Blackheads are big business. Products that promise to remove them, treatments that totally tackle them and mesmerizing videos that show people popping them (yes, it’s totally gross and, yes, we’re guilty of tuning in) are undeniably all the rage. But, as New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD, reveals, not are all blackheads are really blackheads at all.
“Some people think the black dots on their nose are clogged pores or blackheads,” she says. “They are, in fact, mostly fine hairs or sebaceous filaments, which is a combination of sebum and skin cells.”
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So now that all our skin care beliefs are shaken to the core, how can we tell what’s what? “They’re different from blackheads since those are formed from an obstruction of the follicular opening and are pathologic, while sebaceous filaments are more common and often normally found in the nose, as this is an area with more active sebaceous glands,” Dr. Day explains.
While Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD, does note that many people do have actual blackheads on the nose, she says that, regardless of which one ails you, the course of treatment for both is pretty similar. “They are both treated with light/medium exfoliation, extraction, use of sunblock and chemical peels.”