How to Clean Whiteheads

by Jonae Fredericks ; Updated July 18, 2017

Wash away whiteheads with a mild cleanser.

towels and soap image by Inger Anne Hulbækdal from

Whiteheads, also referred to as closed comedones, result when facial oil or sebum lies trapped below the surface of the skin. Care of whiteheads often requires the use of a topical medication in conjunction with proper cleaning techniques, which help bring the oils to the surface of your skin. Once at the surface, acne cleansers wash away the oil and any bacteria present, which otherwise will worsen acne symptoms.

Wash your skin in the morning and before you go to bed at night using a mild cleanser. A mild cleanser won't contain heavy perfumes or strong chemical abrasives. Choose a formula that contains up to 2 percent salicylic acid. If your skin is easily irritated, look for a gentle cleanser designed for sensitive skin.

Cleanse your whiteheads with sanitized fingertips to avoid making your acne problem worse. Wash your hands using warm water and an antibacterial soap before touching the area that contains the whiteheads.

Rinse your whiteheads with warm water. Apply the mild cleanser to your wet skin using your clean fingertips. Rotate your fingertips in a circular motion, massaging the cleanser into your whiteheads, while creating a lather.

Rinse away the mild cleanser using a cool water rinse to close your pores. Pat your skin dry with a clean, absorbent bath towel. Avoid rubbing your skin with the towel as you dry. Rubbing irritates the skin causing redness and discomfort.

Apply a topical treatment that contains either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to your whiteheads after cleansing. Such topical treatments are available in your supermarket or grocery store and will help to control further whitehead eruptions.


  • Keep in mind that any form of treatment for whiteheads is not instant. In fact, reports that it may take 4 to 8 weeks before you begin to see results.

Photo Credits

  • towels and soap image by Inger Anne Hulbækdal from

About the Author

Jonae Fredericks started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jonae Fredericks is a certified paraeducator, presently working in the public education system.