Understanding Whiteheads: Causes, Treatments, and Home Remedies

  • 6 months ago
4 minute read.
Understanding Whiteheads: Causes, Treatments, and Home Remedies

Whiteheads. Acne. Chicken skin. Whatever white bumps on your face, arms, and body, whatever you call them, can be very annoying. Even if you use doctor-recommended retinol anti-aging creams or follow a strict self-care routine that includes a weekly detoxifying clay mask, whiteheads can be a challenge to treat.

Whiteheads are a type of acne blemish that develops when dead skin cells, excess oil (sebum), and bacteria become trapped within a hair follicle or pore. They are characterized by small, flesh-colored, or white bumps on the skin with a closed pore opening. Unlike blackheads, which have an open pore and appear dark due to oxidation, whiteheads are closed off, giving them their pale or whitish appearance.

The formation of whiteheads typically occurs when the sebaceous glands in the skin produce excessive oil, leading to clogged pores. The trapped oil and dead skin cells create an environment for bacteria to thrive, resulting in inflammation and the formation of a whitehead. They commonly occur on the face, particularly on the forehead, nose, and chin, but can also be found on the neck, chest, shoulders, and back.

What is the difference between whiteheads and blackheads?

Whiteheads (Closed Comedones): Whiteheads are small, round, or slightly raised bumps on the skin. They are closed comedones, meaning the pore opening is blocked with dead skin cells, oil (sebum), and bacteria. The blockage prevents air from reaching the pore, which is why whiteheads appear as flesh-colored or slightly whitish bumps on the skin's surface.

Blackheads (Open Comedones): Blackheads, on the other hand, are open comedones. They are small, dark, or black dots on the skin's surface. Blackheads form when the pore opening is partially blocked by dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria. The partial blockage allows air to reach the pore, and the melanin pigment in the trapped oil oxidizes, resulting in a characteristic dark color.

[Also check: Easy remedies for blackheads]





Small, round, or slightly raised flesh-colored or whitish bumps

Small, dark or black dots on the skin's surface

Pore Blockage

Completely blocked pore opening

Partially blocked pore opening

Exposure to Air

Not exposed to air

Exposed to air, causing oxidation


Flesh-colored or whitish

Dark or black


Closed comedones

Open comedones


Pores blocked with dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria

Pores partially blocked with dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria

Should you squeeze whiteheads?

It is generally advised not to squeeze whiteheads for several reasons.

  • By squeezing a whitehead, you risk introducing bacteria into the open pore, which can lead to infection. It can further aggravate the skin condition and potentially cause additional problems.
  • Squeezing can irritate the skin. The skin is a delicate organ, while nails are relatively stronger. Applying excessive pressure to your nails to pop a whitehead can cause inflammation, redness, and even pain.
  • If you apply too much force while squeezing, you may end up damaging your skin. It is especially true for deeper whiteheads that are not easily extracted. Applying excessive pressure can result in trauma to the skin, potentially leading to scarring or hyperpigmentation.

How do you treat whiteheads?

It's always best to consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice. Here are some general tips for treating whiteheads:

  • Cleanse your skin: Use a gentle cleanser to wash your face twice a day, morning and night. Avoid harsh or abrasive products that irritate the skin and worsen the condition.
  • Exfoliate regularly: Exfoliation helps in getting rid of dead skin cells and unclogging pores. Choose a mild exfoliating product with ingredients like salicylic acid or glycolic acid, which can help prevent the formation of whiteheads. Be cautious not to over-exfoliate, which can lead to dryness and irritation.
  • Use topical treatments: Over-the-counter creams or gels containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can be effective in treating whiteheads. These ingredients help to kill bacteria, reduce inflammation, and unclog pores. Apply the treatment directly to the affected areas, following the instructions on the product.
  • Don't pick or squeeze: It can be tempting to pick or squeeze whiteheads, but doing so can lead to further inflammation, scarring, and potential infection. It's best to avoid touching your face and let the treatment do its work.
  • Use non-comedogenic products: When you use skincare or cosmetic products, some of them can block the pores on your skin, which can cause whiteheads. Non-comedogenic products are less likely to block your pores, so they are a better choice for your skin.

[You may also like: 6 Everyday ingredients that are excellent exfoliants]

Home remedies

  1. Cleanse your skin twice using a gentle cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
  2. Steam your face for 5-10 minutes to open up pores and loosen debris.
  3. Combine the oatmeal, honey, and lemon juice and use an exfoliating scrub, once or twice a week to remove dead skin cells.
  4. Apply raw honey to affected areas for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off.
  5. Dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil and apply it to whiteheads using a cotton swab. Leave for 15-20 minutes before rinsing.
  6. Apply pure aloe vera gel to whiteheads and leave for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off. Repeat twice a day.
  7. Apply witch hazel using a cotton pad and leave for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off. Repeat once or twice a day.

[Also check: 5 Homemade face packs to give your skin a bright glow]


Dealing with whiteheads can be a frustrating and challenging experience, but it's important to remember that there are effective ways to get rid of them. By adopting a consistent skincare routine, practicing good hygiene, and making some lifestyle adjustments, you can significantly reduce the occurrence of whiteheads and enjoy clearer, healthier skin.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.
Register on The Wellness Corner

Recently Published