If you have been struggling to remove blackheads, and feel like you’ve tried every possible product and you’re still getting nowhere with them, you could be dealing with sebaceous filaments. In this blog we will explain how you can spot the difference between blackheads and sebaceous filaments and tell you exactly which prevention and treatment methods work best to minimize your pores and leave you with clear, radiant skin.
Similar in appearance to blackheads, sebaceous filaments are tiny structures that allow the skin’s natural oils to flow to the surface. If you have typically oily skin, this means that there is an overproduction of sebum, a natural oily substance that is intended to lubricate the skin. Whenever this overproduction of sebum occurs, the sebaceous filaments can fill up and resemble very enlarged pores. If this happens, most people tend to assume they are dealing with blackheads and will end up wasting their time and money on an array of acne products. Sebaceous filaments are not a type of acne, they are normal structures within the skin. However, the overproduction of sebum that causes sebaceous filaments to fill up and become noticeable can also cause whiteheads or blackheads.
How to tell the difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads
It’s important to be aware of the differences between sebaceous filaments and blackheads in order to treat your skin effectively.
A blackhead is a blockage or plug at the top of a pore which prevents oil from escaping. A sebaceous filament is a thin, hair-like structure that lines the inside of the pore and helps sebum travel to the skin’s surface. It has no plug.
A visible sebaceous filament can look like a dark dot on the skin. The dot may resemble the head of a pin, and it can be yellow, gray, or clear. A blackhead is a very dark plug at the top of a pore. The dark color develops when the plug is oxidized through contact with the air.
If you were to squeeze a sebaceous filament, a white or yellow worm-like structure may ooze out. Or, the filament may not produce anything. Always take caution as trying to extract sebaceous filaments can injure the skin and cause permanent scarring. It can also damage and stretch the pore, making it appear bigger. If you were to extract a blackhead, the dark plug may come off. Beneath it, there may be white or yellow sebum and skin cells. We do not recommend that you squeeze or pop your skin to relieve acne or any other skin condition as it will cause irritation.
Preventing Sebaceous Filaments
As is the case with most skin conditions, prevention is always better than a cure. There are practices that you can introduce into your daily skin routine to keep sebaceous filaments from filling up and becoming enlarged. Since sebaceous filaments become more prominent as a result of overproduction of sebum, you should take measures to minimize your skin’s overall oiliness. If you have an oily skin type, it’s important that you do not sacrifice your skin’s natural moisture in pursuit of reducing the amount of oil that your skin produces.
Here are some tips for striking the right balance.
- Cleanse your face when you wake up, before bed and after exercise
- Avoid aggressive scrubbing which will irritate your skin
- Use non-comedogenic skin care products – these are less likely to clog your pores
- Keep your skin hydrated by using a daily moisturiser
- Use a gentle cleanser – harsh foaming products will dry out your skin prompting it to produce more oil
Controlling the amount of oil on your skin and regular exfoliation can help keep your pores clear and may minimize the appearance of sebaceous filaments. The best products you can use will depend on your unique skin type so be careful with the products that you choose. If you are unsure about what specific types of skin care products are most suitable for your skin, you can book an appointment to speak with one of our skin care experts. No skin care product can completely get rid of noticeable sebaceous filaments because they are a necessary part of the skin’s structure. However, the following ingredients and approaches can help reduce their appearance.
Regular use of a salicylic acid can really help target sebaceous filaments because this ingredient is oil-soluble and can dissolve sebum and other substances crowding the pore lining. Neogenisis Salicylic Acid Gel is a great product you can introduce to your skin care routine which only needs to be applied once daily after cleansing.
Microneedling, also known as Collagen Induction Therapy, is shown to be an effective treatment in reducing the size of pores. The number of treatments needed will vary from person to person as it depends on individual skin assessment however a minimum of three procedures is recommended for optimum results.
Long-term sun exposure can make the pores larger, which may lead to more noticeable sebaceous filaments. Using sunscreen every day can help minimize the adverse effects of exposure and help keep the skin healthy. People with oily skin and large pores may prefer to use sunscreen that is oil-free and noncomedogenic, meaning that it does not clog pores. Using greasy or heavy sunscreen could make large pores more noticeable.