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Duration:02:41
Uploaded:2016-04-09
Last sync:2018-05-02 19:20
Do you just hate those little bumps all over your nose? Don’t be a hater, they’re just doing their job! Learn how in this SciShow Quick Question.

Hosted by: Hank Green
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Sources:
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/comedo
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072395/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1271924/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/130839
http://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/67820
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/20/blackheads-get-rid-of-removal-nose_n_2166779.html

Images:
Blackhead, whitehead, normal pore: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blausen_0811_SkinPores.png
Spots on Nose: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blackheads.JPG
sebaceous glands: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hair_follicle-en.svg
If you're tired of being made to feel bad about your skin, getting zit-shamed by commercials fro lotions or little strips that'll get rid of those "unsightly" spots on your nose, then I have some good news for you. Those ads often refer to those tiny little spots as blackheads, but that is not what they are. Those are just your normal hair follicles, doing what they're supposed to do.

Blackheads are a type of non-inflammatory acne, the type that doesn't make you skin really red and swollen. The medical name for blackheads is open comedones, a comedo just being a clogged pore. And your pores can get clogged because of overproduction by the oil glands in your skin called sebaceous glands. Sometimes, the mixture of natural skin oil, or sebum, along with dead skin cells and bacteria builds up and forms a thick plug in a pore, instead of secreted normally. 

And because blackheads are open comedones, all that gunk is being exposed to the air, instead of being covered by a layer of skin, like a whitehead. This mean that the sebum buildup, along with the pigment in all those dead skin cells, can be oxidized by air to form a dark, almost black, color. So if blackheads ore caused by buildup of oily debris, what's going on with those tiny little spots on your nose, that you should not be concerned about?

Those spots are different and totally normal features of your skin called sebaceous filaments. And these filaments are just collections of oil and dead skin that build up around tiny hair follicles. They tend to be more noticeable on your nose because your pores are bigger, and the glands in certain areas of your face tend to produce more sebum.

Unlike blackheads, which are clogged pores, these filaments are natural products of sebum production not an infection. These filaments might actually help your pores secrete sebum more freely. And, also unlike blackheads, they will keep coming back even if you try yo squeeze them out, because your sebaceous glands will keep on producing sebum. It's kind of their job. 

Your skin needs sebum to keep itself soft, lubricated and pretty much waterproof. Now, sebaceous filaments can develop into acne if your skin is not kept clean, or if you use products that can clog your pores. Doctors pretty much agree that the worst thing you can do is constantly squeeze blackheads or your sebaceous filaments out, which can cause inflammation, infection, and even scarring. So, just let your skin do its thing. 

Thank you for asking, and thank you especially to all of our patrons on Patreon who made it possible for us to hire our new staff writer Ceri Riley, who wrote this episode. Thank you very much Ceri! If you want to submit questions to be answered, or get episodes a few days before everybody else, you can go to Patreon.com/SciShow. And don't forget to go to YouTube.com/SciShow and subscribe.

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