Have you ever wondered why the pesky whiteheads frequently show up on your face? Your clogged pores might be one of the main reasons.
Your skin accumulates sebum, dirt, dead skin cells that clog skin pores over time, leading to whiteheads. While whiteheads can keep coming back, you can manage them by following a Dosha balancing diet and resorting to a herbal skincare routine.
Scroll down to know what causes whiteheads on your skin and how to remove them with natural Ayurvedic methods.
- What Are Whiteheads?
- What Do Whiteheads Look Like?
- What Causes Whiteheads?
- Where Do Whiteheads Appear?
- Do Whiteheads Go Away Naturally?
- How To Remove Whiteheads?
- How To Prevent Whiteheads?
- How Long Does It Take For Whiteheads To Go Away?
- Dos And Don'ts While Having Whiteheads
- When To Consult A Dermatologist?
What Are Whiteheads?
'Twacha' or skin being the largest sense organ for the sense of touch or 'Sparsha Jnyaan' is more prone to diseases. As per Ayurveda, whiteheads or ‘Youvana Pidaka’, are a mild form of acne,  that are classified under minor skin diseases or 'Kshudra Rogas'. These are uninflamed, clogged hair follicles on the surface of your skin that has sebum, keratin flakes and impurities trapped within them.
Medically termed as a closed comedone , these are basically acne lesions which have the potential to form pimples if left untreated. Your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells as part of its exfoliation process. However, when it cannot exfoliate completely, these keratin flakes along with sebaceous gland secretions block the pore. Gradually, sebum and dead cells continue to build-up in the pore, becoming a visibly large comedo.
Different from a blackhead, whiteheads are closed pores. This makes it even harder to extract the impurities that are trapped within it. “Daily skin detox and rejuvenation is described in Ayurvedic Dinacharya. Daily regimen of Abhyanga, Udvartana, Nasya and Gandusha helps maintain good skin health,” says Dr Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
What Do Whiteheads Look Like?
Whiteheads appear as yellow or white small soft bumps under the skin surface. They are common in the oily regions of the face like cheeks, nose, chin, etc.
What Causes Whiteheads?
Whiteheads occur when there is an excess production of dead skin cells and an increase in sebum secretion. This can be caused by a number of factors that affect your skin and overall body mechanism.
1. Excess sebum secretion due to the onset of puberty
2. Commonly found in women suffering from PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
3. An increase in DHT hormone within the skin
4. Excessive dry skin caused by a skin disease or skin barrier impairment
5. Can result from an innate immune response
6. Over-exposure to heat or the sun or humid conditions
7. Use of heavy skincare products that are comedogenic
8. Genetic skin disorders
10. Consumption of oily foods or foods that have a high glycemic index
According to Ayurveda, the body functions of every human being are governed by 3 life energies known as the Tri Doshas. When in harmony, the Vata, Pitta and Kapha Doshas ensure smooth functioning of the anabolic and catabolic mechanisms of the body. However, aggravation of a Dosha puts the body into a state of disease. Whiteheads usually occur as a result of Pitta Khapha vitiation.
Kapha Dosha that regulates the movement of fluids in the body, when aggravated, causes excess sebum secretion. A rise in Pitta levels increases heat in your body, which leads to the formation of whiteheads. A Vata Pitta imbalance can also cause excessive dry skin to block your pores and lead to whiteheads.
Contrary to popular belief, acne breakouts are not limited to oily skin. Someone with dry skin can also experience whiteheads, blackheads and other forms of acne.
Where Do Whiteheads Appear?
Whiteheads are quite common in the oily regions of your face such as the nose, forehead, cheeks and chin, often referred to as the T-zone. But, you can also experience a whitehead breakout in other areas of your body such as the chest, back, and scalp.
1. Whiteheads On The Face
2. Whiteheads On The Nose
3. Whiteheads On The Forehead
4. Whiteheads On The Cheeks
Do Whiteheads Go Away Naturally?
Generally, whiteheads do not go away naturally. They need to be exfoliated or medically removed. Leaving them untreated for a long time may cause sebum and bacteria to build-up in your pores, leading to other skin problems.
How To Remove Whiteheads?
A. Home Remedies To Treat Whiteheads
Whiteheads are often not too stubborn and can be removed with simple home remedies that are stated below.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar’s acidic quality helps to regulate the oil secretion in areas affected by whiteheads. Being anti-bacterial, apple cider vinegar prevents the growth of bacteria within the pores. However, apple cider vinegar can be too harsh for the skin if applied directly. Dilute it with some lukewarm water and apply it over the whiteheads. Leave it on for 15 minutes before rinsing off. You may need to apply it 2-3 times a week to remove your whiteheads.
2. Facial Steam
Facial steams are a great whiteheads removal technique and can be easily done at home. The warmth from the steam opens your pores and softens the whiteheads making it easy to remove them. If the affected area cannot be held over a bowl of hot water, try dipping a cloth towel in warm water and applying its warmth on the whiteheads. This should give a similar relief to the problem.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties act quickly on whiteheads. With various skin-friendly benefits, aloe vera calms irritated, acne prone skin. Applying aloe vera on the whiteheads can help reduce sebum secretion and prevent oil build-up in your pores. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice to the aloe vera gel and apply it on the whiteheads for added benefits.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory, oil controlling nature is a boon to skin that has whiteheads. It gets easily absorbed into your skin and prevents the growth of bacteria in the pores. Being astringent in nature, tea tree oil can dry up the excess sebum within the whiteheads and prevent their recurrence. Mix a few drops of tree tea oil with a carrier oil (olive, almond, coconut) of your choice and apply it on the affected area.
Applying honey to remove whiteheads is an easy home remedy. Rich in antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, honey also reduces the spread of whiteheads. Simply warm the honey and apply it over the area with whiteheads. When dry, gently massage and wash off.
Using toothpaste has been an old technique to remove whiteheads. But it may not be the best one. Toothpaste is drying, hence applying it on whiteheads can shrink your inflamed pores and reduce the oil trapped within them. However, toothpaste can irritate your skin and make it too dry. Thus, it might be causing more harm to your skin in the process of removing whiteheads.
7. Baking Soda
Baking soda is an excellent exfoliant and works well in removing whiteheads. Mix a small amount of baking soda with warm water to form a paste and apply it on the whiteheads. Leave it on for 5 mins. When dry, massage and rinse off. Use it only on the affected area and not too frequently to avoid dryness.
B. Ayurvedic Treatments To Remove Whiteheads
According to the principles of Ayurveda, treatment for a disease is administered based on a person ‘Prakriti’ or body constitution. Ayurvedic treatments for skin problems harmonize your Doshas with the help of herbs and ancient medicine techniques. This holistic approach helps in restoring the body’s equilibrium and curing the Dosha related disease.
1. Ayurvedic Face Cleansing
Ayurvedic texts cite the need for a good skincare routine to rejuvenate your skin and keep your skin problems at bay. Regular face cleansing with herbal face washes or cleansers prevent dead skin and oil build-up in your pores. Look for herbs that have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties such as Neem, Turmeric, Hibiscus, Triphala, Kumari, Brahmi and Cinnamon in your face wash. These herbs pacify both Kapha and Pitta Dosha and help in removing whiteheads naturally.
2. Bashpa Swedhana Or Herbal Steaming
An ancient detoxification technique in Ayurveda, Bashpa Swedhana, is often used to treat mild skin problems. 'Kshudra Roga' or minor skin diseases are often the result of toxin accumulation and Dosha imbalances in your body. In this method, the entire body is enclosed in a herbal steam chamber except the head. The medicated steam opens up the pores and purges your body through sweating. This is best for treating whiteheads that appear anywhere in the body other than the face.
At home, you can add antibacterial herbs such as Neem, Tulsi, Yashtimadhu and Triphala to boiling water and let the skin on your face soak up the steam. This will open up the pores and help in the removal of whiteheads on the face easily.
3. Udvarthanam Or Herbal Exfoliation
Herbal powders and oils are mixed together and massaged onto skin in an upward direction in Udvarthanam. This special technique not only exfoliates skin but also removes harmful toxins that cause skin inflammations, acne, whiteheads and blackheads. The goodness of the herbs seeps into your skin, relieving stress, signs of aging, damage and dryness. Mix the below mentioned herbs to prepare the perfect herbal exfoliator to remove stubborn whiteheads.
- To reduce excess Kapha Dosha: Triphala powder, Reetha, Dried Ginger, Vacha and Black Pepper.
- To reduce excess Pitta Dosha: Amlaki, Haritaki, Yava (barley), Brahmi and Gotu Kola.
- To reduce excess Vata Dosha: Ashwagandha, Ginger, Triphala, Brahmi and Kesar.
4. Ayurvedic Lepa Or Herbal Paste
Ayurvedic scriptures explain in detail the use of Lepas or medical paste for topical application to cure various skin diseases. Lepas meant to cure different forms of skin conditions on the face are referred to as 'Mukha Lepa' . The below mentioned wonder herbs of Ayurveda are used in Lepas to treat whiteheads. Known for their unique anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties, these herbs regulate the causes of whiteheads and also nourish and rejuvenate irritated skin.
An amazing Tridosha pacifier, Chandanam has been in use in traditional medicine for ages to cure various skin diseases. Use rose water and chandanam powder to make a paste and apply on the whiteheads. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes till the paste dries and then rinse off with warm water. Repeat 2 to 3 times in a week to completely remove your whiteheads.
Take 2 spoons of yastimadhu powder and make a paste with honey and rose water. Apply this on the affected area and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing off. Yastimadhu pacifies the Vata-Pitta Dosha on your skin. Frequent application of this Lepa will reduce the production of excess dry skin and heat that are major reasons for whiteheads.
A Pitta-Kapha balancer, Neem has a cooling effect on your skin. Its medical properties are effective against various skin problems including whiteheads. Take 12 to 15 neem leaves and grind it to form a paste. Apply this Lepa on the affected area and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with water and repeat till the whiteheads are removed.
Turmeric is a potent skin disease curer and easily available in most Indian kitchens. Grind turmeric and add a small amount of honey and lemon juice to it. Apply this paste on the whiteheads and allow it to dry. Gently massage and rinse off after 20 minutes. Repeat a few times and watch your whiteheads disappear for good.
5. Abhyanga Or Ayurvedic Massage
The medical benefits of Ayurvedic oil massages are well known and explicitly mentioned in ancient medical texts. In this Ayurvedic treatment the affected area with whiteheads is massaged with herbal oils. These oils being rich in medicinal and antibacterial properties go deep within your pores and prevent the cause of whiteheads. Their anti-inflammatory and astringent qualities regulate the sebum production and prevent oil and dry skin build-up. A proper Abhyanga not only removes your whiteheads but also prevents it from coming back. The below mentioned herbal oils are most effective for treating whiteheads.
- Clove Oil
- Neem Oil
- Kakodumbara Oil
C. Other Medications
If your whiteheads are persistent and keep occurring despite the application of home remedies, consult a doctor. Since whiteheads are mild forms of acne, topical creams and exfoliators should solve your problem. Your doctor may also suggest professional extraction methods if the whiteheads are too hard.
These are often considered an all round solution to mild skin problems such as whiteheads. Regular application of retinoids prevents follicular inflammations and blockages and helps in the skin renewal process.
Antimicrobial creams or topical lotions are also prescribed to treat different forms of acne including whiteheads. These may include benzoyl peroxide which is used to treat inflammatory skin diseases. Benzoyl peroxide is effective against bacteria that collect in the pores and also helps to unblock the follicles. It is often preferred for its quick action and is available in strengths ranging from 2.5% to 10%.
- AHA Or Alpha Hydroxy Acids
AHAs  work like magic on whiteheads. These are present in several over-the-counter acne and whitehead treatment products. AHAs are generally considered safe on skin, but may produce mild irritation and dryness. Being excellent exfoliators, AHAs can remove whiteheads and also give your skin a smooth, rejuvenated appearance.
- Salicylic Acid
Salicylic Acid is easily available over the counter as a whitehead treatment. It can be used either as a topical medicine or an exfoliator. It is considered more effective than benzoyl peroxide at reducing whiteheads and preventing them from coming back in the future.
In rare cases, if the above mentioned topical medication cannot act against the whiteheads, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, hormonal medicines or Isotretinoin that control the production of excess sebum. You can also consider physical extraction methods where the whiteheads are removed using cosmetic procedures such as comedone extraction and chemical peeling.
D. Ayurvedic Food Diet
Apart from topical medication to remove whiteheads, Ayurveda recommends the consumption of certain foods that help balance your Doshas and prevent the cause of whiteheads.
1. Foods To Pacify Excess Kapha Dosha
- Bitter, pungent, light foods stimulate metabolism and help level the Kapha aggravation in your body.
- Avoid high protein foods. Stick to chicken, eggs and prawns to meet your protein needs.
- Consuming fruits and vegetables such as apples, berries, dry fruits, peaches, pomegranate, broccoli, carrot, cabbage, garlic, onions, mushrooms, beetroot and radish prove to be beneficial.
- Include spices such as turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, clove in your meals.
- Avoid sugary foods and consume more grains such as millets, quinoa, barley and oats to keep your Kapha levels in check.
2. Foods To Pacify Excess Pitta Dosha
- Excess Pitta  in your body causes too much heat and impairs the digestive system. Consuming foods that have a cooling effect on the body helps calm the Pitta. Sweet, astringent and bitter flavours are also good Pitta pacifiers.
- Proteins cause too much heat in the body. Depend on vegetable protein sources and eggs to prevent aggravating your Pitta levels.
- Fruits and vegetables such as bananas, pomegranate, pears, melons, grapes, cucumber, beans, peas, zucchini, cabbage, squash, potatoes help balance the Pitta in your body.
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. This not only releases excess heat from the body but also flushes out harmful toxins that cause skin problems such as whiteheads.
- Keep your food low on spice. You may include Pitta calming whole spices such as cumin, fennel, turmeric, cinnamon.
Vedix Tip: Regular consumption of Ghrita or ghee is highly recommended by Ayurveda to pacify all three Doshas. Ghrita is an excellent metabolism stimulator and is used in various Ayurvedic medicines to treat skin related problems such as whiteheads.
How To Prevent Whiteheads?
Consult your Ayurvedic doctor to determine the cause of your whiteheads. Skin disorders such as whiteheads are often the result of internal factors that are further aggravated by your external environment. Thus, to prevent them, a holistic approach is always a better option. Get your body constitution or ‘Prakriti’ determined to chalk out the perfect Ayurvedic diet and skincare routine that will balance your Doshas, purify your blood and rejuvenate your skin.
Consider the below mentioned Ayurvedic principles to prevent whiteheads on skin.
1. Keep the skin area affected with whiteheads clean. Use herbal cleansers and exfoliators that are gentle on the skin. Apply Ayurvedic Lepas or medicinal paste on the whiteheads to treat the problem.
2. Keep your stress levels low. Stress is a major cause for Dosha elevation. It also impairs your digestive system, thus preventing your body from obtaining optimum nutrition.
3. Inculcate good sleeping habits. Tampering with your body clock affects metabolism and the removal of body waste. This causes the accumulation of Ama toxins in your body that causes various skin problems including whiteheads.
4. Stick to a proper Ayurvedic diet as recommended by your doctor to maintain the balance of your Doshas.
How Long Does It Take For Whiteheads To Go Away?
Whiteheads take time to form and can remain for a long time before going away naturally. Simple home remedies can be used to remove them. Keep your pores clean to prevent their occurrence as it can be difficult to remove them once they begin to appear.
Dos And Don'ts While Having Whiteheads
1. Follow a proper skincare routine that includes cleansing, steaming, exfoliation, application of face pack and moisturizing. Use herbal products that are non-comedogenic in nature. This will keep your skin clean and prevent oil, dirt and dry skin build-up that cause whiteheads.
2. Wear sunscreen every time you step out. Too much sun exposure will only worsen the condition of skin that is affected by whiteheads.
3. Apply herbal and skin soothing creams that help prevent whiteheads.
4. Apply ice on the area affected by whiteheads. This will reduce the subcutaneous blood flow to the skin and regulate the sebum production.
5. Consult your Ayurvedic doctor if the whiteheads keep occurring.
1. Don't self extract whiteheads on the skin. It may push the pluck deeper into your pores. There is also a fair chance that you may scar your skin or cause an infection.
2. Don't touch the infected area with your hands frequently. Your hands have dirt and bacteria that may further aggravate the problem.
3. Don't use heavy, oily skincare products that may block your pores and cause more whiteheads. Limit the use of make-up on the affected area and make sure to remove it before going to bed.
4. Don't over-exfoliate your skin to remove whiteheads. Exfoliating too often will leave your skin feeling dry and irritated. This may also trigger your sebaceous glands in producing more sebum to keep your skin hydrated.Moreover, over-exfoliation may result in tiny cuts on your skin, making it more vulnerable to bacteria and infection.
5. Don't use medication to treat whiteheads without consulting your doctor.
When To Consult A Dermatologist?
Whiteheads are uninflamed and painless. Simple home remedies and a good skincare routine should remove them. However, if they keep coming back, it may mean there are internal factors triggering them. A visit to the dermatologist would be wise to prevent their recurrence.
The Last Word
Whiteheads can be persistent and keep recurring if not treated properly. To prevent whiteheads it is important to keep your skin, especially oily zones, clean and dry. Internal factors causing whiteheads can be regulated with a balanced Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle. Including herbal, non-comedogenic products and Ayurvedic herbs in your skincare routine can not only prevent whiteheads but also keep your skin looking fresh and youthful.
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