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What are Blackheads and Whiteheads? How to Get Rid of Them

Fact-checked by Kristel Lagorza

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Nov 09, 2021

What are Blackheads and Whiteheads? How to Get Rid of Them

Blackheads and whiteheads are the common forms of acne that most people suffer at least once in their lifetime. According to a survey, about 85% of individuals in the age group, between 12 and 24 years old, experience pimples due to blocked pores. 

Health experts believe acne can be treated easily but it requires care as it can occur again. Blackheads and whiteheads are the two forms of acne that have different factors to form but require similar treatments. 

Understanding Blackheads and Whiteheads

What are blackheads?

Blackheads are the small bumps that develop on the skin due to clogged hair follicles. These small bumps are called blackheads as the surface or the head looks black. 

Blackheads are also called open comedones, and they appear on the nose, back, arms, shoulders, neck, and chest.

What are whiteheads?

Whiteheads form when bacteria, dead skin cells, or oil gets trapped within one of the open pores. Health experts found that these white bumps can be annoying and may appear at the worst time.

Whiteheads are also called closed comedones, and they generally develop on the chin, forehead, and nose. 

Causes of Blackheads and Whiteheads

Health experts believe the causes and factors for the formation of blackheads and whiteheads are different.

Let’s take a look at the causes for each acne to understand correctly. 


Although there is no exact cause of whitehead formation, hormonal changes are attributed to causing them occasionally. These hormonal changes can occur due to numerous reasons ranging from puberty to menstruation, and from using oral contraceptives to pregnancy.

Skin specialists believe the appearance of whiteheads can be due to the overproduction of sebum, an oily substance secreted by sebaceous glands that protect the skin. 

Other factors that cause whiteheads are sweat, certain cosmetics, high humidity, and skincare products. However, some studies found no connection between whiteheads and stress, diet, or poor facial hygiene.


Age and hormonal changes are the major factors that contribute to developing blackheads. During puberty, the hormonal changes trigger excess production of sebum, causing blackheads. However, blackheads can appear at any age.

Studies have found that androgen, a male sex hormone contributes to shedding skin cells and produces excess sebum during and around puberty. Both girls and boys experience higher androgen levels during adolescence.

After puberty, there are changes in the hormones due to the usage of birth control pills, menstruation, and pregnancy, contributing to blackheads in women. 

According to health experts, factors that cause blackheads are:

  • Overproduction of skin cells
  • Consumption of steroid-based drugs like corticosteroids
  • Excess sweating
  • Drugs encouraging faster skin cell shedding
  • Health conditions like Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Shaving

How to Prevent Blackheads and Whiteheads?

Several skin specialists suggest preventive measures for whiteheads and blackheads. Some of the measures include:

  • Use lukewarm water for bathing and cleansing.
  • Clean sunglasses, mobile phone, and pillow covers daily to wash off bacteria, oil, and dirt.
  • Avoid scrubbing skin harshly to prevent abrasion and scratches.
  • Apply sunscreen before stepping out of the house to prevent dust from clogging pores.
  • Protect your face while you use hair products.
  • Wash your face twice a day. Use a good quality face wash to get rid of dust and bacteria around.
  • Wash hair daily to get rid of oil produced by sebum.

Home Remedies for Blackheads and Whiteheads

Skin experts suggest some simple and easy home remedies that are proved to be beneficial and effective. Some home remedies to treat whiteheads are as follows:

Lemon Juice

Lemons are loaded with vitamin C that is beneficial for skin health. The antibacterial properties of lemon juice can help reduce skin inflammation and bacterial infections. Also, lemon juice helps to dry out excess oil from the skin. 

How to use:

Extract juice from the lemon and apply directly to the affected area using a cotton ball and leave for 20 minutes.


Honey contains powerful antibacterial properties that are clinically proven to be beneficial for skin health. Also, it is considered the best natural skin moisturizer and prevents sebum overproduction.

How to use:

Heat a teaspoon of honey until it is slightly warm. Apply the warm honey directly on the clear skin and let it rest for 15 minutes. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV is considered a potent astringent that is capable of shrinking the pores. Also, ACV contains antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that help reduce skin issues. 

How to use:

Take 8 ounces of warm water and add two tablespoons of ACV. Apply the solution directly on the clear skin and leave for 20 minutes. 

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel contains vital compounds and astringents that help shrink skin pores and cells. Also, certain studies prove that Witch Hazel can help remove excess oil and reduce inflammation.

How to use:

Use soaps and body washes that contain Witch Hazel. Also, Witch Hazel is available on the internet as an astringent. You may order that and apply it directly on the skin with the help of a cotton ball. 

The following are some home remedies to treat blackheads:


Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C that helps to moisture and hydrate skin. Also, it prevents the formation of blackheads by eliminating dry and dead skin cells.

How to use:

Take 2-3 strawberries, a teaspoon of honey, and lemon juice. Mash the strawberries, add honey and lemon juice to make a paste. Apply the paste onto the affected area. Leave it for 20 minutes and rinse with clean water.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains moisturizing properties that can treat dry skin and prevent pores blockage. According to health experts, coconut oil contains lauric acid that prevents the formation of acne. 

How to use:

Take a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil and apply it on the blackhead prone area and leave until it is absorbed completely into the skin.


Turmeric contains a potent antioxidant called curcumin that is clinically proven to provide numerous skin benefits. Health experts believe turmeric contains antibacterial properties that cleanse the pores and prevent blackhead occurrence. 

How to use:

Use one teaspoon of water and turmeric powder and mix to achieve a paste. Apply the paste on the blackhead prone area and wash it after it gets dry completely. 

Aloe Vera

According to skin specialists, aloe vera is most beneficial to treat skin inflammations. The moisturizing properties of aloe vera can treat skin dryness and roughness. Also, this potent plant contains saponins and zinc. Saponins help to clean skin while zinc helps to tighten pores. 

How to use:

Extract half a teaspoon of aloe vera gel and apply on the blackhead prone areas. Leave it overnight and wash the face after waking up. 

Key Takeaways

Blackheads and whiteheads form due to several reasons and they are considered harmful. However, whiteheads can cause painful pimples. So, to treat this skin acne, try these home remedies and adopt preventive measures to block the formation of blackheads or whiteheads. 

Also, before trying any treatment, talk to a dermatologist and get proper guidance to prevent and treat blackheads and whiteheads. 

Learn more about Acne here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Fact-checked by

Kristel Lagorza

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Nov 09, 2021

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