Whiteheads are a common form of acne. They present as a white bump under the skin's surface. These blemishes are firm and do not pop when squeezed because the pore is closed.
Acne is a skin condition that affects up to 80 percent of people between 11 to 30 years old. As with all forms of acne, whiteheads form when the pores get clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.
Whiteheads can appear anywhere on the body but commonly occur on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest.
Unlike whiteheads, blackheads are acne lesions with open pores. The bacteria in the pore turn black when exposed to the air, giving this lesion its name.
Hormones, medications, certain types of makeup, and genetics are all factors that can contribute to a person getting whiteheads.
Factors that may make whiteheads worse include:
- friction from bike helmets or backpacks
- polluted air and humidity
- wearing glasses
- pimple squeezing
- excessive scrubbing of the skin
While there are several methods to get rid of whiteheads and other acne lesions on the nose, not all of them work for everyone.
A person may need to try a few different products or techniques before they find what works best for them.
Pore strips for the nose will not help treat whiteheads, as they only work to pull out oils from open pores. Whiteheads are closed, so will not be affected.
Many over-the-counter (OTC) products contain active ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These two ingredients work in different ways but are both used to treat acne.
Benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria and helps remove oil and dead skin cells in the pores. It can also lessen the swelling associated with pimples.
Salicylic acid is helpful for unclogging the skin's pores and may prevent whiteheads from forming in the first place.
Other active ingredients in OTC acne medications include alpha hydroxy acids and sulfur. These help to remove dead skin cells from the pores and lessen swelling. Sulfur is also known to help control oil.
OTC products include:
- face washes
- spot treatments
It is important to keep using OTC treatments even after acne blemishes have gone away. Stopping their use can allow new bacteria into the pores and cause another flare-up.
Honey is not only a natural sweetener, but can also have antibacterial properties. Medical-grade manuka honey may be effective in treating bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics, including Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause acne.
To treat whiteheads on the nose with manuka honey, a person should follow these steps:
- wash the face with a gentle soap and warm water
- apply a teaspoon of manuka honey to the nose, spreading it evenly
- let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes
- rinse thoroughly and moisturize with an oil-free cream
Medical-grade manuka honey is available in some pharmacies and natural food stores. It can also be purchased online.
If OTC treatments and natural remedies do not work, a person can try using prescription medications for acne.
For stubborn whiteheads, a doctor may prescribe:
- prescription gels or creams containing retinoid
- oral contraceptives or birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin
- prescription anti-androgens, which affect the androgen hormones in the skin's sebaceous glands
Some acne treatments, such as contraceptives or drugs containing retinoid, cannot be used during pregnancy, as they may cause adverse side effects.
Other treatments may be available, so a person concerned about acne should speak to a doctor or pharmacist.
Steps a person can take to help prevent whiteheads on the nose include:
- washing the skin, particularly the face, with mild soap and warm water twice a day
- removing all makeup and washing after periods of excessive sweating
- resisting the urge to scrub the skin
- using oil-free makeup, moisturizer, and sunscreen
- using only noncomedogenic products on the face
- avoiding getting hair products, such as sprays and gels, on the face
- keeping hair, hands, and hats away from the face and hairline
- avoiding picking at the skin or squeezing whiteheads and pimples
- reducing stress
While whiteheads may be frustrating to treat, there are OTC and prescription options that can help.
Many washes, creams, and gels can be purchased over the counter to relieve the symptoms of acne. Some natural treatments, such as manuka honey, may also help. In some cases, however, prescription treatments may be needed.
Speaking with a qualified dermatologist or other skin care professional can help determine the best course of action to treat whiteheads on the nose.