For people who have been battling acne for years, whiteheads are a familiar sight. Even if you've rid yourself of the pus-filled bumps that most people associate with acne but still have whiteheads — the battle is still on!
To truly come out a victor from acne, we must eliminate all of its forms — including whiteheads. These tiny bumps may seem harmless, but don't let your guard down!
Treat these flesh-colored bumps as ticking time bombs — any moment, given the right circumstance, whiteheads can wreak havoc on your face. The best thing for you to be victorious in battle is to eliminate these bumps as soon as possible.
Luckily, I've prepared for you 5 ways to eliminate whiteheads. Read on to know more about what whiteheads are and how you can rid yourself of these frustrating little bumps!
What Are Whiteheads?
Whiteheads are a type of blemish from the skin condition — acne. These blemishes form when pores are clogged but stay closed at the skin surface. That is why whiteheads are also referred to as closed comedones.
Like most blemishes associated with acne, whiteheads form when dead skin cells and sebum plug the opening of follicles. When sebum continues to accumulate behind the plug, the plug can enlarge and form a visible comedo. A comedo that is closed by the skin is what we refer to as a whitehead.
A whitehead looks precisely the way it sounds—whitish in appearance. This appearance is due to the thin layer of skin covering the pore, which keeps the oil and dead skin inside from being exposed to oxygen.
Whiteheads are non-inflammatory acne. No redness or swelling is associated with them. However, if not eliminated right away, more oil can gather in closed comedones, increasing the chance for bacteria to multiply and lead to inflammatory acne: papules, pustules, nodules — the works.
5 Ways To Eliminate Whiteheads
In our journey towards clear and healthy skin, facing the challenge of eliminating whiteheads is inevitable. Clearing inflamed acne is a job well done, but we must not forget about getting rid of closed comedones.
With that, here are five measures and treatments you can try in your battle against whiteheads.
1. Hands off
It can be incredibly tempting to squeeze whiteheads. It's as if these little bumps beckon as to squeeze the sebum and dead skin cells out of them. But we must not fall for it!
Hands-off! Yes, we must not touch these bumps.
This first step may appear quite ironic, but trust me, this step is essential. Touching your face not only invites more dead skin cells inside your pores, but it can also irritate.
Picking whiteheads doesn't work period. Have you tried popping one, only to have it come back a few hours later — this time bigger and angrier?
Touching or squeezing or popping these damages the skin — causing pain and spreading the bacteria to more of your face. I know it is tempting to do it, and I admit I do that too (sometimes) — guilty as charged. What we must do is to muster enough self-control and go completely hands-free.
In cases where, like me, you failed to stop yourself from popping one, be sure to treat the spot immediately. You first need to stop picking it, simply allowing it to heal. The next thing is to clean the spot. You can use witch hazel to reduce the inflammation. Applying ice can also help relieve the inflammation.
2. Salicylic Acid 2%
Salicylic acid (SA) is an exfoliating agent that effectively supports your skin in shedding dead skin cells and unclog your pores. It penetrates the follicle, encouraging faster skin cell turn-over within the follicle. This de-gunking helps keep the pores clean and fend off whiteheads.
It is also beneficial in reducing excess oil production. Therefore it is an excellent fit for those with acne-prone, oily, and combination skin.
Now, some people consider SA bad for the skin, as it can cause irritation, itching, and redness. These effects can occur but only when SA is taken in inappropriate concentrations.
Also, misuse of SA could disturb the pH level of your skin and cause a burning sensation. So what we must do is to be more careful in using SA.
These are typically milder than other topical acne solutions, and most people don't experience side effects when using SA. But of course, your mileage may vary. Always listen to your skin's needs.
SA is available in many skin care products. However, I prefer buying salicylic acid in its clear form (2%). I have incorporated SA in my nighttime routine years ago, and this has helped me a lot. (Sometimes, if my skin looks very clear, I skip it.) Simply pat one to two drops of salicylic acid to minimize whiteheads and brighten skin over time.
Side effects of SA include dryness, peeling, and flaking. To keep side effects at bay, make sure you apply moisturizer immediately. When using salicylic acid to treat whiteheads, your skin will need your help in restoring its hydration. So, make sure you always finish with moisturizer.
3. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory and a natural antiseptic. This oil counteracts the bacteria, making it a beneficial preventive measure against whiteheads and other blemishes brought on by acne. So, the way tea tree works is by simply removing the cause of your acne — no bacteria, no acne, right?
Tea tree oil is also useful in speeding your skin's healing process. Acting as an antiseptic, it can prevent harmful bacteria from growing in your acne spots.
This oil is available as a very potent extract. Check out my post about tea tree oil to know how you can use it in your routine.
Certain skin care items also contain tea tree oil such as cleansers, masks, and spot treatments, also contain tea tree oil.
Direct topical application of tea tree oil can cause severe skin irritation and even chemical burns. You should always dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil, to name a few.
Patch-testing is a must if you are new to this oil (this applies to all essential oils). I highly recommend checking my tea-tree oil post, so you can be more guided when using this potent essential oil.
4. Witch hazel
Witch hazel is derived from a flowering plant of the same name. Because of its astringent qualities, it is excellent for healing whiteheads. How?
Upon application, witch hazel extract tightens the pores. Then, the material clogging the pore is pushed outwards.
Plus, witch hazel has been known to be highly effective in removing excess oils, which as we already know is a circumstance for whiteheads to appear.
You can find witch hazel extract in a variety of products like cleansers, toners, and exfoliators.
I prefer using it in its pure form.
You can mix it in DIY products or simply wet a cotton ball with it and apply it on your face once a day. Make sure you moisturize after using it.
Try restricting the use of witch hazel-based products to just once a day as astringents usually cause dryness. Remember to apply moisturizer after using witch hazel. Consider a patch test before introducing it to your skin.
5. Non-comedogenic makeup
While cosmetics don't necessarily cause breakouts, some ingredients and products may increase the chance of clogged pores. And we know that clogged pores are a definite no-no.
If your skin is already prone to bouts of acne, avoid heavy and thick makeup products. The ingredients in these types of cosmetics can be promoting pore blockage. Oil-free and water-based products are less likely to clog pores.
Many dermatologists recommend that you look for products that contain non-comedogenic ingredients. Products usually sport the label "non-comedogenic" and "non-acnegenic," so try and look for those.
In general, it is best to always read the ingredients label of makeup products before buying them. Stay away from toxic chemicals and products loaded with skin irritants.
Patience is vital when dealing with the blemishes characteristic of acne. Don't expect these treatments or any treatments for that matter, to make your whiteheads disappear overnight. You will need to be consistent in applying these treatments along with your solid skin care routine.
Hold on a little longer and one day, you'll find yourself facing the mirror with the best skin you've always dreamed of!
I hope this post was helpful for both those of you looking for whiteheads treatment and those interested in preventive measures.
If you have other hacks to protect your skin from whiteheads, don't hesitate to share them with us in the comment section below.
Stay tuned and take skin care
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