Whiteheads: How to Get Rid of Them?

HK Vitals

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Acne is a prevalent skin condition often emerging during puberty due to hormonal changes. While acne may diminish as the body adapts to these hormonal shifts, it can persist into adulthood. Whiteheads, a form of acne, remain beneath the skin, presenting as raised white bumps. Common areas for acne breakouts include the face, chest, back and occasionally shoulders and neck, corresponding to regions with higher concentrations of sebaceous glands responsible for producing skin oil. 

Several factors contribute to whiteheads, such as increased sebum production, the shedding of cells in hair follicles and the influence of androgen hormones, particularly prominent during puberty. When sebum is obstructed and unable to reach the skin surface, clogged pores develop, leading to the formation of whiteheads as sebum accumulates behind these obstructions. Read on to learn about whitehead spot treatment. 

How to Remove Whiteheads?

While it may be tempting to remove an individual whitehead, using extraction tools is the recommended approach, as improper removal can result in unsightly or painful marks. Picking or popping whiteheads with fingers can lead to more harm in the long run by transferring dirt and oil to the area, potentially causing additional clogged pores and subsequent whiteheads.

In addition, popping or picking a whitehead brings one closer to piercing the skin and creating an open wound that can be easily invaded by bacteria. This can cause infection accompanied by inflammation, skin irritation and even scarring. You should generally avoid picking whiteheads unless you are doing it under the guidance of an experienced skincare professional.

If deemed necessary, then some helpful tips for the best way to remove whiteheads include:

  • Beforehand, applying a warm compress or steam can help open the pores.
  • In order to prevent further contamination, hands must be carefully cleaned before trying to pop the whitehead.
  • By using small cotton pads or swabs, one can prevent the extra oil from spilling out onto the skin.
  • Gently pressing on both sides of the whitehead can help pop it, and when doing so remember to not lose patience if a gentle press doesn’t lead to popping.
  • Rinsing and cleaning the area after popping contributes to cleanliness, as well as facilitates healing.

Whitehead Remedies

It is generally advised against picking a whitehead, and instead, a dermatologist may recommend specific treatments to remove or prevent whiteheads effectively. Whiteheads, considered a mild form of acne, are relatively easy to treat with appropriate care.

Topical retinoids stand out as the best treatment for whiteheads. However, it’s important to note that these retinoids typically take about three months to show noticeable effects and should ideally be applied daily, preferably at night. Rather than using retinoids as spot treatments, they are more effective when used consistently to prevent the pore-clogging process.

Given the increased sensitivity to the sun resulting from retinoid use, it’s crucial to wear sunscreen daily to protect the skin. For individuals with inflammatory acne characterized by red bumps and pustules, doctors may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to combat excess skin bacteria, reducing inflammation and redness. Oral antibiotics, although used off-label for acne treatment, can be effective.

In the case of women, combined oral-contraceptive birth control pills are also employed to minimize acne. Seeking guidance from a dermatologist ensures the most suitable and effective treatment plan tailored to individual skin needs.


Whiteheads, common blemishes associated with acne, emerge when pores become clogged, trapping sebum and resulting in the buildup of a white bump on the skin’s surface. It’s crucial to avoid popping whiteheads, as this can spread dirt, oil and bacteria, leading to increased irritation, risk of infection, and the potential for scarring. Home remedies for whiteheads, including skin exfoliation, removing excess oil from pores and antibacterial measures, may assist in addressing factors contributing to acne. Given the individualized nature of acne and its varied effects on each person, suitable products and home remedies may differ. Collaborating with a skincare professional is advisable to identify the most effective products and home remedies tailored to an individual’s specific skin needs.

HK Vitals


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