Sebaceous Filaments are a collection of sebum within your pores. They form a lining around the hair in your pores, and cover the inner wall of your skin pores, thereby keeping your surface skin soft. They are present all over your face but are more concentrated and visible on and around the nose and chin area.
Sebaceous Filaments are often mistaken for blackheads/whiteheads but unlike the latter, aren’t really problematic. In fact, they are hardly even visible. That is, unless your sebaceous filaments are congested with dead skin cells or get inflamed due to bacteria. All skin types are prone to excessive sebaceous filament congestion, but it is more common in people with oily or combination skin, especially during summers and monsoons.
If you have ever scraped your nose or chin with your nails accidentally or intentionally, you might have seen thin whitish strands, sometimes as tiny as a dot and other times even a few mm long; these are nothing but sebaceous filaments. Their color can vary from white to off white to a greyish shade.
SEBACEOUS FILAMENT VS WHITEHEADS AND GENERAL ACNE
The tiny white or off white dots of sebaceous filament on your nose or around it can easily be confused with whiteheads or general acne, but you can differentiate with some self examination:
- Sebaceous filaments often occur in clusters or as many small dots in a small spot. Sometimes, when cotton buds are rubbed over it, they even fall off like a sticky powder. These kinds are very common around the nose area.
- When they are in bumpy form, they usually occur near your nose folds or inside your chin fold below the lower lip. On touching they feel like silicony tiny fibres or if they are big they feel like a stiff sponge. Regular acne bumps on other hands are painful or itchy or feel stiff like a tiny bead on touching.
SEBACEOUS FILAMENTS VS BLACKHEADS
Differentiating between whitish sebaceous filament and blackheads is not as hard. Take note of these points:
- They can be differentiated by their color. Whitish or greyish dots are sebaceous filaments and black ones are blackheads.
- On extraction, sebaceous filament gets extracted easier than blackheads. So, when you use the nose strips most of the whitish thing you see on that black charcoal strip is sebaceous filament and only some portion of blackhead is extracted. Strips provide temporary satisfaction and are really not a solution. So I do not recommend them.
- Sebaceous filaments have hollow structures as they surround the hair in your pores whereas the blackheads on extraction look like a solid plug as it’s something that conceals the pore from top.
HOW TO REMOVE & REDUCE SEBACEOUS FILAMENTS
- Oil Cleanser – Using an oil-based cleanser daily at night like the Banila Co Clean It Zero or Hemish All Clean Balm is a very effective and gentle way of keeping sebaceous filament congestion at bay. Oil cleansers effectively reach the inside of the pores, thus reducing pore congestion.
- Gentle BHA Cleanser – Use a gentle BHA based cleanser daily in your morning and night routines. Avoid drying out your skin completely with harsh cleansers. I suggest trying out the Cosrx Low ph Good Morning Gel Cleanser. It contains Betaine Salicylate, a derivative of Salicylic Acid. Using it regularly will help keep your pores clean without drying out the skin.
- Gentle Salicylic Acid Toner – Try the Benton Aloe BHA Toner, it contains 0.5% salicylic acid and has skin hydrating and calming properties as well. People with oily and combination skin can use it daily at night and in the day time as well. However, if you have dry skin or sensitivity issue along with sebaceous filament, then use this toner 2-3 times a week at night.
- Weekly Salicylic Acid Treatment- Go for the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid or any other salicylic acid concentrated solution with strength around 2%. If you have oily or combination skin with congested sebacious filaments, use the solution 2-3 times a week at night. Other skin types need to do this only once a week at night or even completely skip this.
- Lightweight Moisturiser – Avoid using rich moisturisers and opt for gel-based ones instead. Here are some good options to help you deal with sebaceous filaments issues that is best suited for summer and monsoon seasons:
a. Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel – Very oily skin
b. Etude House Soon Jung Moist Emulsion – Oily skin
c. Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Aqua Gel Cream – Combination skin ~ Oily skin.
d. Somebymi AHA BHA PHA Miracle Cream – Combination skin ~ Dry skin.
e. Cosrx Oil Free Lotion – Dry skin.
- Clay Mask – Adding a clay mask to your PM routine once or twice a week can help. Apply on full face or on effected area to reduce filament congestion in your skin. Make sure you skip the clay mask on nights when you use the concentrated salicylic treatment (2%). P.s. Clay mask is a great option for those with dry or sensitive skin who don’t want to use the concentrated salicylic acid treatment.
Before winding up, I want to mention that sebaceous filaments are a natural part of your skin and cannot be completely removed. Due the genetics and lifestyle, some may experience lot of filament congestion while some may never notice them. Using the mentioned products will however keep these filament congestions in check.
Have you tried any of these products or tips to reduce the sebaceous Filaments in your skin? Do you have any favourite tips or products that you would like to share below in comments?