What Are They?
Have you ever noticed tiny white or yellowish bumps on your chin and around your nose? They stick out of each tiny pore on your skin. They're not whiteheads, which is acne caused by oil and dead skin that closes off hair follicles or sebaceous glands. And they're not milia, which are more common in babies, and are skin flakes that become trapped in small pockets near the surface of the skin.
So what are those annoying white hair-like structures that stick out of our pores? Well, they're called sebaceous filaments. Our skin secretes sebum through our oil glands. This sebum helps lubricate and protect the skin. Sebaceous filaments are structures that allow sebum to flow to the surface of the skin.
If you have more oily skin, these sebaceous filaments are more prominent, but we all have them, and you can't get rid of them. However, there are steps you can take to make them appear less prominent.
When the body overproduces sebum, the filaments can fill up. They become more visible and can resemble very enlarged pores.
People often confuse these with blackheads. Blackheads are a form of acne, whereas sebaceous filaments are not a type of acne, they are normal structures within the skin.
Overproduction of sebum can lead to clogged pores which will then lead to whiteheads or blackheads.
Illustration source: Wikipedia
How Do You Get Rid of Them?
While we cannot truly get rid of sebaceous filaments, there are steps we can take to minimize their appearance and to prevent buildup of sebum that makes these filaments more prominent.
To start off, use a gentle cleanser that doesn't strip your skin of its sebum. We've all been taught that "squeaky" clean means that your skin is truly clean. However, when your skin actually feels "squeaky" clean, you are removing all of the good lubricating sebum and your oil glands will produce more. It's doing its job of properly lubricating and protecting the skin. Overproduction can cause sebaceous filaments to appear, and furthermore, can cause acne.
Next, ensure you are exfoliating regulary. Whether it's chemical or physical exfoliation, any kind is necessary to aid your skin cells to turnover, and remove unwanted dead skin cells, buildup, and debris.
Finally, use sun protection. A 2015 study suggests that long-term sun exposure can make pores larger. Using sunscreen can help minimize adverse effects of exposure and keep your skin healthy.