Sebaceous Filaments

Sebaceous Filaments: Treatment & Causes to Know

Everyone has sebaceous filaments. For some, their sebaceous filaments are more noticeable than others. These tiny dark dots, often mistaken for blackheads, can affect men and women regardless of age or ethnicity. While generally not harmful, they can be unsightly and undesirable.

We’ll explain how sebaceous filaments become more noticeable, what causes it and what you can do to minimize their appearance.

What are Sebaceous Filaments?

Sebaceous filaments are tiny vessels that help disperse sebum. Sebum is an oily chemical your sebaceous glands produce to help lubricate the skin. These tiny filaments line the inside of your skin pores. For many, these filaments are hardly noticeable.

As your body produces more sebum, these tiny filaments can fill up and become visible, giving the appearance of a tiny black dot. They are generally most noticeable on and around the nose. This is why sebaceous filaments are often confused with blackheads. Unlike blackheads, you need your sebaceous filaments to lubricate your skin.

Related Link: What Causes Crepey Skin? (How to Get Rid of It)

How Sebaceous Filaments Differs from Blackheads

Because they look similar to blackheads, learning the difference is essential because you don’t want to damage your filaments. To distinguish between the two, you should look for these defining characteristics:


Blackheads and sebaceous filament are different things:

  • Blackheads: Are a blockage at the top of your pore. It acts as a plug, making it difficult for sebum to lubricate your skin. It may also form a small bump above the pore.
  • Sebaceous Filament: Is a hair-like vessel lining the inside of your pore to help the sebum reach the skin’s surface. The filament is deep within the pore.


On closer examination, sebaceous filaments actually appear to be a different color than blackheads. If your pore is:

  • Black: Commiserations, it’s a blackhead.
  • Sandy Yellow, Clear, or Light Grey: It’s a sebaceous filament.


When you squeeze your pore, you can easily determine if it is the filament or a blackhead. Blackheads have a dark plug that may come out, along with white or yellow sebum. If it is a sebaceous filament, then a white or yellow string-like thing may come out, or nothing will come out of the pore.

Sometimes it can be really difficult to tell the difference between the two. This is why the American Academy of Dermatology doesn’t recommend squeezing your pores or acne of any kind because it can damage the filaments and scar your skin. However, it is really difficult to resist when you have a nasty black dot on your face.

Looking for a great moisturizer to manage your oily or dry skin? Shop our effective moisturizers specially formulated for acne-prone, uneven tone, aging, combination, and sensitive skin.

Related Link: What’s Your Skin Type? The Fitzpatrick System

What Causes Sebaceous Filaments

Sebaceous filaments are a natural and essential part of your skin, several things can make your pores more noticeable and unruly:

  • Heredity: Some people have more oily skin or can have larger pores making their filaments more visible. Genetics is a mean mistress sometimes.
  • Age: As individuals age, their skin can become less elastic, allowing the pores to enlarge.
  • Thicker Hair Follicles: People with thicker hair follicles may have larger pores, making their sebaceous filaments bigger.
  • Sun Exposure: More time in the sun produces more sebum to lubricate your skin from the heat.

Notice that we didn’t mention anything about dirty or clogged pores. Some people just produce more sebum or are more susceptible to larger pores.

How to Treat Sebaceous Filaments

When your pores get noticeably bigger, you can do a few things to shrink them back to a normal size or color. That being said, everyone’s skin type is different. So what may work for a person with oily skin may not work for a person with drier skin.

You’ll need to understand what your skin type is, then select products that are specially designed for your skin type:

  • Salicylic Acid: Salicylic acid reduces oil on the skin and removes the sebum from your pores so that the filaments aren’t as large. Salicylic acid is great for clearing out your pores.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide: A common ingredient in acne products, benzoyl peroxide dries your skin and can help limit oil production, reducing your pore size. Be wary when choosing products with benzoyl peroxide because it can cause excessive dryness and peeling. If you notice your skin peeling, choose a product with less concentration of benzoyl peroxide.
  • Tea Tree Oil: People who use essential oils may want to use tea tree oil. A study found that it may help reduce oily skin. Use caution when applying tea tree oil and dilute it if applied directly to the skin. Some people have had an allergic reaction or irritation. Try it on a small skin area to ensure you aren’t allergic.
  • Sun Protection: Because long-term exposure to the sun can create larger pores, you should use sunscreen to prevent long-term exposure and skin damage. If you have oily skin, you’ll want to get a sunscreen specially formulated for oily skin to prevent clogged pores.

How to Prevent Sebaceous Filaments From Becoming More Visible

You need sebaceous filaments to assist with distributing oil to your skin to keep it youthful. But there are a few things you can do to keep a better balance of just enough oil for your skin without enlarging your pores:

  • Wash your face in the morning, evening, and after workouts
  • Don’t scrub your face or skin vigorously when cleansing
  • Use oil-free or non-comedogenic skincare products, such as moisturizers, makeup, or cleansers
  • Don’t use oil or alcohol-based cleansers
  • Use a moisturizer for hydrating your skin

Develop a Good Skincare Routine to Minimize the Appearance of Sebaceous Filaments

The best way to keep your pores small is to have a good skincare routine. As you develop these healthy habits, your skin will thank you. Make sure to use products that gently cleanse and moisturize. And look for products that are specially formulated for your skin type. These healthy habits should reduce the appearance of large or dark pores.

Perfect Image is a skincare system that can be customized to your skin type and issues. We offer excellent peels, cleansers, moisturizers, and facials that can help reduce the size of your pores and clear up any skin issues.

Need a good facial cleanser that you can customize to your skin type and skin concern? Shop our best facial cleansers.

Related Link: How to Get Plump Skin [Beauty Tips]

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