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Whiteheads are common in teenage years as well as adulthood. They are a form of acne, also called closed comedones, mostly found on the cheeks and chin. Whiteheads are a buildup of oils, sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria that get clogged in pores and form small, white raised spots on the skin. Whiteheads cannot be treated overnight. (Never squeeze them!) A daily skin care regime is needed to help control outbreaks and get rid of existing whiteheads.


Whiteheads differ from blackheads and pimples. Whiteheads are fully clogged pores, while blackheads are pores that are only partially blocked. Excessive exfoliation can cause dead skin cells to jam up hair follicles and not let oxygen through. The natural production of dry sebum can also contribute to the formation of chronic whiteheads.

Sometimes if you only have a few whiteheads they will go away on their own without treatment. In other cases a combination of over-the-counter medicine and strict skin care is needed.

Facial Cleansing

Wash your face twice daily with facial cleansers containing salicylic acid or alpha hydroxyl acids to unclog the pores. After cleansing use a toner to help remove excess dirt and bacteria from skin and to shrink pores before moisturizing. Larger pores are more prone to toxic buildup that causes whiteheads to form.

Exfoliate at least two to three times weekly. Saturate your face, chin and neck. Be careful not to scrub too hard, instead use light circular motions always pushing the skin upwards. Exfoliating removes dead skin and dirt from the skin’s surface, making way for new healthier skin cells to grow. Always apply a moisturizer to the skin after washing and exfoliating.

Other Methods

Over-the-counter treatments used daily for the specified time will help reduce the appearance of whiteheads.

Deep cleaning by facial steaming is the best way to loosen up skin, enlarging the pores and making it easy for the bacteria and dead cells to be removed. Steaming the face once a week is recommended. Take a hot cloth and apply it to the face for a few moments. Remove the cloth and follow your daily regime while the skin is soft, to ensure excess make-up, dirt and dust are completely removed.

A comedone extractor tool can be helpful in removing whiteheads. It is designed to keep pores free from blemishes, blackheads and whiteheads. Use after steaming for optimum results. Consult a professional esthetician (skin-care specialist) or dermatologist for the best extraction technique and desired outcome in removing whiteheads.

Do not squeeze whiteheads. This can cause permanent scars.

About the Author

Candace N. Smith

Candace N. Smith is a fashion and business writer in New York. Beginning her writing career in 2007, her work has appeared in various fashion publications including "Kouture Magazine." Graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion marketing from American InterContinental University, Los Angeles, she's taken her experience in fashion, marketing and brand management, and shares that knowledge in her writing.