Whiteheads occur when hair follicles get clogged with sebum (skin oil), bacteria and dead skin cells. Whiteheads are a form of acne, only milder in severity. They appear as white or yellowish bumps closed on all sides.
If you notice any white, yellow or skin-colored pores sticking out from the skin, then you may more likely be looking at whiteheads.
Whiteheads are quite common among teenagers and younger adults as this demography mostly undergoes hormonal changes.
This does not mean that people of other age groups are immune to whiteheads. These acne variants can develop even in adults.
In fact, every individual is likely to have experienced whiteheads at some point in their lives.
Whiteheads mostly occur on the face, particularly around the mouth and on the nose. However; cheeks, shoulders, arms, back, neck, and chest, are equally prone to developing whiteheads.
Whiteheads can develop wherever oil glands reside in the body. The sebum secreted by these glands is essential to keep the skin hydrated and moist. Oil glands are therefore present throughout the body.
Given this anatomical make, whiteheads can develop under the arms (armpits), or on the scalp, thighs, ears, butt and even in the genital areas.
Though annoying, whiteheads are not contagious. They do not have the capacity to spread to another person upon skin-to-skin contact.
Clogged or inflamed hair follicles are the root cause of whiteheads. Inflammation can result from any of the following reasons:
An increase in the production of sebum – the oily secretion from sebaceous glands
An abnormality in the production of keratin – a protein that helps build skin, hair and nails
Increased presence of acne-causing bacteria
Pores can clog up due to various reasons.
Some key causes include:
Hormonal changes. These are well-known triggers of acne.
Increase in sebum production. Your body produces greater quantities of sebum during certain periods of life. This increase in sebum can cause pore clogging. Sebum production usually increases during menstruation, pregnancy and puberty.
Contraceptives. You may be more prone to whiteheads if your birth control pills contain progesterone alone. This formulation causes hormonal changes, which can contribute to formation of whiteheads.
Women that cease to be on birth control may sometimes develop whiteheads during their menstruation.
Heredity. Research shows that a family history of acne can result in early formation of acne.
Pressurized areas. Whiteheads can also form on areas that undergo friction. For example, areas that bear athletic gear can develop whiteheads. Areas such as the chin, can develop whiteheads from friction by gear such as a chin-strap.
Whiteheads do not need expert diagnosis. It is fairly easy to identify these acne variants.
Whiteheads, unlike blackheads, are white, yellow, or skin-colored. Blackheads are darker because they let in air. Whiteheads, on the contrary, are closed bumps. As air does not pass through them, they are either yellowish or white.
Whiteheads are mild in severity. As a result, treatment is easier. One of the primary treatments that dermatologists usually recommend for whiteheads is a topical retinoid.
Topical retinoids are medications derived chemically from Vitamin A. They are widely used to address different skin conditions, including acne, aging skin and psoriasis.
The general treatment routine with topical retinoids involves a single application daily. Retinoid is usually applied 20 to 30 minutes after face cleansing.
Retinoids work by breaking down whitehead bumps and clearing pore clogging. Retinoid treatment must be accompanied by the use of a sunscreen.
Skin tends to become more sensitive to the sun upon treatment with topical retinoids. A sunscreen offers adequate protection from such damage.
Another line of treatment for whiteheads involves salicylic acid. This component is available as an OTC lotion or cleanser.
Salicylic acid works by breaking down the surface layer of damaged skin. It then dissolves dead cells clogging hair follicles and frees up the pores, clearing whiteheads in the process.
Azelaic acid is efficient at destroying microorganisms on the skin. It can be obtained naturally from grains such as rye, wheat and barley.
If whiteheads are not eliminated with these medications, dermatologists may recommend stronger treatments, including:
Antibiotics – Oral antibiotics are given to reduce whiteheads
Prescription-grade retinoids – This class of retinoids is stronger than basic retinoids and therefore can reduce whiteheads more effectively
Microdermabrasion – This procedure involves removal of the top layers of the damaged areas of the skin with a specialized instrument. This process eliminates clogging and clears whiteheads.
Chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing may be prescribed if whiteheads are still not cleared.
If your dermatologist has prescribed any of the above treatments for addressing whiteheads, then ensure that the treatment is accompanied by a gentle skincare routine. A soothing and nourishing routine is important to keep skin hydrated and prevent further breakouts. It also helps prevents worsening of existing whiteheads.
The skincare line by WOW Skin Science is a great choice for a healthy skincare routine. Their skincare products are completely natural with plant actives. They are paraben and sulfate-free and cruelty-free too.
Prevention is always better than cure. Take steps that can prevent formation of whiteheads. Factors such as hormonal changes cannot be controlled, which makes preventing whiteheads difficult.
Still, taking these measures can help minimize the impact of whiteheads:
Use moisturizer regularly. Regular application keeps the skin hydrated. If your skin becomes dry, then the body secretes more oil to preserve skin’s moisture. This increase in skin oil can clog pores, increasing the risk of whiteheads.
A moisturizer is more important if you are following any whitehead treatment explained above. These treatments can make your skin dry. With a well-formulated moisturizer, you can reduce symptoms such as dryness and resultant irritation. Regular application also ensures that your skin tolerates the above treatments, which increases the efficacy of the treatment. Use an oil-free moisturizer to prevent increasing the oil content further in your skin.
Wash your hair. Oil from your hair can cause clogging of hair follicles, increasing the risk of whiteheads.
Take precautions when using makeup. Buy only products that are oil-free and do not clog pores (noncomedogenic).
Remove makeup every night. Use makeup products according to their expiry period. Get rid of creams and lotions if they are a year old. Use them only for a few months. Powders can last up to a year.
Wash makeup applicators after every use to prevent bacterial growth. Avoid sharing your makeup products.
Exfoliate sparingly, perhaps only a few times every week. Exfoliation helps as it removes dead cells and prevents further clogging. But too much exfoliation can irritate skin further, possibly leading to more breakouts.
When using sunscreens, avoid all-over types. These sunscreens can block pores in the face.
Avoid Picking at Whiteheads
Squeezing whiteheads is not a solution though doing so may be immensely tempting. Picking at whiteheads can lead to more serious problems, including:
Inflammation. When you fiddle with whiteheads, you are using pressure on the skin, which can cause inflammation. Your skin is relatively delicate compared to your nails, which are much stronger. This pressure ruptures the skin, increasing the risk of inflammation.
Infection. When you pop or squeeze whiteheads, you are breaking open the whitehead. This opening can become a gateway for bacteria, which can lead to infection.
Scarring. Applying too much pressure to get rid of whiteheads can lead to skin scarring. If the whiteheads are deeply embedded in the skin, then applying pressure is inadequate to remove the whiteheads. You’ll only end up damaging the skin further.
Follow Hygienic Habits to Manage Whiteheads Better
It is important to ensure that whiteheads are not subject to any irritation. This can cause further breakouts. A few things that can help include:
Avoid touching the whiteheads to prevent infection and skin damage
Exercise care when shaving
Clean items that come in contact with your face. These include phones, helmets, pillowcases and sunglasses
Whiteheads may heal on their own. But this can take time, which can go up to 7 days. Whether you have whiteheads or not, following a healthy skincare routine always helps.
Here are some of the leading products in skincare that may help you set a skincare routine that is perfect for your skin. Find details of the products such as ingredients, benefits, and key features.
Ubtan Face Wash
Packed with the secrets of Ayurveda – ancient health science of India – this Ubtan facewash is an all-natural product. It clears clogged pores and removes impurities embedded deep within the pores, giving a complete makeover to your face in the process.
This facewash works as a clarifier, removes fine lines, and controls excess oil production, which reduces the risk of whiteheads. It restores the natural suppleness of skin over time.
Turmeric extracts in the formulation have antiseptic properties, which prevent growth of bacteria. These extracts also remove tan.
Saffron extracts remove dryness, which keeps sebum production in check, Chickpea flour is rich in zinc. It removes dead skin cells and even fine hair from the skin. Almond extract is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin E, which prevents dryness and fine lines.
Packed with complete goodness, this Ubtan facewash is the best way to start an intense yet gentle skincare routine.
Coconut Perfecting Cream
A reduced capability of skin to self-repair can increase the risk of acne breakouts, which is why strengthening skin’s natural protective barrier is crucial. The right way to go about this goal is to use Coconut Perfecting Cream.
This cream is enriched with natural ingredients that strengthen skin’s natural defense, and repel skin irritants. Moreover, this formulation is amazingly non-sticky and non-greasy. Enjoy the feel of the cream on your body as it gets absorbed into the skin. Easy absorption helps retain skin moisture.
When it comes to skin benefits of this cream, there are many. Coconut oil, for starters, hydrates the skin and brightens it. Hyaluronic acid maintains hydration, allowing skin to breathe and shine. Tripeptides increase skin protection while Vitamin E strengthens skin’s self-repair capability.
Preserving the efficacy of the product is the airless container, which prevents contamination.
Aloe Vera extract cleans pores keeping them clog-free. Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial that fights acne-causing bacteria.
This power-packed army of natural goodness is your first line of defense against acne.
Coconut Hydrating Foaming Facewash
One of the best skincare practices while treating or preventing acne is to remove makeup completely. No matter how stubborn your makeup is, this facewash, powered by the hydrating effects of coconut, makes removal a breeze!
Use this facewash as part of your exfoliation routine. The coconut water in the formulation lends its richness of minerals, antioxidants and minerals, which balances your skin’s pH. Aloe Vera extract provides hydration.
Vitamin E content improves skin’s elasticity and keeps it refreshingly moisturized. Hyaluronic acid strengthens skin’s collagen structure, a body protein that is key to skin’s health and its natural properties. Hyaluronic acid soothes the skin keeping irritation away.
The built-in face brush helps you spread the facewash evenly over the face so that it penetrates deeper and starts its healing and strengthening action faster. The brush facilitates deeper cleansing, which removes buildup deep within the pores.
This soothing and rejuvenating formula reduces acne breakouts by preventing irritation and strengthens the skin at its roots.
Limit your intake of junk foods to prevent whiteheads. These foods have aa high glycemic index (GI), which can increase sebum production, thereby increasing your risk of acne. Bread, white rice, sugary beverages, and cookies are some examples of high-GI foods.
Whiteheads can be annoying. Even if you have never experienced whiteheads as a teenager, you may still develop them as an adult.
The solution then is to reduce your risk of whiteheads. You can address causative factors that are within your control to minimize acne risk. A healthy diet and right choice of skincare products can help you treat/ prevent whiteheads more effectively.
If you want your skincare routine to be more gentle, natural and positively transforming, then skincare products from WOW Skin Science may interest you. Explore their wide range of products, from cleansers to moisturizers, facewash and serums. Products are chemical-free, vegan, cruelty-free, use plant actives and botanicals for complete skincare.