How to Get Rid of Small Whiteheads on the Arms

by Elizabeth Streeter ; Updated September 28, 2017

Topical acne creams can get rid of small whiteheads on the arm.

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Almost everyone has experienced blemishes on their face and body. Though it’s a common experience, acne lesions still may be embarrassing, especially when they occur on other parts of the body like the chest and arms. Several types of acne lesion plague the body. Two of the most common acne marks, whiteheads and blackheads, tend to linger on the body. Whiteheads and blackheads occur when the hair follicle becomes clogged with bacteria, dead skin cells and sebum (a fatty substance secreted by sebaceous glands). The difference between whiteheads and blackheads is whether the clogged hair follicles are open or closed. Whiteheads are clogged follicles that produce a closed bump. Fortunately, you can get rid of lingering blackheads and whiteheads the same way.

Items you will need

  • Body acne cleanser
  • Topical acne cream
  • Exfoliator
Step 1

Take a shower with a body acne cleanser. In addition to daily showering, take a shower after an intense workout or if you become sweaty. This removes whitehead-causing bacteria from the skin.

Step 2

Apply topical creams to your arms. Lotions with alpha hydroxy acids remove whiteheads by removing dead skin cells, according to Benzoyl peroxide also removes dead skin cells. The peroxide also kills bacteria. Salicylic acid and sulfur are also over-the-counter ingredients that can help with mild acne, according to

Step 3

Exfoliate your arms weekly. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells from your arms. You can exfoliate using items such as loofah sponges, sugar scrubs or exfoliating gloves.

Step 4

Avoid clothing that hugs the arms. Tight clothing worsens body acne by not allowing the skin to breathe.

Step 5

Wear your hair away from your arms. Sometimes long hair can promote whiteheads.


  • If over-the-counter treatments don’t work, contact a dermatologist. Dermatologists can prescribe stronger medications. Common medications include antibiotics and retinoids. Check with your dermatologist for alternative treatments. Under a dermatologist’s care, certain laser treatments and chemical peels can remove small whiteheads from the arm. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, oral and topical treatments may take up to eight weeks before results become visible. Avoid the temptation to squeeze or pick at whiteheads. Even on the arm, these actions can cause scars and dark spots.


  • Sometimes over-the-counter medications cause side effects such as redness and burning. If a negative reaction occurs after using an acne medication, contact a healthcare provider. Stay out of the sun. Acne medications may predispose you to sun damage, according to the NIAMS. If treatments fail to work, if small scars appear or if you become embarrassed because of your whiteheads, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that you visit a dermatologist.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Elizabeth Streeter has been writing professionally since 2000. She specializes in subjects ranging from how to live a happier life to potentially harmful food and drug-related interactions. Streeter has written for "Family Circle," "Woman's Day," "Natural Health" and "Fitness." Streeter holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition science from Auburn University and is currently working towards a Master of Arts in psychology.