Whiteheads, a common form of acne, are also known as closed comedones. These raised, white bumps are filled with pus, and can form on the surface of the skin on the face, shoulders, and other areas. The basic cause of whiteheads is clogged follicle openings. Blackheads, or open comedones, occur when sebum and dead skin cells plug up overly large follicle openings, and oxidation causes the plug to turn black. The cause of whiteheads is more or less the same; sebum and dead skin cells plug up the follicle openings but, because those openings are microscopically small, the plugs aren’t oxidized, so they remain white.
Knowing the cause of whiteheads makes them easier to prevent. Both open comedones and closed comedones can be prevented with a good, regular skincare routine. Since dead skin cells cause whiteheads, exfoliate at least twice a week to slough dead skin cells away. Cleansing the skin twice a day with a mild, oil-free cleanser will also help remove dead skin cells, as well as remove excess sebum, another cause of whiteheads. Using a facial cleanser that contains alpha hydroxy acid will help to unclog the pores, but most recommend such products only be used three or four times a week.
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A steam treatment once or twice a week can also help unclog pores. First, fill a sink with hot water. Next, place a towel over the head, and lean over the sink so that the towel forms a tent around the face, trapping in the steam. A steam treatment should last for about ten minutes.
Another way to prevent whiteheads is to stop using beauty products that contain oil. Instead, use moisturizers that are oil free, and choose non-comedogenic cosmetics that are water based. Try to avoid using oily hair products, because oily hair brushing to the skin can be the cause of whiteheads appearing on the forehead and around the hairline. Someone who touches her face a lot should also avoid using hand creams and lotions that contain oil.
Getting rid of whiteheads takes time, and often requires a lot of patience. Trying to get rid of whiteheads in the wrong way can result in permanent scarring. A good skincare regimen will often result in the whiteheads going away on their own. Products that contain benzoyl peroxide, prescription oral antibiotics, and antibiotic creams might also help to get rid of whiteheads. In some cases, seeing a professional cosmetologist or dermatologist is the best way to get rid of whiteheads quickly and safely.