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.

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.

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:

It’s tempting to squeeze your pores. While it may get rid of the darker dots short term, it can also:

  • damage skin tissue
  • enlarge the pores
  • lead to infection
  • spread bacteria to other pores

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) advises against touching, picking, or popping any type of clogged pore or acne.

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.

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.