To most of us, blackheads are a sign of troubled skin and clogged pores. However, what you may be seeing are not actual blackheads, rather they are just that, pores! Pores naturally contain a threadlike filament (a fiber formed from thickened oil and shed cells) that sometimes make the pores appear more obvious, called “sebaceous figments”. The size of a person’s pores is determined by genetics and larger pores are due to having larger oil glands (called sebaceous glands). Therefore, larger pores may have more noticeable sebaceous figments, which are often mistaken for blackheads.
No matter what size a pore is, it is the nature of pores to contain these filaments, and we all have them, especially in areas of the face, such as the nose. Sebaceous filaments appear as uniform dots of darkish pores (due to oxidation of the oil on top), whereas blackheads are larger, inconsistent and are darker. Blackheads are an indication of a clogged pore that may lead to a breakout or is a pore enlarged with skin debris. A blackhead can be extracted and disappear, and although sebaceous filaments may be extracted to some degree, they will always return again due to normal skin cycles.
What can be done about them? Over- scrubbing and squeezing will damage the pore, and pore strips leave the pore open to collect debris and may appear larger over time. But, the pore’s surface may be lightened with routine, gentle exfoliation and benzoyl peroxide, or covered with makeup.