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Medical Dermatology

Sebaceous Hyperplasia

The skin contains tiny glands called sebaceous glands that secrete oil (sebum) to lubricate the skin. These glands are all over the skin except on the palms of the hands and bottom of the feet.

What is sebaceous hyperplasia?

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a localized, benign condition that refers to the abnormal enlargement of the sebaceous glands on the face, which become clogged with sebum and create small benign bumps on the skin. These bumps are often confused with acne and can be confused with basal cell carcinoma. They are harmless and do not require treatment but can become cosmetically unacceptable.

What are the symptoms?

There are no symptoms, except the bumps which are soft or hard with a white or yellow surface and an indentation in the center (the sebaceous gland duct). They often come in clusters on the forehead and middle of the face, but they can appear anywhere there are sebaceous glands.

What causes sebaceous hyperplasia?

The cause of sebaceous hyperplasia is unknown. They are more commonly seen in middle-aged or elderly patients. Organ transplant patients taking cyclosporine are also at risk. Additionally, some rare disorders can cause sebaceous hyperplasia.

How is it diagnosed?

Sebaceous hyperplasia lesions can be diagnosed by appearance and should be distinguished from other pathological conditions. A dermatoscope, which is a magnifying light source, may be used by your dermatologist to visual specific details of the lesion to make a diagnosis. If the diagnosis is uncertain, a biopsy may be considered.

What are the treatment options?

Sebaceous hyperplasia do not go away on their own. Treatment can be considered if cosmetically bothersome. Sebaceous hyperplasia can be treated with topical or oral retinoids to shrink the oil glands. Alternatively, they can be removed in the office with a simple electrocautery procedure.

When you have questionable skin lesions that do not resolve on their own, contact Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group to schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.

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