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.