What are Whiteheads?
A Whitehead is a type of acne that occurs when dead skin cells, skin oil (sebum), and bacteria clog skin pores. This is also seen as an enlarged hair follicle caused by the entrapment of bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells. Whiteheads are also known as closed comedones. Before we dive into the home remedies for whiteheads, we will discuss the causes of whiteheads. After that, we’ll mention some home remedies for whiteheads and some prevention tips.
Causes of Whiteheads
The sebaceous glands present under the skin surface release oils called sebum. The purpose of this is to keep the skin oily and moisturized. However, there are specific points where these sebaceous glands release their oils. These points are called pilosebaceous units (PSUs). The pilosebaceous units are most common on the face, chest, and back, all of which are places where acne can occur. Whitehead occurs when skin oil and dead skin cells get trapped in the hair follicles, clogging up the pilosebaceous unit. So, bacteria present on the skin surface get attracted to this area and begin to thrive. The presence of bacteria alerts the immune cells, which inadvertently causes inflammation. This inflammation appears as a raised white bump on the skin surface, hence, whiteheads.
A Whitehead can appear anywhere on the body. This includes the particularly oily parts of the body, the nose, forehead, and chin.
Home Remedies for Whiteheads
Exposing the skin to steam helps open clogged skin pores. Steaming is very efficient, as whiteheads are caused by the clogging up of skin pores, and steaming opens up skin pores. To do this, put some boiled water into a bowl and hold the affected area of your body over it. In cases where the affected area is located at the upper part of the body, say the head or neck, you can form a steam tent by putting a towel over your head while it’s above the hot water. This concentrates the steam to only the upper part of your body.
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and is known for its astringent properties. It is capable of drying out and shrinking skin pores, thereby eliminating whiteheads. In addition, it also has some antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties making it a very good combatant against whiteheads. To use this, mix two tablespoons of vinegar with warm water and apply to the affected area. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, and then rinse off.
Lemon oil works against whiteheads just like apple cider vinegar. It’s very acidic and works to dry out the skin and soak up excess oil. Just like apple cider vinegar, it possesses antibacterial properties which help reduce inflammation. In addition, its astringent properties also make it a good remedy for skin acne. Lemon juice can be applied to the affected area, diluted or undiluted. It’s best to use lemon juice if you’re allergic to vinegar.
Honey is popular for its powerful antibacterial properties. A plus to using honey against whiteheads is that its thick and sticky quality allows it to stay in place for longer, enabling it to go deep into the skin. To use this, warm two tablespoons of honey in the microwave till it’s warm to the touch. After cleaning the skin, apply to the skin and wait 15 minutes before washing off.
Tea tree oil is both antibacterial and antimicrobial. It’s a vote component in many facial cleansers, washes, and toners. You can purchase pure tea tree oil at most drug stores or online and apply it directly to the skin.
Witch hazel also causes skin pores to shrink, limiting the chances of infections. It causes the trapped skin cells and oil to be expelled to the surface, eliminating the whitehead. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to remove excess oil. Astringents can cause irritation, so it’s preferable to use them once daily.
Salicylic acid decreases the production of skin oil and can help push the materials in clogged pores to the skin’s surface. In addition, salicylic acid is also an astringent agent which helps soak up excess oils and get rid of dead skin cells. Salicylic acid is very common in most anti-acne products, including facials, creams, and soaps.
Other ways to handle whiteheads include;
- trying not to touch the area
- avoiding cosmetics, laundry, and cleaning products with irritants, such as fragrances or dyes
- using only non-comedogenic, oil-free cosmetics and skin products
- avoid squeezing, picking, or trying to pop whiteheads
- avoiding places with polluted air or increasing skin hygiene if exposed to heavy air pollution
- washing skin thoroughly when in humid areas
- avoiding tight-fitting clothes, uniforms, or sports equipment
- trying not to scrub or aggressively cleanse the skin
- avoiding sunburn
- washing the face before bed and removing any form of makeup
- showering or bathing regularly
- keeping long hair away from the skin.
Finally, a combination of self-care, self-awareness, and the home remedies for whiteheads listed above can go a long way in managing cases of whiteheads.