Whiteheads are a mild form of acne that affects nearly a vast majority of people. Whiteheads are closed comedones that form due to excess oil clogging the pores, among other factors. In this article, we explore everything about whiteheads on the nose – their causes, treatment, whether they can be removed permanently, and a few prevention tips. Keep reading to know more!
In This Article
How Are Whiteheads Formed On The Nose?
Mild acne occurs when excess sebum, keratinous material, dead cells, and dirt clog the sebaceous glands in your skin’s pores. This clogging allows bacteria to colonize the pore, leading to closed comedones or whiteheads. Whiteheads may be white to flesh-toned in color. They can appear anywhere on the body, but they are mostly noticed on the T-Zone of the face – nose, chin, and forehead.
But, why do these comedones or whiteheads form? Find out in the next section.
Causes Of Whiteheads And Comedonal Acne
1. Acne-Causing Bacteria
Propionibacterium acnes is a bacteria known for causing acne. This bacteria can get clogged in your pores and lead to the formation of whiteheads and other types of breakouts on your face, including on your nose.
Lifestyle factors also play a significant role in the development of whiteheads on your nose. Stress, pollution, urban noise, variations in sleep patterns, smoking, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be potential risk factors that cause whiteheads.
3. Dietary Factors
If you’re not careful, your diet can increase the chances of whiteheads on your nose. A study found that the sebum of people with acne contains less essential free fatty acids, like linoleic acid. Thus, it is important to eat foods that are high in healthy fatty acids and avoid junk food that contains trans fats and other unhealthy fats.
Your genetics also play a role in the development of acne and whiteheads on your nose. Several studies have found that if you have immediate family members, the chances are higher that you will develop acne and whiteheads.
5. Hormonal Changes
Changes in your hormone levels can cause the sebaceous glands on your nose to produce more sebum than your skin needs, which can lead to whiteheads.
Now that you know what could be causing the whiteheads on your nose, let’s take a look at the treatments you can try out.
Whiteheads are generally treated with topical retinoids, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. There are other ingredients such as azelaic acid, antibiotic medication, dapsone, topical erythromycin, and topical clindamycin that can also be used to treat mild to moderate acne (3).
- Benzoyl Peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide is commonly used to treat patients with acne. It is used in concentrations from 2.5-10% and various formulations (cream, gel, wash, foam, aqueous gel, leave-on, and wash-off). It is a comedolytic, keratolytic, anti-inflammatory agent with antimicrobial properties. It is bactericidal mainly against P. acnes by the production of reactive oxygen radicals and has not developed resistance.
- Salicylic Acid: Salicylic acid is a comedolytic agent that is available over the counter in 0.5 to 2% concentrations and in both wash-off and leave-on preparations. It is generally well-tolerated by people.
Both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are used in OTC, topical, and acne treatments and are commonly paired together for improved effectiveness.
- Antibiotics: Topical antibiotic medications have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. The main topical antibiotic medications are clindamycin and erythromycin. Topical antibiotic medications are best used in combination with benzoyl peroxide.
- Retinoid: Topical retinoid medications are often used as the first line of treatment for people with mild-to-moderate acne, especially comedonal acne.
- Azelaic Acid: Azelaic acid acts as a comedolytic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory agent. People with sensitive skin should use it with caution as it can cause side effects like redness, burning, and irritation.
- Dapsone: Dapsone, like other topical antibiotic treatments, treats the redness and inflammation caused by whiteheads.
- Oral Antibiotic Medications: Oral antibiotic medications are commonly prescribed to people with mild-to-moderate acne on whom topical medications haven’t worked. They are also used as the primary acne treatment in people with moderate-to-severe inflammatory acne. Oral antibiotic agents may be used in combination with a topical retinoid and benzoyl peroxide, if it can be tolerated.
Apart from these treatments and medications, you can also use peels and pore strips to treat whiteheads on the nose.
Many people squeeze and pop their whiteheads. But, is that healthy or safe? Find out below.
Should You Squeeze Or Pop Whiteheads?
Whiteheads should not be squeezed as it can spread the acne-causing bacteria to the surrounding area, causing more acne breakouts. Popping whiteheads is considered safe, but do not pop them on your own. If you pop them incorrectly, it can cause scarring. The bacteria in the comedones can also spread easily and cause breakouts on other parts of your face. Instead, consult a dermatologist. They can pop the comedones easily. There are other methods of extraction they may use to remove whiteheads.
Now, let’s answer the most important question.
Is It Possible To Get Rid Of Whiteheads Permanently?
Whiteheads may remain on your nose for a long time, but they fade away on their own eventually. There are a few remedies to reduce the appearance of these open comedones. Here are some ways to treat whiteheads
- Over-The-Counter Medication
You can use over-the-counter moisturizers, cleansers, and other skin care products that are specifically formulated to treat acne and whiteheads. They usually contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If you don’t notice a reduction in the whiteheads, consult a dermatologist. They can provide you with a more focused treatment plan.
- Prescription Medication
There are oral antibiotics that can treat acne. A dermatologist can also help you get prescription-grade skin care that contains higher doses of the active ingredients found in over-the-counter products.
- Skin treatments
Check out the risks you should be aware of in the next section.
Risks To Be Aware Of
Nursing and pregnant women experience hormonal changes that can cause whiteheads and acne breakouts. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a dermatologist before trying any products or medication on their own. Erythromycin is the oral antibiotic medication that is usually prescribed to pregnant people with acne.
Whiteheads on the nose are not a serious cause for concern. With consistent treatment, you will notice a reduction in these comedones. Follow a healthy diet, avoid junk food, follow a strict skin care routine, and lead a healthy lifestyle to prevent the formation of whiteheads on your nose.
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