Sebaceous Filaments- What Are They and How Do We Clear Them?


To squeeze or not squeeze. That is the question.

Ever squeezed the tip of your nose and had little white worms ooze out of your skin? That’s Sebaceous Filaments! It is a blocked passageway caused by an over secretion of sebum, it is NOT Blackheads, as it is often confused with.

Think of them as the passageway from the sebaceous glands (which produce sebum) and the skin's surface. The white worm-like structure is trapped or overfilled sebum inside the pore and sometimes the exposed tip may appear black in colour, which disguises itself as a blackhead.

They are not a type of acne; they are just simple passageways within the skin's structures. For most people, their pores even open and become enlarged, due to the overproduction of sebum.

Sebum- can’t live with too much of it and can’t live without any of it either.

Treatment plan:

Let’s understand the structural differences between a blackhead and a sebaceous filament. Blackheads are blocked pores from the top of the skin’s surface because the pore is closed, bacteria develop inside, and a pimple is formed.

The difference with a sebaceous filament is that the trapped oil travels through thin tubes/hair-like structures, then onto the skin’s surface. That’s a long worm-like structure that oozes out when you press down your nose area. This plan of squeezing them out simply doesn’t work, because the more you squeeze the oilier your skin gets and the more damage all this is doing to your delicate skin.

Using a good exfoliating product that contains a few key ingredients (like salicylic acid, retinoids, activated charcoal, tea tree oil, and even sunscreen), can help reduce these unwanted visitors. The key is to use ingredients in your products that prevent drying out and irritation to the skin.

What to avoid?

When developing a product that tackles the overproduction of sebum, it is important to understand what to leave out as much as it is vital to know what to put into a skincare product. Avoid oily chemicals and ingredients that are comedogenic as these are known to block the pores, instead use a moisturizer in your product, alcohol-free ingredients to prevent dryness and use sunscreen to protect from the sun and lock in moisture.

Although they may not be blackheads at first, sebaceous filaments can easily turn into blackheads if left untreated, so don’t confuse leaving them alone to leave them untreated. Believe it or not, they are healthy and naturally occurring, so with the correct products and a regular system, they can be controlled and balanced out.

To squeeze or not to squeeze? The answer is to just leave them alone and instead use the correct ingredients in your products!