What are whiteheads?


Whiteheads are a form of Acne lesion on the skin. They are tiny white bumps that contain fluid, which is mainly sebum, dirt, and oil. (1)


Why do they occur?

Whiteheads occur when your pores get clogged with sebum, dirt and dead skin cells and a layer of skin forms over these clogged pores making it look like a whitehead on the surface. They might be painful at times, depending on the bacteria it contains.

Prevention is always better than cure so there might be a few steps you could take to prevent whiteheads. Whiteheads are basically another a type of acne called, Comedones.

Comedones are caused by trapped hair follicles. This can be due to excessive oil secretion, along with clogging due to dead skin cells, other debris such as Keratin found in the hair. Usually, there is an excessive release of oils by your skin when you’re a teenager and your hormones are all over the place. That’s when your skin remains oily and your pores get clogged up.(2)

The causal factors can be the following :

  1. Hormonal Imbalance

  2. Thyroid problems

  3. Genetics

  4. Skin care products

That being said, Comedones can be seen in any age group. Most women go through certain milestones in their life which causes fluctuations in their hormones.

These fluctuations can also happen when you have a thyroid problem. The thyroid is responsible for your metabolism and also helps in regulating your hormones.

It’s also seen that there can be a genetic factor to this, if your parents are prone to comedones then you can be too. This applies to Acne and most of the other skin conditions as well.

Although in certain cases this can be a result of the products that you use on your skin.

There are certain elements in the products that you use that cause your skin to remain oily and retain moisture. This could result in causing more comedones because it’s going to add to the oil trapped in your pores.

For example, there are certain products such as Vitamin E oil and cocoa butter that don’t so well for your skin in case its oily. That’s why it’s better to go for non- comedogenic products for your skin.

How to get rid of them?

Whiteheads are stubborn because they are not as inflamed as pimples but they do contain the same fluids as pimples. The number one thing that you need to remember is not to fidget with them. It’s actually best to keep your hands off and clean your skin from the inside, with ample amounts of water, fruits rich in vitamin C.(3)

Other natural remedies you could use are :

Gentle Exfoliating agent – When we say exfoliate, this is not to result in the bursting of these whiteheads. Exfoliating makes the skin smoother and removes dead skin cells. There are exfoliating products that you could get in the market, but you’ll need a more gentle one if you want to treat whiteheads.

Oatmeal as an exfoliator in one of the bests and has zero side effects for most skin types. All you have to do is take a handful of finely ground oatmeal and mix it with honey, or yogurt to form a scrub. Gently scrub your face in circular motions, let it rest for 15 minutes before you wash it away.

Aloe Vera –  Aloe Vera is considered to have anti-inflammatory, and healing properties, that help the skin cool out and regenerate to its natural form.(4)

Tea tree oil– Tea tree oil is another natural ingredient that has anti-inflammatory properties, that help in reducing inflammation in and around the whiteheads.

Steam – Steam is known to open up the clogged pores and free them of all kinds of bacteria and fluid. Heat water in a covered pot, do not let the steam out before you begin the process. Sit opposite the pot and cover with a towel, so that the steam is contained for your face. Do not sit too close to the pot as the steam can be really hot.

Honey- Honey it has anti-inflammatory properties, and it is also known for acting as a peel off for whiteheads

“Other than this it’s advised that people under the age of 24 are asked to go for a clean up once in 2 months and those over the age of 24 need to go for one every once a month.” – Dr. Leena, Dermatologist at Cure Skin.

Struggling with a Skin or Hair issue? Download the CureSkin App now by clicking here to get the best treatment. It’s easy, fast and affordable!



Picture of Dr Jisha Gomez

Dr Jisha Gomez

She is a highly skilled dermatology physician with strong expertise in improving skin & hair health through the development of corrective treatment combinations. She completed her Post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology from Cardiff, UK & Fellowship in Aesthetic Medicine (FAM) from the Institute of Laser and Aesthetic Medicine, Delhi with over 5+ years experience treating skin patients. She has worked in Government hospitals in Trivandrum and Bangalore. She is actively involved in creating awareness for healthy skin, breaking the social stigma based on skin colour & stopping steroid abuse in our country.