Do you constantly squeeze out blackheads from your nose, only to find that they return a few days later? Well you might be shocked but what you’re squeezing out of the pores on your nose aren’t actually blackheads! Read today’s blog post to find out what they are and if there’s anything you can do to prevent them from coming back!
When I decided I wanted to blog about acne, I knew that one of the most important topics I needed to cover was sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous filaments are constantly mistaken for blackheads because they appear to be so similar.
Here’s the thing about these filaments though…
They are not related to acne!
Everyone on earth has sebaceous filaments, even those that are not acne-prone. These lucky, pimple-less people usually have smaller pores than those of us who are acne-prone so their filaments are not as visible. BUT, if you were to squeeze the pores on their nose or any other areas where filaments are more concentrated, you would see that they also have them just like us acne prone people do.
So let’s talk about the differences between blackheads and sebaceous filaments.
Blackheads vs Sebaceous Filaments
A blackhead, also known as an open comedo, is a non-inflamed acne lesion that is mainly made up of dead skin cells and oil. Its dark appearance is a result of oxidation, similar to what takes place after an apple is sliced. A blackhead most times is slightly raised and feels a little bumpy if you brush your hand over it.
On the flip side, a sebaceous filament forms from an impaction of oil in the pore. Everyone on earth produces oil to some extent so that is why everyone on earth has sebaceous filaments. A blackhead goes a step further by combining an overabundance of dead skin cells with the oil. That’s because acne prone people create up to 5 layers of dead skin cells a day, whereas those that aren’t acne prone create a regular 1 layer of dead skin cells that easily sheds and doesn’t get clogged inside of the pore.
Sebaceous filaments are usually yellow or a lighter gray in color than a blackhead. And finally, sebaceous filaments are typically flush with the skin so if you brush your hand over your face, you generally would not feel them, unlike a blackhead. Now sometimes these filaments can poke out of the pore opening a bit, but usually they are level with the skin.
How to get rid of sebaceous filaments
Exfoliating products and treatments may minimize their appearance BUT you can’t get rid of them completely! No matter how many nose strips you use (which by the way I don’t recommend) or how thorough your esthetician is with extractions, these filaments always fill right back up. That’s because you are always producing oil so there is no way to prevent them from coming back. They are just a normal part of your skin.
What’s worse is that repeated pressure from picking at the same area of the skin can cause broken or dilated capillaries. Trust me on this one, I know from personal experience. That is why at our Luminosity Acne Skincare office, we do not extract sebaceous filaments for our clients. We don’t want to risk breaking their capillaries and these filaments just fill right back up so there is no point to extract them.
We do extract true blackheads though because once they are pushed out the skin, our products will prevent them from coming back.
So while exfoliating products and treatments can help to minimize the appearance of sebaceous filaments, the best thing to do is to make peace with them and know that everyone else has them too! Just recognize that they are meant to be on your skin! It’s also important to realize that most people do not even notice them on your skin! I’ve made peace with mine many years ago and they no longer bother me. I encourage you to put away the magnifying mirror and make peace with yours as well.