Expert shares tips to tackle persistent whiteheads. Photo Courtesy: istock
Picking and popping your whiteheads? We all have been there and learnt that it probably does more harm than good. Whiteheads, also known as closed comedones, are a type of acne lesion that forms when a hair follicle gets clogged with sebum (oil secreted by skin), dead skin cells and bacteria. During the monsoon season, the humidity levels in the air tend to rise. This leads to excess moisture on the skin, which in turn, disrupts the skin’s natural barrier and gives rise to clogged pores.
Clogged pores are a common skin problem that spares none. The intensity of sebum, dead skin cells, and impurities may vary as per the individual’s collagen – the primary building block of skin. If the collagen is weak, unwanted elements tend to accumulate, leading to blackheads, whiteheads, and acne breakouts. If squeezed improperly, they can also lead to redness, swelling and infections.
Fret not, we have you covered. Midday Online spoke to Mumbai-based skin expert Dr Rashi Soni who shares handy hacks to prevent clogged pores and promote healthier skin. A cosmetologist and consulting dermatologist at Chicnutrix, she takes us through effective solutions to unclog dirt-ridden pores.
Tackling whiteheads with expert-recommended treatments
Retinoids, derived from vitamin A, are known for their ability to promote cell turnover and prevent clogged pores. Regular use of over-the-counter retinol creams or prescription-strength retinoids can help unclog pores, reduce the appearance of acne, and improve overall skin texture. However, it’s important to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase to avoid irritation.
Benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient found in many over-the-counter acne treatments. It has antibacterial properties which work by reducing the number of acne-causing bacteria on the skin’s surface. It also helps in removing excess oil and dead skin cells. Additionally, it reduces inflammation associated with whiteheads and other types of acne lesions. Start by using benzoyl peroxide once a day, and if your skin tolerates it well, you can increase the frequency to twice a day.
If there is something that works like magic in unclogging pores, it is Salicylic acid. A beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), it works as a great exfoliant as it is oil-soluble. It penetrates deep and stubborn pores and helps to remove dead skin cells, oil, and debris. With deep cleaning techniques, this compound breaks down sebaceous follicles that can clog the pores and contribute to the formation of whiteheads.
Regular exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells, preventing them from accumulating and clogging pores. Opt for chemical exfoliants containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) as they penetrate the pores and dissolve impurities. However, one must be cautious not to over-exfoliate, as it can lead to irritation and dryness.
Clay masks, such as those containing kaolin or bentonite clay, can be highly effective in drawing out impurities from the skin. Apply a thin layer of clay mask to your face, allowing it to dry completely before rinsing it off. This process helps absorb excess oil and unclog pores, leaving your skin feeling refreshed.
When selecting skincare and cosmetic products, opt for non-comedogenic formulas. These products are specifically designed not to clog pores, reducing the chances of breakouts. Look for labels that mention “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free” to ensure you’re using the right products for your skin.
Comedone extractors are small tools designed to safely remove whiteheads and blackheads. Sterilize the extractor and gently apply it around the whitehead to exert gentle pressure, helping to release the clogged material. However, it’s crucial to use comedone extractors properly to avoid skin damage or infection.
Establishing a consistent cleansing routine is essential for maintaining clear pores. One should use a gentle cleanser twice a day to remove dirt, oil, and makeup. Cleanse your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil, sweat, and impurities. Avoid harsh or drying cleansers that can strip the skin’s natural oils and potentially trigger more oil production.
Steam can be an excellent natural remedy for opening up pores. Fill a bowl with hot water and lean over it while covering your head with a towel to trap the steam. This process helps loosen debris and makes it easier to extract blackheads or whiteheads. Remember to follow up with a toner and moisturizer to close the pores.
In cases of persistent or severe clogged pores, consulting a dermatologist is advisable. They can offer professional treatments such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or extractions to effectively clear the pores. These procedures should be performed by trained professionals to minimize the risk of complications.
The occurrence of whiteheads during the monsoon season can be attributed to a combination of factors:
During the monsoon, the humidity levels shoot up. High humidity can contribute to excess moisture on the skin, which can disrupt the skin’s natural balance and lead to clogged pores. When the pores become blocked with sebum (natural oil) and dead skin cells, whiteheads can form.
The hot and humid weather during the monsoon season can cause increased sweating. Sweating can mix with oil and bacteria on the skin’s surface, creating a favorable environment for whiteheads and other forms of acne to develop.
The humid climate of the monsoon can also lead to increased bacterial growth on the skin. When bacteria proliferate, it can further exacerbate the clogging of pores and contribute to the formation of whiteheads.
During the rainy season, there is often an increase in environmental impurities, such as dust, dirt, and pollution. These impurities can settle on the skin and mix with oil and sweat, leading to pore blockage and the formation of whiteheads.
Changes in weather and humidity levels may require adjustments to your skincare routine. Failure to cleanse the skin effectively or using heavy, pore-clogging products can contribute to whitehead formation during the monsoon.
Clogged pores can be frustrating, but with consistent care and the right remedies, you can achieve healthier, clearer skin. By following a thorough cleansing routine, incorporating exfoliation, and utilizing targeted treatments, you can effectively unclog your pores and prevent future breakouts. Remember, if your clogged pores persist or worsen, it’s always best to seek professional advice from a dermatologist.