Sebum Plugs: Everything You Need To Know
At some point, you have probably noticed all of those pores on your nose and thought about attacking them. It can be tempting and more often than not we believe we’re doing a good thing. Nobody wants to see those dreaded blackheads appearing. However, those ‘clogged’ pores you’re noticing are most likely to be sebum plugs. Thats right, they’re not blackheads…
What Are Sebum Plugs?
Sebum plugs, also known as sebaceous filaments are actually a completely natural and normal part of our skin. However, we’re willing to take a guess and say you have probably been mistaking them for blackheads!
In fact, they are quite simply a build up of the oily liquid known as sebum within the pore. Sebum is integral to protecting our skin, and it is also know to be beneficial to our hair. The sebum is produced by the sebaceous gland, hence the name sebaceous filaments.
What Do They Look Like?
Usually you can spot a blackhead easy enough, sebum plugs are a little trickier but if you grab a magnifying glass you can see them no problem. You will notice that although they may look like little black dots from a distance, they are actually more of a white or yellow color. When you squeeze them, you’ll notice a hard-ish clear substance (sebum) that resembles a thin ‘filament’.
Do They Cause Blackheads?
In short, yes they do. They’re pretty much the foundation of those nasty blackheads, whiteheads and even epidermal cysts. Clogged pores are where sebum plugs turn into a problem. When exposed to air, the sebum oxidizes, turns black and becomes a blackhead.
So, Can You Squeeze Them?
You can, but we would recommend that you don’t. They’re perfectly healthy, and the risks you take by squeezing them are not worth it! Firstly, the aggressive pressure you apply to the pore can cause scarring. Secondly, and this is even worse, you can cause the pores to stretch. This makes them larger and permanently in many cases. Larger pores means more dirt and blackhead problems, far from ideal!
How To Treat Sebum Plugs?
As mentioned, sebaceous filaments are healthy, the goal is not to try and remove them completely (which you would do well to achieve anyway). The objective is to prevent them from turning into breakouts or cysts. We would recommend a gentle exfoliator to break down and dissolve the sebum plugs. Your pores will refill eventually so it is important to be consistent with your routine.
Despite the importance of using an exfoliator, please take care. Use them sparingly, otherwise the sebaceous gland activity can decrease, if this happens, there will not be enough sebum being produced. Without that all important sebum, you’ll notice your skin is much drier.
Our Online Dermatologists Are Here For You
We hope we’ve helped you understand the basics on sebum plugs here, and the key takeaway is not to squeeze them! If you have noticed a spot, a mole or something suspicious on your skin then we would advise speaking to a dermatologist for an experts opinion. Here at First Derm, we have online dermatologists ready to take a look at your skin concerns. Simply upload an image anonymously and we’ll do the rest!
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence.