that using fenugreek extract substantially increased skin elasticity, hydration and the ability of skin to resist photoaging. This is one remedy that can effectively remove stubborn whiteheads.
To use: Make a paste with fenugreek leaves by grinding it with water in a mixer. Apply the paste on the face and leave it on overnight. Wipe off the paste in the morning, then wash with cold water.
Most people believe that strawberries are effective in getting rid of whiteheads because of its grainy texture. While a strawberry mash may work as an exfoliant to rid your whiteheads and remove dead skin cells, it is the fact that most berry fruits contain salicylates that make strawberries an effective tool in getting rid of whiteheads.9 Strawberries also boast of high antioxidant capacity, making them effective at taking care of inflamed acne and whiteheads and blackheads as well.
To use: Mash a couple of strawberries to make a paste. Add a tablespoon of honey to thicken the paste. Spread the paste evenly on the face or affected area. Leave it on for 15 minutes. Then wash away with normal water. Do this about twice a week.
8. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another home remedy that can work effectively as an astringent. Tea tree oil efficiently removes oil that may be trapped under the skin, thus effectively removing whiteheads and blackheads. Studies have shown that tea tree oil can reduce the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions (blackheads and whiteheads) with no or negligible side effects.
To use: Take a few drops of tea tree oil on a cotton swab. Dab this on the affected areas. Allow it to remain on the skin for about 30 minutes. Then wash with cool water.
9. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a natural healer for cuts, scrapes, and even minor burns. It can also help remove scarring as well as reduce acne symptoms like blackheads or whiteheads. Aloe vera contains antioxidant vitamins like A, C, and E as well as vitamin B12 and folic acid. All these work together to bind the moisture in the skin and make it more elastic and less wrinkly. The cohesive effects of aloe soften skin, while the amino acids in it soften dry and hardened skin and tighten pores. Aloe also has high moisturizing as well as anti-acne effects. Need we say anything more about why aloe vera is an effective remedy to get rid of whiteheads naturally?
To use: Take some aloe vera gel and mix it with honey. Apply it on the face or affected area. Leave it on for about 20 mins. Then wash off with water. Aloe vera’s healing properties coupled with the antioxidants from honey will leave you with smooth and clear skin. Do this regularly for about one week.
10. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a readily available and exceptionally good ingredient to get rid of whiteheads. If you are wondering how a household cleaner can help remove whiteheads on your face, then well, the process is exactly the same. Baking soda can remove or clean just about anything, even the oil and dirt that is clogging your skin pores. What’s more, baking soda also possesses antibacterial properties, ensuring that any acne and inflammation on the skin will be duly taken care of.
To use: Mix water with baking soda to form a thick paste. Massage the paste into your skin in circular movements. Leave it on for about 5 minutes. Wash off. Do this three times a week.
11. Coriander Leaves
Coriander leaves are believed to have many medicinal properties. Many of the healing properties of coriander can be attributed to the phytonutrients it possesses. Coriander is also known for its antioxidant properties as well as its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. A paste of coriander leaves is believed to have highly beneficial effects on pimples and whiteheads.
To use: Grind a small bunch of coriander leaves to make a smooth paste. Apply this paste to your face and other affected areas. Allow it to remain on the face and dry. After about 15 minutes wash off with water.
Alternatively, boil some coriander seeds in water. Allow the water to cool. Then strain it and wash your face with it. Do this every day to get desired results.
Yogurt has been an age-old therapy for skin ailments. Studies have shown that it is the probiotics found in yogurt that aid in the healing activities. Studies have shown that oral probiotics regulate the release of inflammatory cytokines in the skin through their interaction with gut-associated lymphoid tissue. Several strains of Lactobacillus have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
The topical application of yogurt, meanwhile, has shown to produce antibacterial proteins that directly inhibit the acne-causing P. acnes. It also encourages the production of healthy ceramides, helps restore healthy fats, and even counter common side effects of various acne therapies. All this will leave you with healthy skin that is clear of acne as well as whiteheads and blackheads.
To use: Take a tablespoon of yogurt. Make sure you get the watery whey also. Mix the yogurt to get a smooth paste. Apply this paste to your face and neck. Leave it for about 15 minutes. Wipe it off with a wet washcloth. Rinse with water. Do this twice a week.
13. Honey And Cinnamon
Honey is nature’s antibiotic. It has exceptional antibacterial properties that destroy microbes, leaving your skin disease-free. It is also gentle on skin and even has moisturizing properties. Honey is also believed to possess wound-healing properties. As a cosmetic, it exerts emollient, humectant, and soothing effects. It also keeps the skin young and supple and inhibits wrinkle formation. Honey also regulates pH and prevents pathogen infections.
Cinnamon, on the other hand, helps boost production of collagen, the vital skin protein, and facilitates skin regeneration. Like honey, cinnamon too has antimicrobial properties that help fight off whiteheads and acne. Studies have shown that the combination of cinnamon bark extract and honey has potential activity against acne-causing bacteria and can be effectively used as a topical anti-acne preparation.
To use: Mix 1 tsp honey with 1 pinch of cinnamon powder. Apply this smooth paste to your whiteheads affected area. Leave it for about 20 minutes. Then wash off with water.
Note: Some 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.
Ways To Prevent Whiteheads From Forming
- Wash your face using a mild facial cleanser. Do this only twice a day as washing more often can worsen the condition.
- Harsh soaps not only make your skin dry but also increase sebum production.
- After cleansing your skin, use a toner to eliminate dirt residues and reduce the size of your skin pores.
- Moisturize your skin daily so that it stays soft and supple.
- Exfoliate your skin at least once a week.
- Try to use noncomedogenic cosmetics.
- Always wash out and dry your makeup tools like brushes and sponges as they may become breeding grounds for bacteria.
- Always remove your makeup before going to bed. Otherwise, you may end up with clogged pores.
- Change your pillow covers at least once a week.
- Do not pop your whiteheads. This may worsen the condition.
- Have lots of fruits and green vegetables in your diet to keep your gut clean.
- Avoid any food that triggers breakouts.
- Wash your hair regularly. Greasy hair can lead to more oil on your skin surface.