Blackheads vs Sebaceous Filaments

The two terms are often confused. The simple answer is that sebaceous filaments are normal where as a blackhead is not. Today I wanted to talk a little more in depth about the difference between blackheads vs sebaceous filaments.

Lets talk about black heads first

A blackhead is an open comedone which is blocking the pore. It is formed from sebum that gets trapped in the pore from dead skin cells. When this plug is exposed to oxygen it will turn black. A white head occurs if there is no exposure to oxygen. Black head and whiteheads should be extracted.  A blackhead will “excrete” a waxy firm substance. Black heads are associated with acne prone skin and can appear anywhere on the face, chest and back.

Sebaceous filaments are also a mixture of sebum but it is not tapped, it is considered a normal physiologic process of sebaceous secretions. This sebum lines the hair follicle, it also helps lubricate the skin. The reason they are visible is because the pore has become enlarged and the amount of sebum being produced is increased.  Source

Our face oil is made up of squalene, triglycerides and wax esters. This layer helps protect the skin and prevents water evaporation, this layer also helps keep bacteria out. Sebaceous glands are highly concentrated around your nose and forehead, this is why we see more sebaceous filaments in these areas.

Sebaceous filaments are soft and easy to extract, doing so will only lead to recurrence of the sebum within the pore though. Sebaceous filaments can be associated with skin that does not have acne although people inflicted with rosacea skin may have a higher risk for sebaceous filaments.

Blackheads vs Sebaceous Filaments -Can we shrink a pore?

No, we can make the pore less visible by cleaning it out but the pore size does not change. Our goal is to keep the pores cleaned out and the skin hydrated. Drier skin make pores more visible.

How can we clean our pores?

You may find Beta Hydroxy Acids in a washes, peels, masks such as Purify and or leave on spot treatment such as Remedy

Face washes

Enzyme peels– Enzyme peels are mild and are good for sensitive skin. Enzyme peels  can help exfoliate dead skin cells. They are referred to as enzyme peels because they use keratolytic enzymes  to break done the skin cell connections. Look for ingredients that use papaya (papain),  pumpkin, pineapple (bromelain)  and Mucor from mushrooms.

Chemical peels and masks  include salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid. These peels range  from superficial to medium to deep as far as how much they penetrate the skin’s layers. Chemical peels exfoliate dead skin cells and can also remove living cells. It is important to note that chemical peels are associated with heightened sun sensitivity

Masks are a great way to cleanse our pores. You will notice a difference in the skins appearance if you use a face mask once a week.

Words of caution 

Popping and squeezing your skin can damage the skin and you are also more likely to spread bacteria.

Although pore strips were designed to remove excess oil from a pore, they are rough on the skin and may lead to broken capillaries with continued use. People with rosacea are more prone to developing broken capillaries and should probably avoid this strips.

What do you think of the difference between blackheads and sebaceous filaments?

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