- The nose has a high density of larger pores, making it a prime spot for whiteheads.
- Over-the-counter treatments for whiteheads on the nose include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and alpha hydroxy acids.
- Get rid of whiteheads on the nose naturally with tea tree oil, witch hazel and facial steaming.
- Removal strips cannot effectively treat whiteheads.
- Regular exfoliation, use of astringents and good hygiene practices may prevent whiteheads from forming on the nose.
Whiteheads form when a pore becomes clogged with dead skin cells and oil that is naturally produced by the skin, called sebum. They appear as white bumps on the surface of the skin.
Many people are prone to developing whiteheads on the nose. Find out why this occurs and what steps you can take to get rid of stubborn whiteheads.
Sebum is produced by sebaceous glands inside the pores of your skin. The nose has a high density of pores and oil glands that are larger than average. More oil means more opportunities for whiteheads to develop, making the nose a common place for them to crop up. Even people with very dry skin can experience whiteheads on the nose.
What if whiteheads on the nose keep coming back?
If whiteheads keep coming back, it means that the nose is still overproducing sebum. This tends to happen during puberty, when high levels of a hormone called androgen cause increased sebum production.
When your whiteheads on the nose are accompanied by other more severe forms of acne, especially on the jawline, it may be a symptom of a hormonal disorder. If you suffer from chronic whiteheads, seek the advice of a dermatologist.
Can You Get Rid of Whiteheads Overnight?
It is possible to get rid of individual whiteheads overnight, keeping in mind that “overnight” doesn’t mean instantly: the following remedies require several hours to take effect.
They’re also best suited for people who only get occasional whiteheads. Recurring whiteheads will generally require longer courses of treatment that may take weeks or even months.
As a quick remedy for the occasional whitehead, look for hydrocolloid bandages, also known as acne stickers. Popular in Korean beauty, these bandages can pull fluid from inside the clogged pores and reduce inflammation.
Another overnight whitehead treatment is a highly concentrated solution of blemish-fighting active ingredients such as salicylic acid or witch hazel. Keep in mind that these solutions can be irritating to the skin and are generally not meant to be used every day.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Treatments for Whiteheads on Nose
Retinoids have long been a mainstay in treating comedonal, noninflammatory acne, aka whiteheads. They work by increasing skin cell turnover, breaking up the dead cells that can block pores. You’ll start seeing results after about a month of retinoid use.
Keep in mind that retinoids increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Be sure to wear a high SPF sunscreen or reduce sun exposure when using them.
Salicylic acid dissolves in fats, making it ideal for breaking up the sebum and oily dead skin cells that cause whiteheads. A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology suggests that a skin care regimen containing salicylic acid may be more effective against noninflammatory acne than one containing antibiotics.
Salicylic acid is usually found in the form of a cleanser or toner. It is best suited for people with oily or combination skin as it can be drying. Expect to see an improvement within a few weeks, with full results after three months.
If this ingredient is too harsh or drying to use in a face wash, it’s also available as a concentrated form that can be applied to specific areas for quicker results.
If skin is well-exfoliated, sebum is less likely to end up trapped inside the pores and turn into whiteheads. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are chemical exfoliators; they dissolve the outermost layer of dead skin by weakening the bonds between cells. AHAs such as glycolic acid and lactic acid have been proven to reduce clogged pores.
» Learn more about the best treatment options for blackheads on the nose
How to Get Rid of Whiteheads on the Nose Naturally
For those seeking chemical-free treatments for whiteheads on the nose, several plant-derived and all-natural options are available.
Tea tree oil
The tea tree is a shrub native to Australia that has long been used for medicinal purposes. Its astringent and antibacterial properties may make it useful for drying out excess oil and preventing inflammation. However, its efficacy is still somewhat controversial in the dermatological community.
Tea tree oil must be used regularly reduce inflammation and oiliness; it can’t stop your skin from producing more sebum. It can be used as an ingredient in a cleanser or applied with a cotton ball.
Witch hazel extract contains tannins, which are naturally astringent. Like tea tree oil, it can be used by people with oily skin to counteract overproduction of sebum and must be used applied regularly to achieve good results. Witch hazel is often found in facial toners and cleansers.
Facial steaming is somewhat misunderstood. It is often claimed that facial steaming can “open your pores,” but pores cannot actually open and close—they don’t have muscles to tense or relax.
However, facial steaming may still be beneficial for treating whiteheads. The heat from steam can loosen dead skin cells and dirt on your face and any clogs inside skin pores.
Use facial steaming to treat whiteheads on the nose by doing so before you apply topical medication or attempt an extraction. Boil a pot of water and stand over it for a few minutes with a towel draped on either side of your face. You can also purchase an at-home facial steamer or obtain a similar effect with the hot water from a shower.
Anyone can benefit from facial steaming if precautions are taken not to overheat the skin or scald it with steam. Only five to ten minutes should be long enough.
How to Pop Whiteheads on Nose
To pop whiteheads on the nose, first apply a compress soaked in warm water to loosen the blockage. Then, with clean hands or an extractor tool (available online, and at beauty supply stores and pharmacies), press down on either side of the whitehead. Don’t squeeze or pinch, as that can force bacteria deeper into the pore.
If the whitehead doesn’t extract easily, do not use force. Instead, apply a spot treatment like a hydrocolloid bandage, salicylic acid solution or AHA and wait for the whitehead to either break down or become ready for popping.
A Word About Removal Strips
Removal strips are advertised as a method to quickly get rid of blackheads and whiteheads. It’s true that applying an adhesive strip to the nose can help peel away dead skin cells for a cleaner, smoother appearance.
However, these results are surface-level only. Pore strips can’t actually pull out whiteheads as they are closed over by skin. Focus instead on using products containing salicylic acid and AHAs, which are absorbed by the skin and can actually dissolve the plugs.
Tips to Prevent Whiteheads on Nose
To prevent whiteheads on the nose, consider incorporating the following steps into your skin care routine.
- Wash your face twice a day: Keeping your face clean of excessive oil and debris will reduce your likelihood of developing whiteheads.
- Exfoliate regularly: Exfoliation prevents the buildup of dead skin cells that causes whiteheads. Use only very gentle scrubs or a chemical exfoliant, two to three times a week.
- Wear oil-free moisturizer: Look for a skin cream that is advertised as oil-free or noncomedogenic, meaning it doesn’t clog pores.
- Use noncomedogenic makeup: Don’t block pores with oily makeup products. Ingredients to look out for include algaes, stearates and coconut.
- Avoid touching your nose: Your hands can spread dirt and bacteria; keep them away from your face to avoid breakouts.
- Use an astringent: If you have recurring whiteheads, the regular use of a drying agent can help treat them and prevent them from developing in the first place. Salicylic acid and witch hazel are two popular astringents.
Whiteheads are likely to occur on the nose because they have a high density of naturally large pores.
OTC treatments with active ingredients such benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and AHAs can help whiteheads if used regularly. If you prefer a natural remedy and have very oily skin, tea tree oil and witch hazel may be useful.
While removal strips cannot treat whiteheads, regular exfoliation, noncomedogenic skin products and use of astringents can prevent their formation.
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- Ju, Q., Tao, T., Hu, T., Karadağ, A. S., Al-Khuzaei, S., & Chen, W. (2017). Sex hormones and acne. Clinics in Dermatology, 35(2), 130–137. doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2016.10.004
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