A pimple can be an embarrassing, temporary feature but even worse than that is a whitehead which is very visible. Contrary to popular belief, a whitehead is actually something different from a pimple; it is believed to be your body’s reaction to trying to deal with bacteria. When sebum, the fatty matter which lubricates hair and skin, builds up in a blocked oil duct, bacteria attacks and the area becomes red, swollen and sometimes quite sore. To deal with this, your body will send white blood cells (your body’s version of homeland security) to the area and thus, cause a whitehead.

While the temptation to pop a whitehead can be overpowering, the results can last for years. Squeezing can leave your skin bruised and marked with a blemish. You can avoid that by using one of these natural methods.

Aloe Vera: The bitter thick sap of the aloe vera plant has been revered for its medicinal properties for years. The plant has been used to help heal first degree burns, shrink warts, and even clear acne. Enzymes in the plant said to be able to reduce inflammation in whiteheads. To use, simply cut off a piece of an aloe vera leaf, peel off the skin, and use the thick jelly as a topical treatment. Leave it on for at least 20 minutes then rinse off with cold water. The gel is almost neutral in smell and has a very slimy consistency. Rather than buying the aloe vera in a bottle which can be diluted down, buy an aloe vera plant which is inexpensive and fresh or consider buying the leaf. At many Asian markets, aloe vera leaves can be bought for a low price and you can get multiple uses out of one leaf. Store your aloe vera leaf in the fridge once cut.

Mint: Mint isn’t just a garnish; it can be used to help kill off whiteheads. Mint is both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial and can be found in some natural acne medications. To use it, take a few mint leaves and crush it, helps if you have a mortar and pestle, then rub it on the trouble spot. You’ll feel a cooling sensation, after 5-10 minutes wash it off with cold water. Both aloe vera and mint might not eliminate the whitehead right off the back so be patient with these treatments, they may take several treatments over the course of a week.

Steam: Perhaps the best way to fight a whitehead is to avoid it completely. That build up of bacteria is the result of clogged pores and using steam is a way to help clean them out. All you have to do is pour some hot water into a bowl and put your head over it. To concentrate the steam, consider putting a towel over your head to make a tent to keep the steam on your pores. If you’d like a better scent, add a few drops of mint oil into the water. Soak your face for about five minutes then rinse with cold water to clear your pores and close them. This process might be helpful for those who can’t wash their face with abrasive cleansers.

Maintenance is the best and easiest way to prevent whiteheads is to keep your face as clean as possible. Consider finding a daily cleanser that isn’t full of acid which can damage and dry out skin and an exfoliator to help clear out pores from time to time. Be careful when shopping for one because a coarse exfoliator can actually cause pimples by aggravating your skin. There are also products out there that target whiteheads should one make it's way to the surface of your skin. If whiteheads keep popping up, mull over seeing a dermatologist, not only do they have the tools to remove a whitehead, they can also tell you what’s going on with your skin. Always remember that a whitehead isn’t long term but squeezing one can cause scarring that is, so take caution when approaching a whitehead.