By Christa Lee
For most people, sebaceous filaments are not easily visible to the eye — until they get filled up with excess oil. Need to tell the difference at a glance? Consider this your cheat sheet: Blackheads: – Clogged pores that are made of dead skin and oil – They look like tiny dark spots – They’re a type of acne – They’re found anywhere from your face to your chest to your neck Sebaceous filaments: – A cluster of oil (sebum) and dead skin on your hair follicles – They look like small gray spots (as opposed to black) – They’re not acne – They are usually located on your nose
Sebaceous filaments aren’t harmful, but they can lead to acne. You don’t want to completely abolish them because they have the healthy function of bringing moisture to the skin’s surface. But, there are tactics to reduce their appearance or size by focusing your skincare routine on products that balance out oil production and slough off dead skin cells. “Gentle chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid are also great at loosening the dead skin cells and sebum,” says dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung.
As tempting it could be to try to pick at them, it might cause tears in your skin and introduce bacteria. “Picking and squeezing sebaceous filaments and blackheads will only produce a temporary decrease in appearance, and can cause irritation and scarring of your pores. If you’re really in the mood for an extraction, “in-office treatments include vacuum extraction after softening of the skin, such as with the Hydrafacial,” to quickly reduce their appearance, says Cheung. Just note that even if you try to get them extracted since they’re natural to your body, they eventually come back.