10 Ways To Get Rid Of Whiteheads + Causes & Tips To Prevent It

Use your favorite ingredients from your pantry to reduce those pesky bumps on your skin.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Sonam Jeswani Ramrakhiani, MBBS, DDV Dr. Sonam Jeswani Ramrakhiani Dr. Sonam Jeswani RamrakhianiMBBS, DDV facebook_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) Experience: 3 years
Edited by , BTech Anjali Sayee BTech Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Monomita Chakraborty MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Experience: 4 years

Whiteheads are the firm skin-colored bumps that develop on your skin, especially your face. Removing them can be difficult as you cannot pop them easily. So, how to get rid of whiteheads? There are several methods to get rid of them. This article discusses some home remedies and over-the-counter treatments that may help eliminate them. Read on.

Causes Of Whiteheads

Whiteheads are non-inflammatory acne and appear as small, and firm skin bumps on the skin. These are formed when dirt, bacteria, and sebum are trapped in the skin pores.

Hormonal imbalances during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause are the main reasons behind acne and whiteheads. Imbalance in androgen and estrogen levels causes excess sebum production, leading to whiteheads.

Also, sweating,oily skin, non-comedogenici  Refers to ingredients that do not clog pores or cosmetic products formulated with such ingredients. cosmetics, greasy foods, high humidity levels, and contraceptives can cause whiteheads. Genetics also play a key role in developing several types of acne (1), (2).

protip_icon Trivia
Whiteheads can also result from shedding cells in hair follicles. Therefore, abnormal levels of keratin can also be a cause.

Whiteheads mostly appear on your face. However, you may get them on other body parts.

Where Do Whiteheads Appear?

Whiteheads develop on body parts that have sebaceous glands and produce excessive sebum. Other than your T-zone, you may develop whiteheads on:

  • Upper chest
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Neck

Confused about how whiteheads are different from blackheads? Learn more in the following section.

Difference Between Whiteheads And Blackheads

Both blackheads and whiteheads are types of non-inflammatory acne lesions, but they differ in how they appear on the skin. Whiteheads are small bumps that occur when the pores get clogged with sebum. They are closed comedones, which means they are not exposed to the air.

Blackheads, on the other hand, are open comedones, which means the pore or follicle is partially blocked by the sebum and dead skin cells, allowing air to enter. When this trapped material is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns dark in color. Blackheads usually occur on the face, shoulders, neck, and chest.

Even if you never had whiteheads as a teen, you can develop them at some point during adulthood. In the next section, check out the home remedies you may try to eliminate whiteheads.

Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Whiteheads

1. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera as a home remedy to get rid of whiteheads.
Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh aloe vera gel
  • 2-3 drops of diluted lemon peel oil

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix both the ingredients.
  2. Massage the affected area with the mixture for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Leave it on for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Wash off your face.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 times a week.

Why This Works

Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and anti-acne properties. It moisturizes the skin, reduces pimples and blemishes, promotes collagen production and wound healing (3). Lemon peel oil has antimicrobial properties and is effective against acne-causing bacteria (4).

2. Honey

You Will Need

What You Have To Do

  1. Warm the honey and apply it to the affected areas.
  2. Leave it on for 20 minutes.
  3. Wash off with water.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this every alternate day until the whiteheads go away completely.

Why This Works

Honey has wound healing and antibacterial properties. It effectively reduces the proliferation of acne-causing bacterias P. acnes and S. aureus strains (5), (6).

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • Cotton ball

What You Have To Do

  1. Dilute the ACV and apply it directly to the whiteheads.
  2. Let it dry naturally for a few minutes. Do not wash off.

Alternate Method

  1. Mix 3 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of ACV, and 1 tablespoon of water. Form a thin paste.
  2. Apply it to the affected area.
  3. Leave it on for 15 minutes.
  4. Wash off with lukewarm water.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2-3 times in a fortnight.

Why This Works

Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties and is effective against acne-causing bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Moreover, the acetic acid in the vinegar also helps minimize acne and whiteheads (7), (8).

4. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil as a home remedy to get rid of whiteheads.
Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • 2-3 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 tablespoon of any carrier oil (olive, jojoba, almond, or avocado oils)
  • Cotton swab

What You Have To Do

  1. Dilute the tea tree oil and apply it to the affected area.
  2. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Wash it off with lukewarm water.

How Often You Should Do This

Apply tea tree oil 2 times a day.

Why This Works

Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It can eliminate acne-causing bacteria and effectively minimize mild to moderate acne (9), (10).

5. Baking Soda

You Will Need

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the ingredients and make a paste.
  2. Apply it to the affected areas.
  3. Let it dry for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Wash it off with lukewarm water.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this 1-2 times a week until the whiteheads go away completely.

Why This Works

Baking soda is abrasive and has exfoliating properties. It may help cleanse the impurities and skin pores and reduce whiteheads.

6. Witch Hazel

You Will Need

What You Have To Do

  1. Apply witch hazel to the affected area.
  2. Let it dry. Do not wash off.

How Often You Should Do This

Apply witch hazel 2 times a day.

Why This Works

Witch hazel contains tanninsi  Plant molecules with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce acne breakouts and redness. and has astringenti  The property of an ingredient or a substance to minimize the appearance of pores, reduce oiliness and tighten the skin. and antioxidant properties. It helps minimize acne inflammation. The astringent properties may also help in eliminating whiteheads (11), (12).

7. Turmeric

Turmeric as a home remedy to get rid of whiteheads.
Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon of water or honey

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the ingredients and apply it to the whiteheads.
  2. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes and rinse off.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1-2 times a day.

Why This Works

Turmeric contains curcumin, a polyphenol with antibacterial, antioxidant, and medicinal properties. It can effectively minimize any form of acne (13), (14).

8. Rose Water

You Will Need

What You Have To Do

  1. Apply rose water (preferably hydrosoli  Pure floral water produced by the steam distillation of petals, peels, and other plant parts. ) on the affected area or the entire face.
  2. Leave it on, and do not wash off.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this every alternate day.

Why This Works

Rosewater is used as an alternative and complementary therapy for acne (15). The anti-inflammatory properties of rose water may help reduce whiteheads.

9. Jojoba Oil

You Will Need

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the oils and massage your face with it.
  2. Leave this overnight.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this every night, before going to bed.

Why This Works

Jojoba oil may help repair the skin and minimize acne (16). This is a lightweight oil, and together with tea tree oil, it can help control whiteheads.

10. Garlic

Garlic as a home remedy to get rid of whiteheads.
Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • Rosewater
  • Cotton pad

What You Have To Do

  1. Crush the garlic and mix it with water. Keep this aside for a few minutes.
  2. Apply the garlic-water mix to the whiteheads.
  3. Leave it on for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Wipe with a cotton pad dipped in rose water.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this once every 2-3 days.

Why This Works

Garlic is a natural antiseptic and has antibacterial properties that can reduce acne breakouts and prevent recurrence (17).

Natural remedies may often take time to show results. For more effective acne and whitehead management, you can use OTC treatments.

Over-The-Counter Treatment For Whiteheads

1. Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an FDA-approved topical over-the-counter medication for acne (18). It has antibacterial activity and helps in reducing inflammation and excess oil (19). It is found in different OTC products like anti-acne creams, face washes, shower gels, and ointments. Use a product with at least 2% benzoyl peroxide to minimize whiteheads.

2. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and is effective in reducing acne and whiteheads (20), (21 ). It promotes the natural exfoliation process of the skin and helps clear the skin pores and minimize acne.

3. Retinoids

Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives. This prescription medicine has anti-inflammatory properties and is comedolytic (prevents comedone formation) (22). You can try OTC products that contain retinol and isotretinoin to minimize whiteheads and acne. However, retinoids can increase sun sensitivity. Hence, apply sunscreen while going out.

4. Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic and lactic acids can help minimize whiteheads (23). AHAs dissolve the bonds between the cells and promote exfoliation. However, avoid using AHAs on open wounds or cuts. Also, AHAs can make your skin sun-sensitive. Apply sunscreen before going out.  

Francescka, a YouTuber, used glycolic acid for her closed comedones and shared her results, “I just kept using glycolic acid every single day until my skin is not better and better, and it went back to its poreless perfect blemish-free state (i).”

protip_icon Quick Tip
Azelaic acid is also an effective treatment for whiteheads. It kills bacteria on the skin, reduces swelling, and improves the overall health of your skin.

Proper skin care is crucial for minimizing whiteheads and preventing further inflammation. It is best to consult a dermatologist before adding active ingredients to your beauty routine. Here are a few tips to help you reduce the risk of breakouts.

Additional Tips To Prevent Whiteheads

  1. Wash Your Face Twice Daily: Washing your face twice a day is crucial to get rid of the dirt and impurities from the skin, which might clog the pores. It is crucial for minimizing excess sebum. Ensure to use non-comedogenic, oil-free, and gentle cleansers. Make it a point to follow the cleansing, toning and moisturizing (CTM) routine religiously to maintain skin health.
  2. Exfoliate Periodically: Gentle exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells from the skin and promote cell regeneration. It also improves skin texture and minimizes whiteheads. Use gentle exfoliants that contain AHAs like glycolic and lactic acids and BHA (salicylic acid). Exfoliate no more than once a week, as over-exfoliation may irritate the skin and increase sebum production.
  3. Wash Your Hair Regularly: Wash your hair regularly to prevent oil and product buildup on the scalp, which may cause acne and whiteheads on the forehead. Also, while using hair care products, try to keep them off your face.
  4. Use The Right Sunscreen: Avoid using sunscreens that have heavy and oily formulas that can clog the pores and cause breakouts.
  5. Try Extraction: This skin care treatment can effectively extract whiteheads and reduce acne and breakouts. The process involves facial steaming to open the skin pores and then squeezing the whiteheads with the extraction tools. While you can try extraction at home, it is better to visit a skin care professional to get the whiteheads extracted.
  6. Drink Enough Water: Your skin should stay hydrated inside out to prevent excess sebum production. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  7. Avoid Eating Junk Food: There is a link between a high glycemic index (GI) diet, increased sebum secretion, and acne (24). Foods with a high GI, like sugary drinks, white bread, cookies, baked goodies made of white flour, and white rice, can influence the sebum secretion levels. Avoid these to prevent whiteheads.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Extend hygiene management to keeping your makeup, gym equipment, and phone cases clean. Also, clean your pillowcases, linens, and eyewear.

Squeezing whiteheads may lead to skin issues. Let’s take a look at the complications associated with whiteheads in the next section.  Scroll down to know in detail.

Complications Associated With Whiteheads

Constantly picking or squeezing whiteheads may cause accidental scratches and wounds. This may cause open sores, irritation, redness, and blemish. Moreover, improper use of extraction tools may also cut the skin and aggravate the inflammation. In such situations, consult a doctor immediately.

Infographic: Top 5 Home Remedies To Treat Whiteheads

Whiteheads are a common skin issue many people face today. The good news is there are several home remedies that help you treat and reduce the occurrence of whiteheads. We have rounded up the top 5 remedies you can try at home in the infographic below.

top 5 home remedies to treat whiteheads (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Whiteheads are skin-colored bumps that develop due to clogged pores, poor diet, or hormonal imbalance. Whiteheads commonly develop on the T-zone, neck, and shoulders. Since whiteheads can develop at any point during your life, you can use natural ingredients such as aloe vera, honey, or turmeric to reduce whiteheads. For more effective whitehead management, you can opt for over-the-counter treatments such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinoids. Following a proper skincare routine, drinking plenty of water, and a balanced diet can prevent whitehead breakouts. Follow these beauty tips on how to get rid of whiteheads to get clear and healthy skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you don’t pop a whitehead?

If you don’t pop a whitehead, it heals in its natural time and goes away in 3-7 days.

Can toothpaste remove whiteheads?

While the ingredients in particular toothpaste may help dry and shrink a whitehead, it is not advisable.

Can peel-off masks remove whiteheads?

Yes, peel-off masks are effective in removing whiteheads and blackheads.

Which mask removes whiteheads?

Face masks with AHA, clay, charcoal, green tea, witch hazel, aloe vera, or tea tree oil may help prevent the formation of whiteheads and aid their removal as well.

Key Takeaways

  • Hormonal imbalance is one of the major causes of whiteheads (non-inflammatory acne).
  • Other causes include excess sebum production and the use of non-comedogenic products and birth control pills.
  • They mostly appear on the face and can be seen on the shoulders, neck, etc.
  • Natural ingredients like aloe vera and honey are the best bet, owing to their anti-bacterial and anti-acne properties.
how to get rid of whiteheads

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Embark on a transformative journey to eliminate blackheads and whiteheads. Dive into the causes, effective treatments, and dermatologist-approved home remedies in this enlightening video for clear, radiant skin. Check it out now

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Family history
    body mass index
  2. Heredity: a prognostic factor for acne
  4. Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health
  5. Topical Application of Honey for Burn Wound Treatment – an Overview
  6. Honey: A Therapeutic Agent for Disorders of the Skin
  7. Anti-microbial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli
    Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression
  8. Contemporary pursuits of vinegar from scullery to dermatology
  9. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties
  10. The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized
    double-blind placebo-controlled study
  11. Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea
  12. Moisturizers for Acne
  13. Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) on Skin Health: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence
  14. Evidence of curcumin and curcumin analogue effects in skin diseases: A narrative review
  15. A review of diagnosis and treatment of acne in adult female patients
  16. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
  18. Benzoyl Peroxide
  19. Treatment Modalities for Acne
  20. Treatment of acne vulgaris with salicylic acid pads
  21. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review
  22. Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Therapy for Acne
  23. The effect of physically applied alpha hydroxyl acids on the skin pore and comedone
  24. Dietary Patterns Associated with Sebum Content
    Skin Hydration and pH
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Dr. Sonam Jeswani Ramrakhiani is a renowned dermatologist with over 11 years of experience. She has a sharp eye for facial aesthetics and advocates learning newer technologies and treatment protocols for the benefit of her clients. After completing her academics, she worked with Dr. Jamuna Pai, India's leading celebrity skin expert, where she learnt about lasers and injectable treatment options,...read full bio

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