Whiteheads are a type of acne that forms when the skin’s dead cells, bacteria, and oil get trapped within pores. They are small white bumps on the skin and are found especially around the forehead, chin, and nose. They generally do not get inflamed, red or get filled with pus. One or two whiteheads may not be a cause for deep worry but when they become many on your chin, they make one self-conscious.
Sebum is oil produced by the skin to keep it from getting dry and for protection. Whiteheads result when sebum is produced excessively and combines with dead skin cells to clog the follicles. This acne type, unlike blackheads, remain white since the hair follicles remain closed preventing the bacteria and clogged oil from oxidizing due to air exposure.
Whiteheads mostly appear on the nose and chin since they produce more oil. There is also a tendency to touch both the nose and chin frequently which could spread bacteria and infect the pores.
- Hormonal imbalance. During puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, there is an increased production of sebum by the pores. This increased production clogs pores leading to their development.
- Birth control pills can also contribute to their appearance since they increase hormone levels.
- Genetics is also another reason why people get whiteheads. If someone from your family has them then chances are likely you will too.
- Using harsh products like facial cleansers or over-exfoliating could trigger them. Too much oil is produced by the skin as it tries to protect itself from damages to the outer skin.
- Clogged pores by dead skin cells and bacteria. This cause white lamps to form on your chin.
It is important not to confuse whiteheads with pustules. Pustules form when clogged pores become inflamed or infected. This results in a sore red bump full of pus (yellow discharge). The tip usually has a white head or white tip. It is, therefore, crucial to treat them on the chin as fast as possible before they turn into pustules.
This is a mild form of acne and therefore easy to treat. One can use over the counter medicine to treat the white bumps on the skin or use prescription ointments. Do not be fooled by anyone, it’s not possible to get rid of whiteheads overnight. It sometimes takes more than seven weeks for one method to work, if they do not improve contact a doctor for other options.
1. Topical or oral prescriptions
This can be prescribed by the doctor to help clear up the whiteheads. The medication given will depend on how severe they are. Antibiotics for example when prescribed help in the destruction of any excess bacteria while reducing redness and inflammation.
One can use products that help reduce oil production like benzoyl peroxide. Other whitehead removal products contain salicylic acid which helps break them down.
They remove dead skin cells and unblock clogged pores. They contain vitamin A and should be used as a daily cream. If you have sensitive skin, wear sunscreen when using retinoids.
Birth control pills.
This can be used by young girls and women. Oral contraceptives contain progesterone and estrogen that help lower androgen levels in the body. The androgen hormone when in excess, lead to excessive sebum production, which leads to whiteheads.
This is used when the whiteheads cause scarring. Isotretinoin can be used but has severe side effects including worsening of the condition or painful and cracking dry skin.
4. Gentle exfoliants
They make the skin smooth and help remove dead skin cells. Choose a gentle formula that will not cause dryness and irritation.
These are affordable and easy to use. Make sure not to use ingredients that could damage your skin.
1. Baking soda
The rough texture exfoliates the skin and removes dead skin. This reduces the shining and oiliness of your skin. To make the mask, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with warm water and make a thick paste. Massage the paste gently to your chin and leave for 30 minutes maximum, then rinse off. Use twice a week.
Do not use baking soda if your skin is sensitive.
2. Manuka honey
Manuka honey has a higher concentration of bacteria-killing compounds. It helps kill bacteria that cause whiteheads. Apply directly to your skin by massaging a small amount on the chin. Place a warm damp towel on the area for 30 minutes then rinse off with warm water.
To unclog dead skin pores, add sugar and make an exfoliating mask.
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains antiseptic properties. It helps cleanse the skin of sebum and bacteria buildup. Dilute the apple cider vinegar with equal parts water. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture to your chin. Use it daily for best results. The apple cider vinegar will regulate ph. levels on your skin and prevent further outbreaks.
4. Witch hazel
It gets rid of bacteria from clogged pores. It also reduces inflammation. Dab some witch hazel on the chin using a cotton ball.
Skin care tips to prevent whiteheads
- Wash your face every evening using mild products and after working out or playing sports.
- Use lukewarm water when cleaning
- Stay away from harsh scrubs
- Exfoliate twice a week to get rid of dead skin and unclog pores. Avoid over-exfoliating since it can cause further irritation and worsen the whiteheads.
- Use sunscreens designed for the face
- Regularly wash your hair to avoid oil from the hair clogging your facial pores. Products you use for your hair should also be kept away from the face.
- Make sure your phone, pillowcases, and sunglasses are clean when using. This will get rid of bacteria and oils that could clog pores.
- Wash off your make up every night.
- Avoid using products that claim to be ‘noncomedogenic’ or ‘oil-free’ since they will clog your pores.
- Do not squeeze or pop them
- Shave carefully with a new blade
- Do not expose your skin to too much sun
- BioClarity: What are Whiteheads and How Do I Treat Them?
- Healthline: 12 Ways to Get Rid of Whiteheads
- Livestrong: How to Get Rid of White Heads on the Face