Blackheads and Sebaceous Filaments commonly reside in the same areas, such as the nose, chin, and forehead. Their external appearance so closely resembles each other that they are usually interchanged– both look like oil-filled holes. But there is a difference between the two; wherein one is an essential feature of the skin while the other remains an aesthetic issue.
Blackheads are black protrusions that create a sandpaper-like texture to your skin. They are composed of a mix of dirt, oil, and dead skin. When exposed to air, the mixture gets oxidized turning it black. A distinguishing characteristic of a blackhead, aside from texture and color, is its form when pulled out– it looks like a plug that takes the shape of its pore.
Sebaceous filaments, on the other hand, are flesh-colored or gray pits mainly composed of sebum. They are a natural feature of the skin that provides oil for added moisture. Usually, there is no need to treat these filaments. However, the appearance can be controlled with alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids to lessen the oil. In contrast to blackheads, these filaments ooze out as a loose worm-like string when extracted.
Blackheads are more likely to be extracted and treated more regularly with acids and retinoids; whereas, sebaceous filaments can be left untouched.
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Dr. Elli Reyes is a specialist of Aesthetic Medicine from the Philippines. With over four years of specialized training, her aesthetic practice has involved a variety of skin treatments involving Botox, fillers, and the like. As a licensed physician, she has been engaged by multiple clinics and is regularly interviewed by the local media as an expert in the science of the skin. Her research and writings to date have centered on nutrition, functional health, and general beauty.