Home Remedies to Get Rid of Whiteheads

Whiteheads, also known as milia or closed comedones, are hard white bumps caused by the collection of oil and dead skin cells inside pores. True whiteheads are not hard or swollen, and they do not contain pus. If a clogged pore is covered with skin, it is a whitehead, but if the pore opens to the skin’s surface, it oxidizes and becomes a blackhead.

Getting rid of whiteheads is similar to treating blackheads, but requires a slightly gentler touch. A few home remedies can make the task easier, but keep in mind that proper skin care is the best defense against all types of blemishes. If the area becomes inflamed or painful, or if the blemish does not disappear within a few days, consult a doctor or dermatologist. Otherwise, you can treat the problem at home using any of the following remedies.

Facial Steam for Whiteheads

One of the most effective methods you can use to get rid of whiteheads at home consists of steaming your face over a basin of boiling water for five to 10 minutes. Steaming opens the pores and allows the blemish to drain more easily. After steaming, you can gently push the whitehead out of the pore. This requires delicacy, as you may cause scars or broken veins if you try to force out a stubborn whitehead.

To make a facial steam, bring about four cups water to a rolling boil, and transfer the pan to a sturdy surface such as your kitchen table. Position yourself comfortably so that your face is about 12 inches away from the water. Place a towel over your head and drape it over the pan to catch the steam. Be extremely careful not to burn yourself. If necessary, you can pour the boiling water into a large, heat-proof bowl instead of using the hot pan.

After steaming your face for five to 10 minutes, prick the apex of the whitehead with a clean, sterilized needle. (To sterilize, place the needle in rapidly boiling water for a few minutes just before using.) Very gently press the skin around the blemish to expel it from the pore. If the whitehead does not come out easily, try again in 24 hours. If you use too much force, you may end up making the problem worse. Do not squeeze the skin and don’t allow your fingernails to press into the skin.

Warm Compress for Whiteheads

An alternative to steaming your face, a warm compress can also open the pores and soften the whitehead enough to expedite its removal. Soak a clean washcloth or towel in hot water, wring out any excess liquid and apply the cloth directly to the affected area. Allow the cloth to remain in place until cool, about five minutes. Proceed as directed above to remove the whitehead from the pore. Remember, press the skin around the blemish and do not squeeze the whitehead itself, as this can cause further inflammation.

Soap and Salt Whitehead Treatment

Another very effective way to get rid of whiteheads consists of rubbing the blemish with a mixture of liquid soap and table salt. Combine about one teaspoon liquid soap with half a teaspoon of salt, and gently massage the mixture into the whitehead for a few minutes. Use a mild hand or body soap with minimal additives for the best results. Wash the area with cold water to remove all traces of soap.

Repeat the treatment several times, rubbing the soap and salt mixture into the blemish and rinsing with cold water, until the whitehead becomes soft enough to gently press out of the pore. Use your fingertips to press the skin around the pimple, but do not force it out, as this can cause damage to your skin and scarring. If you aren’t able to remove the whitehead after two or three attempts, stop and try again in 24 hours.

Other Home Remedies

While these remedies are typically used for general acne and blackheads, they may help reduce the appearance of whiteheads if you have time to wait for them to work. Although not scientifically proven, these remedies have strong anecdotal evidence to support their efficacy. If you have a bothersome whitehead that you can’t wait to be rid of, they’re certainly worth a try and they won’t cause any harm to your skin.

  • Apple cider vinegar โ€“ Believed to help normalize your skin’s natural pH balance, apple cider vinegar may help with all types of blemishes, including whiteheads. For the best results, dab the liquid onto the affected area just after steaming, or just after washing your face with a mild cleanser. Do not rinse.
  • Honey โ€“ Honey contains antibacterial properties believed to help improve acne, including blackheads and whiteheads. Apply honey directly to problem areas after thoroughly cleansing the skin. Leave on for about 10 minutes, and rinse off with warm water.
  • Lemon juice โ€“ Lemon juice dries excess oil and may help expedite the healing of whiteheads and other pimples. Wipe fresh lemon juice onto your whiteheads with a cotton ball just before bedtime. The blemish may disappear by morning. If not, repeat until each night until it’s gone.


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“Whitehead – Overview.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2010. .