Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a common condition that often presents with small pink to yellow bumps on the face. These bumps are enlarged oil glands called sebaceous glands.

Understanding Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Sebaceous glands are oil-producing glands that appear throughout the body on the face, scalp, chest and back. During puberty, the glands begin producing sebum, an oily substance that provides lubrication for the hair and skin.

When a sebaceous gland becomes clogged, it can cause whiteheads or blackheads to develop. But when the gland itself is enlarged, it is called sebaceous hyperplasia. The condition is harmless but produces unwanted growths, commonly on the face.

Causes of Sebaceous Hyperplasia

The precise cause of sebaceous hyperplasia is not known, but hormones are suspected to play a role. The condition is more common in middle aged and older individuals and may run in families.

Symptoms of Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Sebaceous hyperplasia typically develops on the face. They present as small pink to yellow raised bumps that resemble a pimple or whitehead, but they cannot be popped. Often, the lesion may be segmented with a small indention in the center.

The condition is sometimes mistaken for acne, but the growths are typically permanent and do not respond to acne treatment. Some individuals with sebaceous hyperplasia have only one or two lesions, while others have multiple growths on their forehead, cheeks, nose and other areas of the body.

Treatment of Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Since sebaceous hyperplasia is not harmful, treatment is not required. However, the condition can have unwanted cosmetic consequences.

Cosmetic treatment options for sebaceous hyperplasia include:

  • Electrocautery:  Most common form of treatment, in which an electrical cautery needle is used to burn the lesions
  • Cryotherapy:  Freezing the growths with liquid nitrogen
  • Topical chemicals: Certain chemicals may be applied to the skin to help dissolve the lesions
  • Laser therapy:  Destroying the lesions with an argon, carbon dioxide or pulsed-dye laser
  • Surgical excision:  Large lesions may be surgically removed or scraped off

Your dermatologist may recommend treatment for multiple lesions, growths that persist longer than one month, or lesions that are bleeding or growing. Sometimes, a lesion may be biopsied to rule out other conditions.

If you have any concerns about unusual or unwanted growths on your skin, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists.

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