Whiteheads – those gross little pus-filled bubbles which always appear at the wrong time (e.g. picture day at the office) are difficult enough to deal with on the flat surfaces of your face – let alone all the curves of your nose! This guide should allow you to better understand what they are, what causes them, and how we can eliminate them!
The first step to tackling any problem is to identify the root cause. The primary difference between whiteheads and blackheads is that in whiteheads, the clogged pore is closed, whereas in blackheads, it is open. Because of this whiteheads can be slightly more tricky to treat. Some people are much more likely to get whiteheads, meaning our genetics plays a role – I’m part of this group as both my dad and brother experience whiteheads! Other factors influencing whitehead formation are our hormones, stress, medications, and comedogenic makeup (aka pore-clogging makeup.)
Now that we know the cause, we can look at ways to reduce whiteheads. These include skincare, medication and lifestyle changes like diet and supplements.
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Skincare tips to prevent whiteheads
I personally divide skincare for whiteheads into two categories – preventative and when you already have them! To prevent whiteheads we want to reduce the pore becoming clogged as much as possible – so using cleansers or serums which can dive deep into the pores via AHA’s and BHA’s are ideal.
Some of my favorite cleansers contain acid exfoliants, such as the SkinMedica AHA BHA cleanser.
Something to consider when preventing whiteheads is to ensure at the end of the day we are double-cleansing, as it removes makeup, SPF and pollution. A double cleanse involves washing your face with a cleansing balm or oil, which breaks everything down first. A great example of a balm is the Farmacy Green Clean cleansing balm. Follow this up with one of the cleansers listed above to unclog pores.
Other ways we can prevent whiteheads forming on the nose are using products containing retinoids (which are a form of Vitamin A – but I’d recommend this as a last resort in more severe cases as the nose area is more sensitive to retinoids!) or benzoyl peroxide. Both of these will be found within serums – either OTC or prescribed by a dermatologist.
Sometimes we do everything right, but still end up with whiteheads – when you realize how many pores there are on our noses, it seems inevitable! So my not-so-secret weapon for treating them is using hydrocolloid patches which act as a barrier to dirt and bacteria, while helping to suck out the moisture (and gunk) from inside the spot. I’ll link my favorites below, and also include a photo of my personal results with hydrocolloid – I can’t be without it! Here you can find a list of all our favorite pimple patches for whiteheads.
Preventing whiteheads with medication
If you find whiteheads on your nose particularly bothersome, it may be a good idea to seek help from a dermatologist as they have access to many more treatments that can help control them. Examples of treatment may be
- prescription strength retinoids (such as tretinoin)
- antibiotics to control the bacteria which can cause acne
- oral contraceptives, such as pills which control the female menstrual cycle – as out of control hormones can be a major factor affecting whitehead formation
- anti-androgens, which act on the base of the hair follicle and sebaceous glands. This is beneficial as it reduces sebum production, which in turn means there is less available to potentially clog pores.
Lifestyle changes to prevent whiteheads
As whiteheads can be fuelled by bacteria, limiting the contact between our face and materials which may harbor bacteria is important. Some ideas to limit this are washing bedding weekly and changing pillowcases more often. I’m sure you can imagine that constantly putting your freshly washed facial skin on a dirty pillow defeats the point in washing it to start with! In addition to this not all pillowcases were created equal! Silk-based pillowcases are more gentle on skin than cotton, so I recommend this if you have sensitive but acne-prone skin! d You can find a list of some of the best silk, or silk-alternative pillow cases here.. Another type of pillowcase to consider is one woven with silver, as silver is naturally antimicrobial meaning it helps to break down any bacteria. A great example of this is the Silvon pillowcase.
Diet and supplements can play an important role in controlling whiteheads, with some key ideas below for this. Within a diet, reducing the amount of foods high in refined sugar can be beneficial, as can reducing dairy, although this doesn’t work for all people! Using the Unmasking Acne Clear Skin Guide is a great place to start when tweaking your diet to help control acne. A supplement type I have used is probiotics – which help to balance the populations of good and bad bacteria on your skin. Other supplements worth looking into are zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin A – here you can find a list of brilliant supplements for whiteheads. Something else to consume in smaller quantities (or avoid) is alcohol, which dehydrates the body, affects testosterone levels, and is usually high in sugar.
Hopefully, this guide has given you a great starting point to tackle the whiteheads on your nose! While they may be pesky, there are many treatments – both lifestyle and products to choose from. Remember, your acne doesn’t define you! You are beautiful and worthy.
Frequently Asked Questions
You should visit a dermatologist if you cannot reduce breakouts through a combination of dietary changes and non-comedogenic skincare products. They will be able to give you a personalized recommendation.
Slowly! If you bought more than one new product, only add one to your routine at a time – this is to ensure you know what does and doesn’t work for your skin, and also lessens the chance of a reaction! If you’ve never used acid or retinoid before, introduce it slowly – for example, only twice a week, as it allows your skin to get used to it. Using strong, new ingredients too often can lead to irritation!