Blackheads Vs. Sebaceous Filaments: Differences And How To Get Rid Of Them

Written by Annie Jangam

If you have oily skin, you might assume that the tiny black dots on your T-zone are blackheads. However, some of them can be sebaceous filaments. It is easy to get confused between the two as both of them look similar. This article discusses how sebaceous filaments and blackheads are different and how to manage and treat them.

Difference Between Sebaceous Filaments And Blackheads

Differentiating FactorsSebaceous FilamentsBlackheads
What Do They Look Like?
  • They are not visible unless filled with sebum.
  • They are thin,

    hair-like structures inside the pores and circulate sebum to the skin surface.

  • They are plugs at the top of the pores, trapping oil and sebum.
  • They oxidize and look like small black bumps (comedones).

  •  They are a part of the skin.
  • They become visible due to excess sebum and dead cell accumulation.
  •  Clogged pores due to sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria accumulation.
  • They may form from a sebaceous filament.
  • Usually on the nose and adjacent cheeks.

  • On the face (nose and chin), back, neck, chest, arms, and shoulders.

  • Sandy, clear, or light gray

  • Black

  • If you squeeze a sebaceous filament, a white or yellow worm-like structure may ooze out.

  • If you extract a blackhead, the dark plug may come off.

Sebaceous filaments are natural structures on the skin and become noticeable due to excess sebum secretion. You cannot get rid of them. However, you can make them less visible by keeping the pores clean. Remember, the presence of these filaments is not a sign of bad hygiene.

How To Clean Sebaceous Filaments

1. Cleansing

  •  Use mild and gentle products to cleanse your skin.
  •  Avoid alcohol-based products as they can irritate or overdry your skin.
  •  Use skin care products that suit your skin type. Go for oil-free, non-comedogenic products.
  •  Wash your face twice a day (especially after a workout and before sleeping).

2. Exfoliating

3. Moisturize

Moisturize your skin every day to keep it hydrated. Hydrated skin does not produce excess sebum and oils. This keeps the sebaceous filaments clean.

4. Sun Protection

  •  Use sunscreen to prevent signs of photoaging and any further damage to the skin.
  •  Use a non-oily and non-comedogenic product.

These are a few ways to keep the skin clean, protect it, and prevent visible sebaceous filaments. Now, let’s take a look at how you may get rid of blackheads.

How To Get Rid Of Blackheads

  •  Use products with BHA (salicylic acid) to dislodge the blackheads. You may also use AHAs and benzoyl peroxide to clear blackheads.
  •  Topical retinoids (vitamin A derivative) also help in managing acne and blackheads. You will get OTC retinol products. However, for retinoids, you need a doctor’s prescription.
  •  Hydrogen peroxide is also a widely used topical remedy for acne and blackheads. However, there is not enough data to support its efficacy.
  •  Use steam to loosen the trapped dirt and sebum. This will help in easy blackhead removal and extraction.
  •  Nose and facial strips and vacuum pore cleaners can also clear blackheads.
  •  Stress can trigger excess sebum production and acne. If you have excess blackheads and acne, try to reduce your stress levels.
  •  Similarly, diet (dairy products and chocolate) can trigger acne. Follow a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits.

You may follow the tips to keep your skin clean and prevent blackheads and visible sebaceous filaments. A proper skin care regimen is the best way to avoid breakouts and clogged pores.

Extracting blackheads and clogged pores can damage your skin. If you have stubborn blackheads and are concerned about the appearance of your sebaceous filaments, consult a doctor or a dermatologist to learn more about the type of chemical exfoliant and the percentage you need to use.

To Conclude

Sebaceous filaments are naturally occurring glands in the skin, which become visible due to excess production of sebum. When they clog, they may cause blackheads. Controlling oil production and keeping the skin clear can help manage both. Follow a good skin care routine, exfoliate regularly, and use oil-free, alcohol-free, and non-comedogenic products to get rid of them. However, consult a doctor before using chemical exfoliants as they may irritate the skin.


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