- Whiteheads are a common and treatable form of acne.
- There are a multitude of home remedies that can help combat the root cause behind whiteheads.
- Home remedies can range from basic, readily available items in your household to diet and lifestyle changes.
- Home remedies for whiteheads are a cost-effective and readily available means of treatment.
Natural home remedies can effectively combat whiteheads by tackling the underlying issues that contribute to acne, like bacteria growth, oily skin, blocked pores, inflamed hair follicles, and the build-up of dead skin cells.
Natural Home Remedies for Whiteheads
Whiteheads, or open comedones, occur when oils and dead skin cells become trapped. The continued production of natural oil, or sebum, builds up in the pore, appearing as tiny, round white bumps.
Oil production inhibitors
Lemon juice can dry out the skin and soak up oils. It features antibacterial properties and contributes to inflammation reduction. Lemon juice can be applied to the face as is or diluted with equal parts water. Use a cotton ball and apply directly to the affected area for a total of 20 minutes.
Witch hazel’s astringent properties can help remove excess sebum that contributes to blocked pores and whiteheads. The tannins in witch hazel have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that decrease bacteria in the skin and soothe redness thereby decreasing the possibility and intensity breakouts. Apply to skin with a cotton pad and allow to dry.
Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents
Apple cider vinegar is a hybrid remedy. It can work as an astringent to dry and shrink pores, as well as antibacterial anti-inflammatory compounds. Mix 2 tbsp of ACV mixed with 8oz of warm water and apply directly to the skin. This is best applied to a clean face and left on for 20 mins, then rinse with lukewarm water.
Honey has strong antibacterial characteristics. Given its sticky, dense nature, it remains in place, enabling it to penetrate the skin. Simply heat 1 tablespoon of honey in a microwave-safe bowl for 15 seconds. Apply directly to clean skin and wash off after 15 minutes. It’s important to note that more research is needed on the effectiveness of honey as an agent to combat acne.
Tea tree oil has long been known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can treat bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases affecting the skin. It has also been reviewed as an effective agent in combating acne. Tea tree oil not only treats inflammation and prevents acne lesions, but it can moisturize the skin and restore the natural oil balance. Apply to skin with a cotton ball and allow to dry.
Copaiba oil can significantly improve acne-affected areas. A study published in 2012 in The Alternative Medicine Review demonstrated that copaiba oil with a potency of at least 1% has healing, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Apply to skin with a cotton ball and allow to dry.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is an alkaline agent with antiseptic and anti-inflammatory characteristics that can soothe swelling and mild pain caused by whiteheads. It can also be used as an exfoliant but is not recommended for daily use. Mix 2 tsp of baking soda with warm water until a paste is formed. Use fingertips to massage into the affected area. Rinse off with lukewarm water and continue with usual skincare regime.
DIY Recipes for Whiteheads
Natural ingredients can be combined to treat existing acne as well as stop whiteheads before they occur.
Baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixture
Dilute 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 tablespoon of water. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and mix well. Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave on for 15 minutes. Wash face and apply moisturizer.
Honey and lemon mixture
Mix ½ teaspoon of honey, ½ teaspoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons of oats in a bowl. Scrub mixture over the face in a circular motion for 5 minutes. Leave on for another minute or two and wash off with warm water.
Ingredients to avoid
Toothpaste – contains triclosan, an ingredient found in certain acne treatments, toothpaste contains ingredients that can significantly irritate and further damage the skin, especially when left on for longer periods.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent and Treat Whiteheads
Reducing stress, getting quality sleep, exercising, and limiting the intake of high-glycemic foods and dairy can help limit excess sebum production that leads to acne. While more research needs to be done on the correlation between diet and acne, the following studies found a link between dairy consumption, high-glycemic food, and acne-prone skin.
In addition to the aforementioned home remedies, there are several very effective OTC products in the form of cleansers, toners, exfoliates, and spot treatments to tackle whiteheads and acne. If home remedies and over-the-counter products aren’t providing results, medicated treatments can be prescribed by your dermatologist.
While whiteheads are inevitable for most, home remedies are a cost-effective and readily available means of treatment.
The key to choosing any home remedy treatment is to always take into consideration your skin type and not to cause further damage to the skin. This means opting for home remedies with properties that tackle the underlying contributors of whiteheads and avoiding the use of anything harsh or abrasive.
If your acne persists, consider OTC treatments or visit your dermatologist’s office for more complex treatments.
- Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Bagherani N, Kazerouni A. A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology. Int J Dermatol. 2013 Jul;52(7):784-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05654.x
- da Silva AG, Puziol Pde F, Leitao RN, Gomes TR, Scherer R, Martins ML, Cavalcanti AS, Cavalcanti LC. Application of the essential oil from copaiba (Copaifera langsdori Desf.) for acne vulgaris: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med Rev. 2012 Mar;17(1):69-75. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22502624
- Veith WB, Silverberg NB. The association of acne vulgaris with diet. Cutis. 2011 Aug;88(2):84-91. Review. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21916275
- Bowe WP, Joshi SS, Shalita AR. Diet and acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Jul;63(1):124-41. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2009.07.043