Several methods might remove whiteheads from the skin, and might include seeking a professional dermatologist or cosmetologist for advice. Removing whiteheads is typically more difficult than getting rid of blackheads because they form in deeper layers of the skin. Steam, commercial skin products, and exfoliants might be used to diminish whiteheads without causing permanent scarring. Lemon juice might also open clogged pores to make removal easier.
Whiteheads, also called closed comedones, develop from oil that clogs pores. They are caused by poor skin hygiene, hormonal imbalances, and lack of moisture in the skin. This form of acne commonly appears on the face, including on the forehead, nose, under the eyelids, and chin. Adolescent girls might deal with whiteheads as hormonal levels change each month.
The steam method to remove whiteheads represents an age-old way of treating this type of acne at home. An antibacterial soap can be used to thoroughly cleanse the face and hands before exposing skin to steam. Some people make a tent over a pan or bowl of boiling water to keep steam from escaping. Once pores open, cotton balls might be used to squeeze dead skin cells and oil from the bumps. An antibacterial cream can be applied to prevent infection after steaming to remove whiteheads.
Another technique to treat whiteheads involves a paste that acts as a defoliant. Hot compresses might be used instead of steam to open clogged pores before using a sterile needle to nudge bacteria out of comedomes. This should be followed by an exfoliating product, which can be purchased or made at home. Oatmeal or cornmeal mixed with yogurt to form a paste can be massaged into skin before rinsing off.
Commercially prepared acne cream might also remove whiteheads. Products containing retinoid, a form of vitamin A, might reduce the appearance of these blemishes and prevent them from forming. Creams made with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide also might help remove whiteheads, but tend to dry out the skin. Most dermatologists advise against squeezing to remove whiteheads because it could spread bacteria and cause scars.
Preventing acne might be easier than getting rid of it. Skin should be kept clean by washing twice a day and exfoliating dead skin cells twice a month. Keeping pores open might eliminate the need to remove whiteheads later. Creams or lotions with a petroleum base, and heavy makeup, might activate oil glands and clog skin pores. Removing makeup before going to bed also might help prevent acne.