Sebaceous filaments vs blackheads: What is the difference?

The skin, especially the face, is prone to several kinds of spots and blackheads. Once you notice these marks on your face, you may misidentify them. As you try to clear your skin, you will realize that what you have may not be blackheads but sebaceous filaments. You are not alone when it comes to misclassifying all dark spots as blackheads.

As you navigate your way to clearer skin, you will find out there are some growths in the skin that you will have to workaround.

What are sebaceous filaments?

The skin is made up of tissues, and underneath it, there are minute glands that create an oily substance called sebum which provides moisture to the skin as a way to protect it. This is made possible by sebaceous filaments that allow the sebum to come up the surface of the skin by glandular movement.

Under normal conditions, they are nothing to pay much mind to, but sebum can be over secreted. They occur on all skin types, but will most likely not be found on dry skin. Rather, they are likely to be more visible on skin with large pores and oils. When such happens, it is vivid on the skin pores and may appear like white or blackheads. This is why people often confuse them with blackheads.

Blackheads are a type of acne caused by trapped hair follicles in the skin pores.

Difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads

Sebaceous filament versus blackheads

A lot of people cannot tell the difference between both occurrences on the skin. This is an honest mistake because the excess sebum enlarges the skin pores to become visible and become darkened in color. Although they look the same, below are some differences between sebaceous filaments and blackheads.

Structural build

Sebaceous filaments are tiny structures that occur in the skin like hairs but aid the movement of sebum to the skin surface while blackheads are structured to fill up the skin pores which stops oil from leaking from the pores.

Internally they are also different, and a way to check this is by squeezing them. This is not a measure you should resort to, because it is not advisable to pop anything that grows out of your skin. But when you do, sebaceous filaments may release a yellowish substance or nothing at all. On the other hand, blackheads will release the block on the pores.


It may seem like they look the same but on a closer look, blackheads are darker in appearance than sebaceous filaments. Blackheads get their dark color from being exposed to air as they stay on top of the skin pores. The filaments appear like a spot and are grey-colored rather than black.

How to get rid of sebaceous filaments

If you’re serious about getting rid of sebaceous filaments, then it is time to get intentional about your skincare routine. This will require some lifestyle changes including washing your face regularly with warm water and a more intense facial and body skincare routine.

Control your skin oils

A good skincare routine can help reduce skin oils. The first step is exfoliation which will clear the skin. After, use a facial mask that will get into your pores, and apply a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type. Doing this will help the skin stay clear of sebaceous filaments, and the cleanse will be more effective when you use a skincare product that contains salicylic acid and tea tree oils. They are both used to treat acne as they help with oily skin.

Reduce your sun exposure

Studies have shown that prolonged sun exposure on the skin increases the size of skin pores. This, in turn, will make the sebaceous filaments on your skin more visible. This can be reduced by using sunscreen, wearing clothes that cover up the skin, and avoiding spending too much time out in the sun.

Use of supplements

This is a medical approach to get rid of sebaceous filaments. Certain supplements can help maintain the balance of sebum production on the skin from within your body. Supplements, when used with external skincare products, show vivid signs of helping the skin.

In all though, these measures will only help you to reduce sebaceous filaments. This is because you cannot get rid of them, as they are a part of your body.


In summary, sebaceous filaments are natural occurrences in the skin and are visible when there is no balance between its job of lubricating the skin and over secretion. The only way to prevent it is by controlling the skin oils. This can be achieved by washing and using special skincare products that exfoliate your skin.

If your aim is to get clear skin, you just have to take proper care of your skin because sebaceous filaments will always be a part of your skin.

Fanti Tukuwei
I'm a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle enthusiast, and the ultimate curves queen. Here, I share beauty, fashion, and lifestyle tips to teach, inspire, and give confidence to all women.