Sebum buildup on nose

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What Causes Large Nose Pores and What Can You Do?

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What are nose pores?

Nose pores are the openings to the hair follicles on your skin. Attached to these follicles are sebaceous glands. These glands produce a natural oil called sebum which keeps your skin moisturized.

While pores are a necessity to your skin health, they can come in different sizes. Nose pores are naturally larger than those that are located on other parts of your skin. This is because the sebaceous glands underneath them are larger, too. You’re also more likely to have enlarged nose pores if you have oily skin. Enlarged nose pores are also genetic.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to literally shrink large nose pores. But there are ways you can help make them appear smaller. Read on to learn all the culprits behind enlarged nose pores and what you can do to help prevent them.

What causes nose pores to appear larger?

Nose pores are inherently larger. If the pores on your nose get clogged, this can become more noticeable. Clogged pores typically consist of a combination of sebum and dead skin cells that get stock in the hair follicles beneath. This creates “plugs” that can then harden and enlarge the follicle walls. In turn, this can make the pores more noticeable.

More individual causes of clogged pores and enlargement include:

  • acne
  • excess oil production (common in oily skin types)
  • lack of exfoliation, which causes a buildup of dead skin cells
  • increased humidity
  • heat
  • sun exposure, especially if you don’t wear sunscreen
  • genes (if your parents have oily skin and large nose pores, you will likely have the same)
  • hormone fluctuations, such as during menstruation or puberty
  • alcohol or caffeine consumption (these can dry out your skin and lead to increased sebum production)
  • poor diet (while no single foods have proven to cause acne, plant-based diets are thought to help with skin health)
  • extreme stress
  • poor skin care habits (such as not washing your face twice a day, or wearing oil-based makeup)
  • dry skin (ironically, having dry skin can make pores more noticeable due to an increase in sebum production and accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin)

How to clean and unclog nose pores

The first step to resolving nose pores is to make sure they’re clean. Oil, dirt, and makeup can lead to clogged nose pores.

Remove all makeup before bed

Wearing oil-free, noncomedogenic products doesn’t give you a pass for bedtime makeup removal. Even the most skin-friendly makeup products can clog your pores if you leave them on overnight.

Your first step to unclogging nose pores is to make sure they’re cosmetic-free before going to bed. You should also remove makeup before washing your face to make sure the cleanser can work in your nose pores more effectively.

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Cleanse twice a day

Cleansing removes any leftover makeup, as well as oil, dirt, and bacteria from your pores. Ideally, you should do this twice a day. You might need to cleanse again during the day after you work out, too.

Oily skin is served best with a gentle cleanser that’s either gel- or cream-based. These will help to clean out nose pores without irritating them, thereby making them even more noticeable.

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Use the right moisturizer

Even though your nose pores might be making more sebum, you still need to follow up each cleanse with a moisturizer. This prevents any over-drying that can worsen nose pore issues. Look for a water- or gel-based product that won’t clog your pores. Check out some of the best facial moisturizers on the market.

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Deep-clean your pores with a clay mask

Clay masks help draw out plugs in your pores and can also help give the appearance of smaller pores. For best results, use two to three times per week. If the rest of your face is on the dryer side, feel free to use the clay mask on your nose only.

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Exfoliate dead skin cells

Use an exfoliating product two to three times a week to help get rid of dead skin cells that may be clogging your pores. The key here is to massage the product onto your nose and let the product do the heavy lifting — scrubbing the exfoliant into your skin will only cause further aggravation.

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Other OTC products and steps

You can also keep your nose pores clean with these products — available at drugstores or online:

Although using nose strips may remove blackheads, they may also remove natural oils, leading to irritation and dryness.

How to make nose pores appear smaller

Despite keeping your nose pores clean, genes, environment, and your skin type may still make them more noticeable. Consider the following treatments that may help your nose pores appear smaller. (Note that it can take a few weeks or longer to see full results.)

OTC acne products

Over-the-counter (OTC) acne products usually have salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. The latter may be helpful if you have an active acne breakout on your nose, but it doesn’t do much to decrease pore size. Salicylic acid is far more helpful in this area because it dries out dead skin cells deep in the pores, essentially unclogging them.

When used over time, salicylic acid may help your pores appear smaller on your nose by keeping dead skin cells and oil at bay. Just be sure you’re not overdoing it, as this will dry out your skin. A once or twice daily use of a salicylic acid-containing cleanser, toner, or spot treatment is enough to treat large pores.

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Microdermabrasion is a tamer version of professional dermabrasion treatments you might get at a medical spa, and without the harsh side effects. It uses a blend of small crystals or diamond crystal tipped tools that help remove the top layer of your skin. During the process, any dead skin cells and oils on the surface of your skin are removed, too. You can use a home microdermabrasion kit once a week — just be sure you’re not using it on the same day as any clay masks or exfoliants, as this will dry out your nose.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels are also known to help reduce the appearance of pores. Like microdermabrasion treatments, chemical peels also remove the top layer of skin. In theory, the skin cells that are located under the top layer of skin will be softer and more even. The more even appearance will also make nose pores look smaller. This beginner’s guide to at-home chemical peels can help your get started.

Glycolic acid is the most common ingredient in chemical peels. Citric, lactic, and malic acids are other options available on the market. All belong to a class of substances called alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). It can take some trial-and-error to determine which AHA works best for your nose pores.

The takeaway

The key to “shrinking” nose pores is to keep them clean and unclogged of any debris. If you don’t have any luck with at-home treatments, see your dermatologist for advice. They may even offer professional-grade treatments, such as medical grade chemical peels, laser treatments, or dermabrasion.



We’re all guilty of staring a little too closely at our pores in a magnified mirror. When looking at your skin, have you ever noticed small black or grey material in your pores? These look a lot like clogged pores, but they may actually be sebaceous filaments. We’re here to help you learn more about these parts of your skin and if you can get rid of sebaceous filaments.

What Are Sebaceous Filaments?

Sebaceous filaments are a natural part of your skin’s follicles where oily sebum builds up.  For many, sebaceous filaments may not be visible at all.  
However, those withoily skin or larger pores might consider them just as noticeable—and annoying—as blackheads. 

For better or worse, sebaceous filaments are a natural part of your skin and help keep it healthy and moisturized. This material carries sebum through the hair follicle to the surface of the skin and is often found in areas that produce the most oil, like the T-Zone. 

Sebaceous filaments are often confused with blackheads, but they’re really just a normal part of your skin. They form when oil is produced around a hair follicle. So, how can you tell the difference?

Blackheads vs. Sebaceous Filaments

Blackheads Sebaceous Filaments
  • Open pores (or hair follicles) clogged with an oxidized mixture of pore buildup, dead skin cells, and sebum (a naturally occurring body oil)
  • Small, dark spots on your skin
  • Non-inflammatory form of acne
  • Commonly found on the face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, and back
  • A collection of sebum and dead skin cells around a hair follicle

  • Small, light spots on your skin

  • Commonly found on the nose

You can get rid of blackheads by using a variety of over-the-counter products. Blackhead solutions typically contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and resorcinol; ingredients that work to kill bacteria, remove excess oil, and help the skin to shed dead skin cells.

Blackheads may also be removed manually by a dermatologist or specially trained skincare professional.

While sebaceous filaments are a normal and harmless part of your skin, they do have the potential to lead to blackheads.  

Blackheads are a sign that you may want to spend time cleansing your skin to get rid of the excess oil and dirt that might be clogging your pores. You can try products like Biore’s deep pore charcoal cleanser

However, sebaceous filaments themselves are still necessary to keep your skin healthy. 

Can You Get Rid of Sebaceous Filaments?

Since sebaceous filaments are a normal part of your skin, you cannot get rid of them. While large sebaceous filaments can be professionally extracted, removing them is only temporary—they always come back. However, there are ways you can make them appear smaller. To reduce the appearance of sebaceous filaments, focus on skincare products that help minimize pores and control oil production. 

Since sebaceous filaments are places in your skin where oil collects, those with oily skin or large pores may find them uncomfortably visible.  

To reduce the appearance of large sebaceous filaments, focus on skincare products that help minimize pores and control oil production. But keep in mind that sebaceous filaments are natural parts of your skin and cannot be completely removed.  

Avoid squeezing sebaceous filaments in an attempt to remove them. If you squeeze sebaceous filaments, a white or yellow substance may ooze out, or nothing may happen at all. But trying to get rid of sebaceous filaments by doing so may injure the skin and damage your pore, even making it bigger in the process. 

If you notice that your sebaceous filaments have turned into blackheads, pore strips are a highly effective way to clean clogged pores.

How to Reduce Sebaceous Filaments on Your Face

While you can’t get rid of sebaceous filaments, stop them from taking over your face with these helpful skincare tips:


  1. Use a Cleanser with Salicylic Acid. Remove excess impurities and sebum with a charcoal acne cleanser with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps dissolve the dead skin cells and oils  clogging pores that might lead to large sebaceous filaments.


  1. Apply a Clay Mask. A deep cleansing clay mask is a great sebaceous filament treatment for drawing out the sebum and dirt in your pores. After cleansing your face, apply a mask and leave it on for about minutes or as directed on the product label.


  1. Gently Massage Your Face with a Cleansing Oil. Did you know oil dissolves oil? Don’t be afraid to wash oily skin with an oil-based cleanser. Try an over-the-counter oil product or natural oil like coconut or jojoba to effectively dissolve, lift, and replace blackhead-causing oil on your face.


  1. Apply Toner and Moisturizer. After washing your face with a cleanser designed for acne-prone skin, apply a toner to refine pores and finish with a light facial moisturizer.


  1. Exfoliate Weekly. To keep sebaceous filaments from ruining your selfies, add an exfoliating scrub to your skincare routine once or twice a week. Exfoliation helps keep pores clean by removing dead skin cells and excess oil from the surface of your skin.

  • Sebaceous filaments are not blackheads or acne—they’re a natural part of your pores that help keep your skin healthy and moisturized.

  • You can help get rid of the appearance of sebaceous filaments by cleansing and toning your skin each day and exfoliating weekly.

  • The best way to treat sebaceous filaments is to focus on skincare that helps control oily skin.

  • If your sebaceous filaments turn into blackheads, use a pore strip to unclog your pores.

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What Is the White Stuff That Comes Out When You Squeeze Your Nose Pores?

The white stuff that comes out of your pores like thin strings when you squeeze your nose is called a sebaceous filament. It’s mostly made up of sebum (oil that your skin produces) and dead skin cells.

This substance typically collects in pores around your nose and chin. That’s because the pores here tend to be bigger, and the oil remains in the pore lining until you squeeze them.

Keep reading to learn more about sebaceous filaments and how to get rid of them.

What are sebaceous filaments?

A sebaceous filament is sebum and dead skin cells that collect around a hair follicle. Sebum is an oily semifluid substance produced by your skin’s sebaceous gland. It lubricates and softens our skin and hair.

Each of your hair follicles is associated with at least one sebaceous gland.

What’s the difference between sebaceous filaments and blackheads?

If you look closely at the pores on your nose (and other areas of your face), they may appear as if they’re blocked by tiny black dots. You may mistake these for a blackheads.

On closer inspection, however, these dots may appear to be clear to yellowish in color. If you were to squeeze the skin around the pore, it would come out as a yellowish-white sebaceous filament.

Can sebaceous filaments become blackheads?

The sebum and other materials plugging your pores as sebaceous filaments can eventually become blackheads. As the pore fills, the sebum is exposed to air and turns black, becoming a blackhead.

Sebaceous filaments can also be the foundation for various forms of acne, such as:

What can I do about sebaceous filaments?

Proper hygiene is the best way to deal with your clogged hair follicles. The AAD suggests a face cleaning routine that incorporates these tips:

  • Wash your face twice a day plus after sweating. Don’t wash more often, or it could irritate your skin.
  • Avoid scrubbing your face. Wash your skin gently.
  • Use proper skin care products and cosmetics. Look for terms on the label like “oil-free,” “won’t clog pores,” “noncomedogenic,” and “nonacnegenic” (nonacnegenic means it won’t cause acne in acne-prone skin)
  • Deep-clean your pores with a mask that can draw out plugs.
  • Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells that may clog your pores.
  • Use a topical treatment, such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid ointments.

See a dermatologist

Talk to a dermatologist for suggestions on types of cleansers and other products to use. They’ll make recommendations based on your specific skin type.

If needed, they can also prescribe professional grade treatments, such as:


Sebaceous filaments are the white strings that come out of your pores when you squeeze your nose.

You can usually manage them with a proper skin care routine that includes gently washing your face twice a day and using noncomedogenic and nonacnegenic products.

You might also consider:

  • exfoliating
  • using a facial mask
  • using a topical treatment

If you wish to change your skin care routine or if you have questions about cleaning your pores, it’s always a good idea to consult a dermatologist.

Extremely Clogged Pores Extracted - Contour Dermatology

Let’s try a little experiment. Stare into the closest mirror and look at the pores around your nose, chin, and general T-zone area. Do you see tiny, black-ish dots filling your pores? If you answered “no,” I’m jealous of you, bye. If you answered, “Yes,” I’m assuming you think those dots are blackheads. But what if I told those specks on your face aren’t actually blackheads but something called sebaceous filaments—a very natural, very normal part of skin that often gets mistaken for the blackheads you hate.

Welp, that’s exactly why I’m here today. And to help explain this phenomenon—since, surprise, you can’t just squeeze them and expect them to go away—I turned to dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC to give you the lowdown on blackheads versus sebaceous filaments and whether or not you can actually get rid of them.

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Are sebaceous filaments normal?

Yup, totally normal. Here’s the gist: Your sebaceous glands create an oily liquid called sebum to lubricate the skin. Sebaceous filaments (aka sebum plugs) are collections of that oily liquid. Where you run into issues is when that sebum plug mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria and causes clogged pores, which make your otherwise small pores look larger.

Do sebaceous filaments turn into blackheads?

Bingo! That’s exactly what happens. “They are essentially the foundation of our blackheads and whiteheads and often even our painful cysts,” Nazarian says. “When the sebum is exposed to air and oxidizes, it turns black and is then considered a blackhead.”


What does a sebum plug look like?

It’s easy to tell if something is a blackhead because, well, it’s black. But what about sebaceous filaments? These can look like little black dots on the skin from a distance, but go grab your grandma’s magnifying mirror, and you might find that those black dots aren’t actually black at all. On closer inspection, you’ll see that they're actually kinda clear or slightly yellow. Cute. Dr. Nazarian says, when squeezed out of the pore, they resemble a thin filament (hence the name).

Can you squeeze sebaceous filaments?

I mean, can you? Yes, *technically* you can squeeze them out. But should you? Definitely not. “I don’t recommend squeezing, because the tissue around the pores can be damaged with aggressive pressure and can lead to scarring,” Dr. Nazarian. Not only that, but excessive squeezing of your pores can actually stretch them out and make them permanently larger in the long run.

How do you get rid of sebaceous filaments?

Your skin needs a certain amount of sebum to stay healthy, so the goal is not to get rid of those sebaceous filaments completely (nor can you). Still, to prevent them from turning into actual breakouts, Dr. Nazarian recommends exfoliating with topical medications, such as glycolic acid, retinoids, and salicylic acid, to break down the plugs and dissolve them. Eventually, your pores will refill, so like a game of Whac-a-Mole, those sebaceous filaments will pop right back up, requiring you to be consistent in your routine.

Just make sure not to overdo it. “If you overuse these treatments, the sebaceous gland activity can decrease too much, and skin can become too dry, so use sparingly,” she says. You hear that? Spar-ing-ly. Now go forth and try one of these products to reduce your sebaceous filaments.

Differin Adapalene Gel % Acne Treatment


Proactiv Adapalene Gel % Acne Treatment


Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer


Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel


Brooke ShunatonaBrooke Shunatona is a contributing writer for

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On sebum nose buildup

How to Get Rid of Stubborn Sebaceous Filaments Along Your Nose and Cheeks

01of 07

Start With an Oil Cleanse to Create a Clean, Solid Base

Mata recommends using an oil cleanser to help really dig up all of that extra oil and dirt. “You can't get 'rid' of them, as they are a part of our skin,” she says of sebaceous filaments, “but you can do several things to avoid inflammation and minimize their appearance on the skin's surface. The best way to do so is by keeping the skin clean through cleansing twice daily, which will remove any surface buildup, such as dirt, dead skin cells, pollution, or makeup.”

Her recommendation is an oil cleanser like Tatcha's Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. I personally like to cleanse with an oil cleanser and then follow up with a milky, gentle cleanser.

Tatcha Oil Cleanser

TatchaPure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil$48


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Introduce a Clarifying Mask

When most of us who do our skincare at home (without the guidance of an esthetician or derm) reach regularly for a sheet mask or a clay treatment, we don't always stop and think about the ingredients and true purpose of those products. By getting intentional about your masks, you can really see a huge impact over time on the sebaceous filaments in your skin.

The Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy mask is beloved by many, and I totally understand why: White willow bark, which has natural BHAs, and fruit enzymes promise to work together to push the gunk out of your pores. The best part, though, is that the blue tansy oil itself is meant to help keep your skin calm and prevent redness, so even though you're doing a more intense mask, you won't end up with angry red skin. Use the mask for no more than 15 minutes (five for your first treatment), and use it about every other day. Rinse with warm water, and follow with gentle, hydrating products.

blue tansy mask

Herbivore BotanicalsBlue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask$48


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Try Taking a Supplement

Sometimes it's best to get right to the root of the problem. I really like ZitSticka's Skin Discipline, a supplement that promises to help promote healthier skin overall, thanks to its combo of probiotics and fatty acids. Because it is meant to help regulate sebum and prevent inflammation, it pairs well with the other products on this list, especially those that might lead to a bit of redness due to their intensity (after all, who among us hasn't gone a little too far and wreaked havoc on their skin's acid mantle?). Just take one capsule a day, and enjoy the minty flavor.

Skin Discipline

ZitStickaSkin Discipline$44


04of 07

Try an Exfoliating Toner

Moon Juice's Acid Potion has a combination of BHAs including glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids. Regarding the latter, Rouleau explains, “Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, which means it's able to cut through oil and get deep into your pores. This will allow it to start breaking up the gunk clogging your pores, minimizing the appearance of the filaments and preventing more from cropping up.” If you have a pretty basic routine, this is going to pack a punch. After you wash your face, apply this toner, and follow up with your moisturizer. During the day, don't forget sunscreen!

moon juice acid potion

Moon JuiceAcid Potion Resurfacing Exfoliator$42


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Try a Gentle At-Home Facial

Herbivore Botanicals' Prism facial is 20 percent AHA and 5 percent BHA, and these acids are where the magic happens. “Alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic and lactic acid, exfoliate the skin by removing dead skin cells,” explains Dr. Camp. “Beta hydroxy acids, like salicylic acid, are lipophilic, allowing them to mingle with oil deep within the pore and break up oil plugs.” This combination is a sebaceous filament-killer.

Key Ingredients

Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of acid compounds, most often derived from plant-based sources, which work to exfoliate the skin. They come in a variety of types (like glycolic and lactic acids) and differ in size, penetration, and potency.

To use this facial, apply a thin, even layer once or twice a week. Note that, as is the case with many facials, slight redness afterward is nothing to stress about. Follow up with gentle products, and limit your acids following the treatment.

Herbivore prism exfoliating glow potion

Herbivore BotanicalsPrism Botanical AHA + BHA Exfoliating Glow Facial$54


06of 07

Reach for Retinol

“Retinol and retinoids can also be really effective against sebaceous filaments,” explains Rouleau. Retinol can sound a little intimidating, especially if you're new at introducing actives to your skincare routine. “If your skin is sensitive or you haven't used retinol before, I suggest starting with an over-the-counter retinol,” Rouleau advises. “If you have oilier skin or have used retinol before, you can try a retinoid such as Differin, which is still available over the counter.”

To use Differin, apply a thin layer of the gel daily after cleansing (though if you're sensitive or new to retinol, you should start by applying it two to three times per week, then work your way up to daily use). Differin and other retinoids put in work, so you should see a major difference within two months.

differin adapalene gel

DifferinAdapalene Gel$13


07of 07

Try an At-Home Extraction Tool

The Dermaflash Dermapore is an expert tool that you can use to bring more intensive skincare into your own bathroom, making it a more affordable and doable option for many of us. The product works by offering two modes, one for extraction and one for infusion. In extraction mode, the tool uses ultrasonic waves (not as scary as it sounds, trust me) to vibrate away dirt and oil from clogged pores. It's important that you keep your face nice and damp throughout the treatment so that the tool smoothly glides over your skin. If you use it about once a week, you should see a noticeable improvement within a month of use as it vibrates away excess oil and dead skin cells.

Dermaflash Dermapore Ultrasonic Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser




  • Sebaceous filaments are permanent, but you can minimize their appearance.

  • Yes, you can treat sebaceous filaments at home using a blend of oil cleansing, chemical exfoliation, and at-home facials.

  • Yes, but you should take care and use a gentle approach. Steam your face first, and apply light pressure using your fingers.

Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skin. Molecules. ;23(4) doi/molecules

Why those black dots on your nose AREN’T blackheads!

Sebaceous filaments: What to know

Beneath the skin’s surface lie tiny glands that create sebum, an oily substance that helps lubricate the skin. Sebaceous filaments are structures that allow sebum to flow to the surface of the skin.

When the body overproduces sebum, the sebaceous filaments can fill up. They may become visible and resemble very enlarged pores.

People often confuse sebaceous filaments with blackheads. Blackheads are a form of acne.

Sebaceous filaments are not a type of acne, they are normal structures within the skin.

However, the overproduction of sebum that causes sebaceous filaments to fill up and become noticeable can also cause whiteheads or blackheads.

In this article, we look at how sebaceous filaments become visible. We also describe the differences between sebaceous filaments and blackheads, treatments for each, and when it might be a good idea to consult a doctor.

Differences from blackheads

When sebaceous filaments are noticeable, they can look like enlarged, darkened pores. A person might easily confuse them for blackheads.

The key differences between blackheads and sebaceous filaments involve their:


A blackhead is a blockage or plug at the top of a pore. The plug prevents oil from escaping through the pore.

A sebaceous filament is a thin, hair-like structure that lines the inside of the pore and helps sebum travel to the skin’s surface. It has no plug.

Appearance and color

A noticeable sebaceous filament may look like a dark dot on the skin. The dot may resemble the head of a pin, and it may be yellow, gray, or clear.

A blackhead is a very dark plug at the top of a pore. The dark color develops when the plug is oxidized through contact with the air.


If a person squeezes, or “extracts,” a sebaceous filament, a white or yellow worm-like structure may ooze out. Or, the filament may not produce anything.

Trying to extract sebaceous filaments can injure the skin and cause scarring. It can also damage and stretch the pore, making it appear bigger.

When a person extracts a blackhead, the dark plug may come off. Beneath it, there may be white or yellow sebum and skin cells.

The American Academy of Dermatology advise against squeezing or popping acne of any kind.


The skin’s normal process of producing sebum can cause sebaceous filaments to become noticeable.

This is more likely to occur in people with more oily skin or larger pores, compared with people who have drier skin and smaller pores.

can determine pore size, including:

  • age
  • genetics
  • having thicker hair follicles
  • sun exposure

Visible sebaceous filaments are not a sign that the skin is dirty.


Controlling the amount of oil on the skin and using exfoliating skin care products can help keep the pores clear. This may minimize the appearance of sebaceous filaments.

Use gentle products that cleanse the skin to prevent overdrying and irritation. The best product will depend on the person’s skin type.

No skin care product can completely get rid of noticeable sebaceous filaments. However, the following ingredients and approaches can help reduce their appearance:

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid, also known as beta hydroxy acid, is an ingredient in many facial cleansers and acne creams. These products may contain % to % percent salicylic acid.

This type of acid may help reduce the amount of oil on the skin and the size of sebaceous filaments. Salicylic acid is , which means that it can penetrate sebum and help clear pores.

If a person has not used a product with salicylic acid before, it may be a good idea to start with one application every day or every other day. If dryness or peeling occurs, use the product less often.

Dermatologists can apply salicylic acid peels that are stronger than over-the-counter products. These peels may provide a more dramatic difference in pore size and appearance. They contain 15–50% salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid is a derivative of aspirin, so anyone who is allergic to aspirin should not use it.

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient in acne products. It can help dry the skin and limit the amount of oil, and it may reduce the size of pores.

Benzoyl peroxide can cause excessive dryness and peeling, however, especially at higher concentrations. Anyone who experiences this should use products containing benzoyl peroxide less frequently. Or, switch to products with lower concentrations of the ingredient.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that people often use to treat acne. A small study suggests that tea tree oil may also help with oily skin.

It can, however, cause irritation and allergic reactions. Tea tree oil has the of any essential oil.

Anyone who is applying tea tree oil directly to the skin should dilute it to a strength of 5%.

Seek immediate medical care if signs of an allergic reaction occur, such as hives, swelling, or trouble breathing.

Sun protection

A suggests that long-term sun exposure can make the pores larger, which may lead to more noticeable sebaceous filaments. Sun exposure also increases the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.

Using sunscreen every day can help minimize the adverse effects of exposure and help keep the skin healthy.

People with oily skin and large pores may prefer to use sunscreen that is oil-free and noncomedogenic, meaning that it does not clog pores. Using greasy or heavy sunscreen could make large pores more noticeable.

Also, it is a good idea to wear a protective hat and clothing that covers the skin when spending extended periods in the sun.


The AAD say it is important to strike the right balance between having too much oil on the skin and maintaining the skin’s natural moisture.

It offers the following tips for controlling oily skin:

  • wash the face every morning, evening, and after exercise
  • avoid scrubbing, which will irritate the skin and can make it look worse
  • use skincare products, such as cleansers, moisturizers, and make-up, labeled “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic,” which are less likely to clog pores
  • moisturize every day to keep the skin hydrated
  • opt for a gentle, foaming face wash, as harsh products dry out the skin prompting it to produce more oil
  • avoid oil- or alcohol-based cleansers as these can irritate the skin


In extremely rare cases, some people can develop sebaceous gland carcinoma.

This rare type of cancer can occur anywhere on the body, including the head, neck, trunk, or genitals but tends to appear on the upper eyelid or around the eye.

The carcinomas look like firm, yellowish lumps, and they do not hurt. The condition is more common in older people and those who have had previous radiotherapy on the face.

Doctors will usually use surgery to remove the lumps. People may also need radiotherapy.

When to see a doctor

If over-the-counter products and a good skin care routine are not giving satisfactory results, a person may wish to see a dermatologist.

Dermatologists can prescribe more powerful medications for reducing oil production, leading to fewer noticeable sebaceous filaments.


Unlike blackheads and whiteheads, sebaceous filaments do not block pores.

Sebaceous glands are oil-producing glands in the skin. This oil, called sebum, travels to the outer layer of skin, or the epidermis, through the hair follicles. Sebum keeps the skin moist and healthy.

The resulting hair-like cylinders of a yellowish substance are harmless, though many people do not like the way they look.

By controlling oily skin, people can prevent or reduce the occurrence of sebaceous glands.


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Tips for cleaning and unclogging nose pores

Pores are openings in the skin that contain hair follicles. Keeping pores clean prevents them from becoming clogged and promotes healthy skin.

Most areas of skin on the body contain pores, including the skin on the nose. Although the pores are usually small and difficult to notice, they can become clogged and appear larger. When this happens on the nose, the pores become more noticeable.

Pores can become clogged with excess oil, dead skin, or dirt, or they can appear more prominent as a result of too much sun exposure. Other factors that can influence pores becoming clogged include genetics and hormones.

In this article, we provide six tips for keeping pores clean and unclogged.

1. Cleanse daily

Cleansing the skin removes the oils, makeup products, and dirt that build up throughout the day. The removal of these substances reduces the chances of pores becoming clogged.

Using a gentle cleanser with warm water is usually enough to remove debris from the skin. It is important not to scrub too hard as this can damage the skin.

The American Academy of Dermatology (ADA) recommend choosing a noncomedogenic cleanser to minimize irritation. Noncomedogenic products are those that do not clog skin pores.

People with very oily skin may find a nightly salicylic acid cleanser beneficial.

2. Exfoliate

Dead skin cells can build up and clog pores on the nose, which can make them appear larger.

Exfoliating — either physically or chemically — can remove these dead skin cells.

Physical exfoliation products contain rough substances that remove dead skin cells with gentle scrubbing. Scrubbing too hard can damage the skin.

Chemical exfoliation products do not require scrubbing as they work by increasing skin cell turnover. However, they typically contain retinol or glycolic acid, which can cause skin irritation and sun sensitivity. Therefore, it is best to apply them at night.

People with dry skin on their face should limit their use of exfoliants to the nose.

The findings of a study in the journal Cutis suggest that tazarotene can reduce the size and appearance of pores. If other exfoliants are not working, a doctor may recommend this prescription medication.

3. Apply sunscreen regularly

Sun damage can make pores appear larger, and the nose is particularly vulnerable to sun damage. People can prevent pores on the nose from appearing larger by regularly applying sunscreen to the face.

The ADA recommend sticking to products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to protect pores.

The best defense against sun damage is to avoid directly exposing the skin to the sun, especially during the middle of the day when it is hottest. A person can do this by wearing a hat that protects their face or staying in the shade.

4. Consider professional treatments

Dermatologists can offer specialized treatments, such as microneedling, to minimize the appearance of large pores.

This treatment involves puncturing the skin with a series of tiny needles, using either a roller-type or a mechanically driven device. Microneedling causes small amounts of skin damage to trigger the production of collagen for skin healing. This new collagen can reduce the appearance of pores.

Some microneedling devices are available for home use. However, the ADA recommend avoiding these devices due to concerns about injury and infection. They also note that these at-home devices are less effective than professional treatments.

Laser treatments are another option. Lasers can reduce oil production and decrease the size of pores.

5. Avoid making pores more visible

The use of some products can make pores more noticeable. For example, makeup products can contain oil that clogs pores. People may notice an improvement if they replace these products with noncomedogenic options.

It is also important to remove any makeup before going to sleep. Wearing makeup for too long can cause pores to become clogged.

6. Avoid excessive treatment

Although exfoliation and skin care products can reduce the appearance of pores, using these products too regularly can prevent the pores from doing their job.

Pores are important for keeping the skin healthy.

For example, they produce oil that softens the skin and maintains its moisture level. Exfoliating or using products that dry out the skin can stimulate oil production in the pores and increase the risk of clogging again.

To avoid this, limit the use of exfoliating treatments to once or twice a week. People with very oily skin can stick to exfoliating every other day.

The skin may have become too dry if it flakes off, feels tight, or appears red. If these symptoms occur, it is best to apply an oil free moisturizer and avoid exfoliating treatments for a few days.


It is possible to reduce the appearance of pores on the nose with good skin care. Many different products are available to cleanse and exfoliate the skin. Professional treatments, such as microneedling, are another option in more severe cases.

It is important to avoid exfoliating excessively or using too many treatments to clean and unclog pores, both of which can damage the skin. People with dry and sensitive skin should take extra care when using these products.

If pores on the nose remain persistently clogged for a few months despite the use of proper skin care and exfoliation, it may be worth seeing a doctor to discuss medical treatments.


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