Nothing is more annoying than a breakout of whiteheads that develop at the worst of times.
Are you looking for a permanent solution to pesky whiteheads? Well, the answer lies in a combination of lifestyle changes, medical treatments and natural remedies.
Whiteheads are a mild form of acne that develop when oil, dead skin cells and bacteria gets trapped in the skin pores.
Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause trigger whiteheads by increasing the amount of sebum production in the skin pores.
In this article, we have listed all the possible ways to get rid of whiteheads – diet and foods, lifestyle modifications, medications and natural remedies.
Foods and Dietary Changes
What you put inside your body is reflected in your skin. There is a strong link between proper nutrition and whiteheads. Scientists have long debated whether food plays a role in formation of whiteheads, and now results show that what you eat has an effect on oil production by the pores and hormones. So, it is recommended to make healthy food choices and stay away from certain whiteheads-triggering foods.
Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits – Green leafy vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are a great source of antioxidants and fiber that help to reduce skin oils naturally, neutralize inflammation and flush out toxins from the system. All of these factors work together to reduce whiteheads. You can also opt for fruit and vegetable juices to improve your skin condition.
How fruits and leafy green vegetables reduce whiteheads?
- Leafy green vegetable such as spinach is loaded with B-vitamins and vitamins E which improves overall skin health and reduces inflammation caused by free radicals which intern reduces whiteheads.
- Dark berries are packed with phytonutrients that prevents the sebum from oxidizing and prevents the blocking of pores.
What are the best leafy green vegetables to prevent whiteheads?
- Romaine lettuce
What are the healthiest antioxidant-rich fruits to prevent whiteheads?
- Citrus fruits
Key Takeaway – Adding leafy green vegetables and fruits to your daily diet not only reduce the appearance of whiteheads, but also prevent future breakouts.
Eat more fatty fish – Fatty fish such as salmon, sardine, tuna, etc. are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that help to clear out whiteheads by reducing inflammation. Nutritionists and doctors recommend consuming at least 2 servings of fatty fish every week to improve overall health and maintain healthy skin.
How omega-3 fatty acids affect whiteheads?
- EPA and DHA in omega-3 fatty acids interact with omega-6 fatty acids to reduce the body’s inflammatory response.
- It also helps to maintain healthy and normal functioning of the immune system and prevents it from attacking the clogged pores to turn them inflamed.
What are the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids?
- Lake trout
Key Takeaway – Omega-3 fatty acids present in fatty fish helps to balance the ration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body and reduces inflammation which is one of the main triggers of whiteheads.
Eat Vitamins A and E-rich foods – Both Vitamin A and vitamin E work wonders for the skin. While vitamin A prevents clogging of pores, vitamin E works as an antioxidant that heals scars leaf behind by whiteheads. Including more vitamins A and E-rich foods in your diet can help to cure whiteheads and acne from the root.
How vitamin A helps to cure whiteheads?
- Vitamin A prevents dead skin cells from depositing in the pores and clogging them.
- It reduces the amount of oil/sebum produced by the skin, which intern reduces pore-clogging.
- It suppresses formation of male hormone androgen which is a major cause of whiteheads.
- It prevents fats from oxidizing, which prevents cell damage and inflammation.
How vitamin E helps cure whiteheads?
- Vitamin E neutralizes the damage caused by free radicals and reduce inflammation.
- It controls oil production of the skin and prevents their oxidation in the air.
- Vitamin E is rapidly absorbed in the skin and it helps to fade away scars and dark spots left by whiteheads.
What are the best food sources of vitamins A and E?
Vitamin A-rich foods:
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark leafy greens
- Sweet red peppers
Vitamin E-rich foods:
- Sunflower seeds
- Olive oil
Key Takeaway – Vitamin A and E-rich foods improve overall skin health and reduce the appearance of whiteheads. But it is best to get vitamin A from foods only, because high doses of vitamin A from supplements can be fatal for your health.
Avoid milk and dairy products – Hormone-filled foods such as cow’s milk, cheese, butter and ice-cream leads to overproduction of sebum which leads to formation of whiteheads. The natural saturated fats in milk and daily also affect your skin. Skim milk contains even more hormones compared to whole milk. So, it is best to cut out cow’s milk completely and substitute it with soy milk or almond milk.
How milk and dairy affects whiteheads?
- Hormone IGF-1 in cow’s milk causes inflammation and eventually leads to acne and whiteheads breakout.
- The natural sugars in milk and dairy products cause insulin spike which is one of the leading causes of whiteheads.
- Dairy produces promote excess sebum production leading to clogged pores and more whiteheads.
Key Takeaway – One of the best ways to prevent whiteheads caused by milk and dairy products it to eliminate them completely from your diet and use almond milk or soy milk instead.
Cut out foods high in sugar and refined carbs – Foods loaded with sugar and refined carbohydrates increase insulin levels in the blood which promotes the body to create more testosterone. Testosterone stimulates the activity of the oil glands and increases the likelihood of whiteheads. So, it is recommended to limit the intake of sugar, sugary foods, sweets, soda, white breads, refined grains, white pasta, etc.
How sugar and refined carbs affect whiteheads?
- A diet rich in sugar and high-glycemic foods aggravate whiteheads by triggering growth hormones and sex hormones.
- Excess sugar in the diet increases insulin levels in the blood that leads to inflammation which is one of the main causes of acne and whiteheads.
Key takeaway – Make a few dietary changes and replace refined carbohydrates with healthy complex carbohydrates in order to stabilize the horses that cause breakouts.
Lifestyle Modifications and Personal Hygiene
The best natural way to get rid of whiteheads is to follow a proper skin care regime, maintain hygiene and bring about a few changes in your lifestyle. These tips can also be considered as preventive measures that help to prevent whiteheads from occurring in the first place.
Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated can go a long way in improving overall skin health and reducing whiteheads. Dehydrated skin promotes the production of oil to make up for the lack of moisture in the skin and it can aggravate the whiteheads. So, make it a point to drink plenty of water every day.
How water helps to reduce whiteheads?
- Water helps to flush out internal toxins from the system and clear out the skin.
- Increased water intake also boosts blood flow throughout the skin which also helps to reduce whiteheads.
Key Takeaway – Substitute sugary sodas, fruit juices and energy drinks with water and stay hydrated through the day in order to prevent toxins from building by in the body.
Exercise regularly – Exercise and physical activity helps to cut out stress which is one of the main contributing factors of whiteheads. Exercise also increases oxygen and blood supply to the skin cells and helps to carry away waste from the cells. So, make it a point to sweat out for at least 30 minutes every day.
How exercises help to reduce whiteheads?
- Exercise helps to regulate hormones which plays a major role in reducing the breakout of whiteheads.
- Exercise helps to reduce stress level and cortisol level in your blood which in turn reduces overproduction of sebum and controls whiteheads.
- Exercise flushes out toxins from the body in the form of sweat which is also beneficial for controlling whiteheads.
What are the best exercises for reducing whiteheads?
- You can opt for yoga and stretching routine.
- Jogging and running are great cardio options.
- You can also incorporate some strength training in your routine.
Key Takeaway – Devote 30 minutes to exercise on a daily basis in order to reduce stress, regulate hormones and alleviate whiteheads.
Wash your face twice daily – Wash your face twice a day using a mild soap or cleanser in order to remove dirt, oil and dead skin cells from the skin and prevent the clogging of pores. Washing your face too frequently or rubbing it too vigorously can make whiteheads worse.
Why is it recommended to wash your face twice a day?
- Whiteheads develop when excess oil, bacteria and dead skin ells get trapped in the pores. Washing your face using a gentle, non-oily face wash 2 times a day helps to eliminate the build-up of these substances.
- Although, you might be tempted to wash your face more often to remove oil, but excessing walking can dry out the skin, thus promoting it to produce more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture and lead to more whiteheads.
- You face requires a certain amount of natural oils to stay moisturized. Washing your face two times a day he just removes the excess oil from the skin.
Key Takeaway – This rule of skin care holds true for all skin-types and skin conditions. Washing your face once in the morning and once at night will prevent the development of whiteheads effectively without drying out the skin.
Don’t forget to moisturize your skin – Because whiteheads are caused by excessive oil production by the pores so most people refrain from moisturizing their skin. But this measure backfires and triggers the skin to produce more oil to make up for the lack of moisture. In addition, commercial whiteheads creams and ointments dry out the skin, so it is important to keep it moisturized using an oil-free moisturizer.
What type of moisturizer is best suited for whiteheads prone skin?
- It is best to use an oil-free and noncomedogenic moisturizers that won’t clog the pores and irritate the skin.
- Avoid moisturizers containing petroleum jelly or mineral oils. There products increase the build-up off oil and dirt in the pores.
- Moisturizers come in different forms – gels, lotions and creams. People with oily skin should opt for gels or light lotions and avoid heavy creams.
Key Takeaway – Use a non-oily and noncomedogenic moisturizing lotion to moisturize your skin and prevent the production of sebum and oil.
Exfoliate one to three times a week – Periodic exfoliation regime is one of the best ways to reduce whiteheads naturally. Exfoliation help to get rid of dead skin cells, dirt and oil that gets trapped in the pores and clog them. It is recommended to exfoliate your skin at least three times a week using a mild natural scrub or commercial exfoliation product for best results.
How to exfoliate your skin to reduce whiteheads?
- People with whiteheads and acne should opt for an exfoliation product containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid.
- Wet your face and apply the exfoliator in soft circular motions to your face, specially your nose, forehead and chin which are the main problem areas.
- Massage your face with your fingertips for a few minutes and then wash off with water.
- Don’t scrub your face with an exfoliating sponge or washcloth. It will make the whiteheads problem worse and irritate the skin.
Key Takeaway – Exfoliation is an important part of your daily skin care routine that helps to remove dead skin cells and unclog the pores which in turn prevent further breakouts.
Use oil-free makeup – If you have oil and whiteheads prone skin then it is best to opt for oil-free and noncomedogenic makeup that won’t clog the pores and lead to breakouts. Heavy makeup worsens the already existing whiteheads and trigger new breakouts.
How to choose your makeup to prevent whiteheads?
- Look for noncomedogenic foundations and face powder to prevent clogging of pores.
- Stay away from thick, greasy, solid and creamy foundations.
- Opt for oil-free foundation and powder.
- Steer clear of alcohol-based and fragrance-loaded makeup.
- Use a combination of concealer and foundation to keep it light.
- Choose powder based blushes and bronzers over gels or liquids.
- Apply a layer of topical medication before applying makeup to avoid breakouts.
Key Takeaway – You should be extra careful while choosing your makeup if you have oily or whiteheads prone skin. Make it a point to use oil-free and noncomedogenic products.
Remove makeup before going to bed – You might be too tired after a night out or party but make it a point to remove all traces of makeup from your face before going to bed if you want to stay away from whiteheads and acne.
Why should you remove makeup before going to bed?
- Makeup attracts dirt, bacteria and pollution throughout the day, and leaving it on your skin throughout the night leads to clogging of pores which in turn causes whiteheads.
- Layers of makeup on your skin prevents it from breathing and doesn’t allow the skin to repair which further aggravates breakouts.
Key Takeaway – Makeup clogs the skin pores and contribute to the occurrence of whiteheads and acne. So, use a good toner or cleansing solution to remove make up from your face and wash your face with a mild face wash before going to bed.
Wash your hair frequently – The natural oils produced by your scalp can run down to your face and cause whiteheads on the forehead. Washing your hair once or twice a week and keeping it clean reduces the likelihood of whiteheads around your hairline.
How should you maintain your hair care routine to reduce whiteheads?
- Wash your hair thoroughly using a mild shampoo to get rid of dandruff and traces of styling products.
- Avoid using oily and greasy hair products.
- Wash your hair every other day using a mild shampoo.
- Try to maintain a good balance between healthy hair and healthy skin.
- Don’t let your hair fall on your face.
- Go easy on styling products such as hair gels, pomades, etc.
Key Takeaway – The natural oils from your scalp can get on your face and block the pores which can lead to whiteheads. So, keep your hair clean and oil-free by washing it using a gentle shampoo.
Change your pillow cases periodically – Change your pillow case once in a week without failure in order to prevent the breakout of whiteheads. Pillowcases transfer dirt and oil to your skin and act as a breeding ground for bacteria that causes breakouts.
Why should you change your pillowcases frequently to reduce acne?
- When your pillowcases are not changed frequently and not washed properly, a build-up of dirt, sweat and oils from on them. when you rest your face on the pillow, the dirt and oil is transferred to your skin, which can clog the pores and cause whiteheads.
- If you use thick or greasy hair products, then you can be sure that the oils form your hair sit on your pillowcase and transfer to your face.
Key Takeaway – No matter what the material of your pillowcase – cotton, silk or satin, if it is not changed frequently then it can increase the likelihood of whiteheads and acne.
Medication and Natural Remedies
Whiteheads are a mild form of acne that can be treated effectively with over-the-counter topical medicines and home remedies. Ointments and cream containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid fights whiteheads causing bacteria, while natural remedies exfoliate the skin and help to get rid of accumulated dead skin cells and oil that clog the pores and cause whiteheads.
Medical Treatment for Whiteheads – There are a number of topical and oral medicines for curing whiteheads. While most of the medicines are available over-the-counter in pharmacies, certain antibiotics may require prescription.
- Benzoyl peroxide – Benzoyl peroxide is available in the form of gels, lotions, soaps and liquids. It works by unclogging the skin pores and preventing the bacteria from growing. Benson peroxide medicines are available in different strengths.
- Salicylic acid – Salicylic acid in an active ingredient in non-prescription acne and whiteheads medications. It works by drying up the whiteheads. It may also cause the top layer of the skin to peel.
- Glycol acid is a chemical skin exfoliant that promotes cell turnover and prevents the dead skin cells from clogging the pores. It can be used for all-over treatment or spot treatment for whiteheads.
- Retinoids – Retinoids are derived from vitamin A. Topical retinoid unclog the pores and helps to clear out the skin. It also prevents whiteheads from recurring. There are a number of over-the-counter skin creams that contain retinoids. Your dermatologist can also prescribe and prescription strength retinoid cream for fighting whiteheads.
- Isotretinoin – It is a prescription medication that works by reducing the body’s production of sebum which clogs pores and cause whiteheads. It also helps to reduce inflammation.
- Antibiotics – Doctors prescribe topical and oral antibiotics to treat severe whiteheads. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that causes whiteheads and improves the appearance of your skin.
Key Takeaway – Medical treatment for whiteheads depends on a number of factors such as presence of inflammation or bacteria so it is best to consult a dermatologist before using any medicine.
Natural Remedies for Whiteheads – Whiteheads can be prevented and treated at home effectively using home remedies that makes use of herbs, essential oils and roots. There remedies work by opening up the clogged pores, reducing sebum production and exfoliating dead skin cells and dirt from the skin surface.
Tea tree oil – Tea tree essential oil is an effective natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide that reduces inflammation and helps to get rid of whiteheads without causing any side effects. It works as a natural astringent that reduces oiliness of the skin and prevents clogging of pores.
Usage: Dip a cotton swab in water and then add three drops of tea tree oil on it. Apply it on the whiteheads and leave it on for 30 minutes. Wash off with cold water. Repeat this remedy twice every day.
Facial steam – Steam is one of the best natural treatment for blackheads and whiteheads. Facial steam opens up the clogged pores and looses the buildup of oil, dirt and dead skin cells, thus, making it easier to remove them through exfoliation.
Usage: Boil some water in a large pan. Turn off the heat and bring your face close to the pan. Hold a towel over your head to trap the steam. Allow the steam to soak into your face for 10 minutes. Now, exfoliate your skin using a mild scrub and pat dry your face with a towel.
Baking Soda – baking soda is a gentle exfoliating agent that helps to remove oil, dirt and dead skin cells from the skin without irritating it. It also maintains the pH balance of the skin which reduces the likelihood of breakouts.
Usage: Take a tablespoon of baking soda in a glass bowl and add some water to it to form a thick paste. Apply it evenly on the affected areas, wait for a few minutes and then wash off with water. Repeat this remedy 2 to 3 times in a week till you get desired result.
Sugar Scrub – Homemade sugar scrub also acts as a wonderful exfoliating agent that removes excess oil and debris trapped in the pores without drying out your skin. It is mild on the skin and can be used by people with sensitive skin.
Usage: Add one tablespoon each of sugar and honey to a bowl, mix well and apply it to your face. Gently massage in circular motion and leave it on for 5 minutes. Wash your face with cold water. Repeat this remedy twice a week for best results.
Lemon Juice – Lemon juice is a rich source of alpha hydroxy acids that exfoliates the skin and promotes cell regeneration. The astringent properties of lemon juice also help to get rid of excess oil and sebum and prevents the clogging of pores.
Usage: Squeeze the juice out of a lemon and store it in a glass bowl. Dip a cotton ball into the lemon juice and dab it onto the affected areas of the face. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash your face with cold water. Repeat this remedy once daily before going to bed. Don’t go out in the sun after applying lemon juice to your skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works as a natural astringent that removes excess oil from the skin. Its antiseptic and antibacterial properties also help to fight whiteheads causing bacteria.
Usage: Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in one cup of water, dab a cotton ball into the solution and apply it to your face. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water. Repeat this remedy few times a week.
Cinnamon – Cinnamon powder is an excellent natural scrub that helps to reduce blackheads and whiteheads by unclogging the pores and removing dead skin cells and oil from the skin surface. It also promotes cell regeneration. The antimicrobial properties of cinnamon fight the whiteheads causing bacteria.
Usage: Take a teaspoon each of cinnamon powder and oat flour in a bowl and add some warm water to it to make a thick paste. Apply it evenly on your face and massage for a few minutes using soft circular motion with your finger tips. Leave it on for another 10 minutes and wash off with water. Repeat this remedy 2 to 3 times week till you see noticeable results.
Strawberries – Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients that prevent whiteheads by neutralizing inflammation. the slightly abrasive texture of strawberries act as a mild scrub that exfoliates the skin and removes trapped dirt, oil and dead skin cells that clog the pores. Salicylic acid in strawberries dries up the whiteheads.
Usage: Mash a couple of ripe strawberries to make a thick paste. Add one tablespoon of honey to it and mix well. Apply this mixture on your face and massage in circular motion for 5 minutes. Leave it on for another 15 minutes and then wash off with water. Repeat this remedy once every week till you get desired results.
Gram flour – Gram flour or “besan” acts like bloating paper and helps to absorb excess oil/sebum from the skin surface. It also works as an excellent exfoliating agent the helps in deep cleansing the skin and removing dead skin cells.
Usage: Add two tablespoons of gram flour to a bowl and add sufficient amount of yogurt to it to form a thick paste. Spread this mixture evenly on your face and let it dry out completely. Wash your face with water and scrub off the mask. Repeat this remedy 2 to 3 times a week.
Oatmeal – The slightly coarse nature of oatmeal makes it a wonderful natural exfoliant that helps to get rid of accumulated dead skin cells and dirt that gets trapped in the pores and cause whiteheads. It also absorbs excess oil from the skin and shrinks the pores.
Usage: Take a tablespoon of powdered oatmeal and add some water to it to from a thick paste. Apply it evenly on your face, massage in circular motion for 5 minutes and then let it dry off completely. Scrub it off with water and dry your face with a towel.
Key Takeaway – Home remedies using natural ingredients can treat mild cases of whiteheads by controlling sebum production and unclogging the pores through exfoliation. But these procedures may take time to show result, so you have to stick to the remedies with patience.
If you are suffering from severe whiteheads or if your whiteheads don’t respond to over-the-counter medicines and natural remedies, then get in touch with a dermatologist who will prescribe both oral and topical prescription medications to address the problem.