Whiteheads are small bumps that are white at the tip and are filled with pus. Whiteheads most commonly form on the face, upper arms, upper back, chest, and neck but can be found on other areas of the body as well. Whiteheads form when excess oil, medically described as sebum, is secreted from the sebaceous glands and clog the pores or hair follicles of the skin. Bacteria and dirt in the air mix with the oils, causing pressure to build along the pore walls and eventually rupture – Creating whiteheads and pimples to form. Whiteheads are very different than blackheads though. Whiteheads turn into blackheads if they are not treated properly and are picked at or popped open, causing air to get into the pores, turning them dark in color.
If you must pop a whitehead because the pus is causing a lot of attention on your face…
Make sure to wash your hands with an antibacterial soap beforehand and cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser as well. Use a sterile needle that can be sterilized with a bit of rubbing alcohol then gently puncture the center of the whitehead with the needle. Then, ever so gently, lightly squeeze the pus out without breaking skin or blood to ooze out. For a few minutes, gently dab the area with a soft Kleenex to catch any excess clear liquid that may come out of the pimple so it does not seep into other areas of the skin. To avoid having the pimple become further infected, apply a topical cream that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to the area to dry out and destroy the pimple. It’s important to remember to cleanse, moisturize, and lastly apply an acne topical treatment to affected areas. Not moisturizing with an oil-free moisturizer will cause your skin to break out more and be an uncomfortable combination of dry and oily.
Tips on How to Prevent and Minimize Whitehead Breakouts
1. Gently cleanse your face, neck, back, and anywhere else you may have whiteheads 2-3 times a day. Use a gentle face cleanser for any affected areas –not regular bar soap! If your breakouts on your body are really bad, soak your body in a warm bath that includes Epsom salt. It will pull all impurities out of your pores.
2. Make an appointment with your local dermatologist. He or she may recommend a special medicated cleanser or topical treatment if they feel the need and depending on the severity of the breakout.
3. Do not pick at or pop whiteheads. Doing so will cause the whiteheads to spread to other areas of the body and will also cause the whiteheads to darken in color and become blackheads.
4. Use oil-free and non-comedogenic cosmetics and skin care products. Paraben-free and fragrance-free products are better to use as well to minimize inflamed and irritated skin.
5. Don’t wash your face or body more than 3 times a day because you can actually breakout more from over washing. Your body is in need of certain oils that could be stripped away if you over-cleanse. Cleansing your face only 2 times a day is recommended.
6. Avoid processed foods and foods high in fat, oils, or sugars. Eat lots of fruits and veggies and lean proteins.
7. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep your body hydrated. This will in turn, help keep your skin clear. Add fresh organic lemon slices to add more nutrients and flavor.
8. Don’t sleep on oily or dirty hair because these oils will get into your skin, clogging your pores and causing you to breakout more. It’s a good idea to also pull your hair up if you have long hair to avoid oil seeping into your skin.
9. Live a healthy lifestyle by working out regularly and avoid smoking and heavy drinking of alcohol. Good health is proven to do wonders for your skin!
10. Don’t go to tanning beds. They will initially dry your skin out, but overtime, will produce excess oil in your skin and cause more breakouts. It will also dramatically increase your chances of getting skin cancer at a young age – Even in your 20’s.