Whiteheads are a mild form of acne that is formed when the dead skin cells, bacteria, or oil become trapped within the pores. Understanding how whiteheads are formed would be helpful to prevent breakouts. Clogged pores occur due to hormonal changes and increased production of sebum or oil from the pores in certain stages of your life such as puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy. The over-production of oil causes the pores to get clogged, leading to whiteheads and triggering acne.
Factors contributing to the formation of whiteheads include:
- Intake of contraceptives that contain progesterone only may increase hormone levels and cause acne
- Constant friction in areas like the chin due to a chin-strap on athletic gear
Some evidence suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids and reducing the consumption of dairy products including milk, cheese, cream, and yoghurt, and foods with a high glycemic index (GI) can reduce/prevent acne breakouts.
Foods to avoid: According to American Diabetes Association, the following foods that are high in GIs:
- White breads and bagels
- Sweetened breakfast cereals such as corn flakes, puffed rice, and bran flakes
- Fruits and vegetables including pineapples, potatoes, and pumpkin
- Enriched pastas, such as rice-based pasta
- Short grain white rice
- Snack foods like pretzels, rice cakes, popcorn etc
Food to include in your diet: Foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and improve the symptoms of acne are:
- Fish such salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- Pastured eggs
- Soy products
- Navy beans
- Mustard seeds
- Walnuts and almonds
- Wild Rice
To protect your skin and keep whiteheads at bay, it’s important to wear sunscreen with SPF 15. Here are some home remedies to fight whiteheads:
- Vitamin A and mild retinoid creams: Many facial creams and face washes contain Vitamin A which promotes skin growth, reduces inflammation, and is also a strong antioxidant. It can be purchased as a pure oil and applied directly to the skin. Retinoid creams contain stronger forms of Vitamin A. They can be applied all over the face. Start using the cream every second night for a week before increasing treatments to once daily. As the cream makes the skin very sensitive to sun, experts recommend applying it before bed rather than during daylight hours.
- Facial Steam: Exposing the skin to steam will open up plugged pores. After steaming your face, gently the skin using a facial tissue to remove toxins and whiteheads
- Tea Tree Oil: This is an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial oil. Tea tree extract is contained in many facial cleansers, washes, and toners. It can be applied directly to the skin using a cotton pad or a clean finger.
- Honey: The powerful anti-bacterial properties of honey will cause the bacteria to dehydrate and die off. Clean your skin and apply a tablespoon of honey that has been heated until it is slightly warm to the touch. Leave the honey pack on for about 15 minutes.
- Witch-hazel: This anti-inflammatory herb has astringent and pore-opening qualities which may help to heal whiteheads. It is more convenient to use in astringent form. Apply it to the skin twice a day using a wet cotton ball.
Before you apply anything on your skin, do a patch test for a reaction. If you are dealing with a mild case of whiteheads and acne, these tips may help you manage it. If it doesn’t work, consult your dermatologist. Physicians may prescribe medications or alternative treatments for whiteheads.
Our feet carry the burden of our daily lives from the moment we wake up until we sleep. Lack of care and hygiene can cause cracked heels. According to Healthline, a survey found that 20 percent of adults in the United States experience cracked skin on their feet. The primary cause of cracked heels is believed to be dry skin, but it’s not only the culprit. Prolonged standing, wearing shoes or sandals with open backs, having calluses, and being obese puts pressure on the heels, also causes the skin to split. Deep cracks along the back edges of the heel can lead to bleeding feet and infection, and cause pain while walking. The good news is that there are simple but effective home remedies for cracked heels that use common kitchen ingredients.
- Vegetable oil: Vegetable oils contain vitamins such as provitamin A, D, and E, and fats and are readily absorbed by the skin, which will help nourish the skin, create new cells, and heal cracked feet. Before going bed, first, clean your feet thoroughly and then dry them using a soft towel. Apply a thick layer of vegetable oil to your heels, toes and on the cracked parts of your feet, and wear a pair of thick socks overnight.
- Banana Foot Pack: Banana is a natural skin moisturizer as it contains vitamins A, B6, and C, which all help to maintain the elasticity of the skin and keep it hydrated. Coconut oil are loaded with natural enzymes that help to encourage cell turnover and moisturize skin. Make a foot mask using bananas, or by mixing bananas with coconut oil. Mash 2 ripe bananas into a smooth paste and gently rub the paste all over your feet, including the nail beds and sides of the toe. Keep it on for 20 minutes and after that rinse your feet with clean water. Or, mash a banana and combine it with 2-3 tbsps of coconut oil and apply it on your cracked heels. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and then wash your feet with warm bath (no soap) and pat dry. Use this mask every night before going to bed for 2 weeks or until you are satisfied with the results.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera contains vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E and soothes dry and dead skin effectively. The amino acids present in it are responsible for the skin-softening action and it heals the ridges and cracks that have formed and increases collagen synthesis. Soak your feet in warm water, and scrub using a pumice stone to remove dead skin. Pat dry, and apply a thick layer of aloe vera gel to your feet. Wear cotton socks and leave the gel on your feet overnight. Repeat this every night for 4-5 days to see the results.
- Honey: Research shows that honey has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that promote wound healing. Honey is also a moisturizer and can work as a natural remedy for cracked heels. Its soothing properties help revitalize the skin. Honey can be used either as a scrub after soak your feet or applied as a foot mask overnight.
- Epsom salt: Epsom salt softens the skin, reduces inflammation and also soothes tired feet. Add half a cup of Epsom salt to warm water in a foot basin and soak your feet in it for 15 minutes. Scrub to remove dead skin. Repeat this exfoliation process 2-3 times a week.
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal used along with vegetable, coconut, or olive is another great remedy for exfoliating cracked heels. Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties that help remove dead skin cells and soften the skin.
Mix 1 tbsp of powdered oatmeal with 4 to 5 drops olive oil and make a thick paste. Apply this over your feet, especially over the cracked areas of the heels. Leave it on for about half an hour. Rinse off with cold water and pat dry. Apply this exfoliating mask every alternate day till the results appear.
Here are some measures to prevent cracked heels:
- Use a good moisturizer on your feet at least once a day.
- Apply heel balm in the morning to increase skin elasticity before you start your day
- Wear footwear with a robust, wide heel that supports and protects your heels
- Avoiding excessively hot showers and harsh soaps
- Avoiding peeling or shaving calluses, especially if you are diabetic, as it can cause infection
- Drink plenty of water
- Exfoliate your feet with a pumice stone to prevent your heel skin from thickening
- Wear good quality or clinically-tested padded socks
- Using silicon heel cups will keep the heels moisturized and prevent the heel pad from expanding.
If the condition does not respond to home remedies, they could be caused by a medical condition. Consult a podiatrist to get the right treatment.