What Are Blackheads and How Can You Treat Them? – Skin Rocks

Blackheads 101

Want to know what you can do about blackheads? Here, Skin Specialist Megan Abraham explains all you need to know about them including the difference between blackheads and sebaceous filaments – a normal part of the skin that often gets mistaken for the common skin concern.

What are blackheads?

This may come as a surprise, but blackheads are actually a form of acne. Also known as open comedones, they form when the opening of a hair follicle becomes clogged with excess oil and/or dead skin cells. The clog then oxidises as it comes into contact with the air and this turns it black 

Blackheads vs. Sebaceous Filaments

Sebaceous filaments are different to blackheads but look incredibly similar. Sebaceous filaments are thin, hair-like structures that line the pore and are responsible for keeping the surface of the skin moisturised with oil (aka sebum). When there is too much oil or a build-up of skin cells, this is when a blackhead forms.

Sebaceous filaments are a natural structure in the skin and should not be squeezed. There are some products that can certainly help reduce them, however, which we will get to later.

How do you tell the difference?

Blackheads are black in colour and slightly raised, whereas sebaceous filaments are tiny greyish/black flat dots. You will more than likely have sebaceous filaments on your nose.


Image of blackheads on the left and sebaceous filaments on the right


How can you treat them?

Both blackheads and sebaceous filaments require similar treatment:

  • First things first, resist the urge to pick, pop and squeeze! You run the risk of scarring and could introduce bacteria, causing a whole host of new issues.

  • Make sure that you are using a suitable cleanser for your skin type and that you’re cleansing properly every day. Aim to cleanse for around 30-60 seconds. This will help to ensure that pore-clogging excess oil, dirt and grime are being removed.

  • Blackheads still not budging? Seek a professional. A skin specialist can perform manual extractions or carry out a targeted treatment. 

Remember, real skin has pores, flaws and texture. Whilst we may strive to remove every ‘impurity’, we will never remove our sebaceous filaments completely, no matter how hard we try.



Words by Megan Abraham, Aesthetician and Skin Specialist

Qualifications - VTCT Level 3 Facial Electrics, VTCT Level 4 in Microneedling and Chemical Peels 

Follow Megan @allaboutskinstudio