What are sebaceous filaments and how to get rid of them? - alkmene

What are sebaceous filaments and how to get rid of them?

Who doesn’t know them – small dark spots on the nose or chin. Most of the time they are hardly visible to others, but you notice them yourself from time to time. The first impulse is often to try to make these spots disappear by squeezing them. However, this is not really effective – because these spots are usually not blackheads, but sebaceous filaments. What exactly sebaceous filaments are, how you can recognize them and how you can treat them best, you will learn in this article.

Follicles, sebaceous glands and sebaceous filaments

Already from the name sebaceous filaments you can see that this must be something that takes place in the sebaceous glands of the skin. So, in order to understand what a sebaceous filament is, you must first know what a follicle is and how it is roughly constructed.

What are follicles and sebaceous glands?

When we talk about follicles, we are initially always referring to hollow structures. Three types of follicles are found in human skin: terminal hair follicles, vellus hair follicles and sebaceous gland follicles. However, when it comes to follicle filaments, of these three types of follicles, only the sebaceous gland follicles are of interest. These sebaceous follicles are composed of different components. An opening towards the skin surface, which is visible to us as a pore, and a funnel-shaped duct into the interior of the skin. Follicle filaments can be found within these sebaceous gland follicles.

What are sebaceous filaments?

A sebaceous filament is a white to yellowish mass that fills a sebaceous gland. The surface of the filaments is smooth and can be whitish to dark brown or black visible in the pores. When light pressure is applied to these small recognizable spots, the filamentous sebaceous filaments rise from the sebaceous gland follicle and skin.

Sebaceous filaments are composed of bacteria and fats such as sebum at their core, surrounded by a collection of horny cells. It is important to note that this is not a disease or inflammation of the skin, but rather a useful protective function. Sebaceous filaments help the sebum flow out of the skin and thus ensure that our skin does not dry out.

infografic on sebaceous filaments and where they occur


Sebaceous filament appearance

Every person has sebaceous glands and therefore every person has follicular filaments. However, the extent to which these are pronounced varies from person to person.

When do sebaceous filaments appear?

There are no individual differences in the composition of the sebaceous filaments, but there are significant differences in the amount of sebum produced. Especially in people who tend to have oily and coarse-pored skin, visible sebaceous filaments appear more frequently.

Glühbirnen Modul 

INFO: The expression of sebaceous gland size and activity is also influenced by genetic factors.

Where do sebaceous filaments appear?

Sebaceous filaments can only occur in body regions where sebaceous glands are also present. These are the areas of the face, upper arms, upper back and chest. How pronounced the sebaceous filaments are in each area varies from person to person. In most people, sebaceous filaments are visible on the nose and chin. They often appear as groups of small dots on the nose or chin.

What is the difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads?

Sebaceous filaments are often mistaken for blackheads – the first reaction is usually: Squeezing. However, this does not have the desired effect and the sebaceous filaments do not disappear. Blackheads and sebaceous filaments have significant differences, which should be known and observed during treatment.

While sebaceous filaments are simply collections of sebum in the sebaceous follicles that help to moisturize the skin, blackheads are clogged pores and skin impurities that can cause inflammation. While blackheads can arise from follicles that contain a sebaceous filament, this is rarely the case. This is because sebaceous filaments mainly occur around the nose and chin, where blackheads are rarely found.


weiße gluehbirne auf gruenem hintergrund


TIP: You can tell if it is a blackhead or a sebaceous filament by two things: If the dark spots appear in groups on the nose or chin, they are most likely follicular filaments. If single black spots appear, which can also be found in other areas of the face, these can be signs of blackheads.



infographic on the difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads

How to remove sebaceous filaments?

Sebaceous filaments normally do not need to be treated at all, as they are a completely natural function of the skin. However, if there is a desire to remove or get rid of sebaceous filaments, it is not that easy. Squeezing out sebaceous filaments is not recommended and is not very useful. After the filaments have been squeezed out, they fill up again after about 30 days – so you cannot get rid of follicular filaments completely!

Nevertheless, you can treat sebaceous filaments to reduce their visibility. The following tips can help you:

A very basic tip here is to cleanse your face regularly. By cleansing the face, you prevent the sebaceous pores of the sebaceous filaments from clogging and eventually developing into blackheads after all. Also, regular use of an exfoliating scrub will help remove excess sebum and dander, which will also ensure that pores do not become clogged. By cleansing and exfoliating regularly, you’ll also prevent pores from expanding due to growing sebaceous filaments, making them more visible.

If you care for your skin regularly with moisturizing creams, your skin won’t have to produce as much sebum to keep the skin hydrated. If sebum production in the sebaceous glands decreases, this can also lead to smaller sebaceous filaments – so the spots on your face are less noticeable. So a good skin care routine is sufficient in most cases to reduce the visibility of the small spots.


A warm steam bath for your face can help open up the pores. The skin can be cleansed better and the active ingredients of your skin care products can be better absorbed by your skin.

Foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, sugar and bananas, lead to increased sebum production, which can also affect the size of sebaceous filaments. Avoiding high-glycemic foods can therefore also have a positive effect on the reduction of follicle filaments. If you want to learn more about diet and skin blemishes, feel free to read this post.

weiße gluehbirne auf gruenem hintergrund

IMPORTANT: If you want to have your sebaceous filaments cleansed, we recommend that you have them professionally cleansed by a beautician. If you try to remove sebaceous filaments on your nose and chin by squeezing them yourself, you may injure or irritate the skin surface. This will make your skin more susceptible to bacteria and the development of actual blemishes or inflammation.



Conclusion: Sebaceous filaments are completely natural and do not need to be fought!

Everyone has follicular filaments – fortunately! After all, they fulfill an important function of the skin. Fighting them is therefore neither necessary nor sensible, because the spots are part of our completely normal skin appearance!

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