Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Sebaceous hyperplasia is typified by yellow bumps that appear on the face, particularly on the cheeks and forehead, due to enlarged sebaceous glands. This primarily affects older individuals and is one of the unpleasant effects of aging. The condition is also common among infants and those taking immunosuppressants. It is harmless and not associated to any form of cancer. However, it may bleed with irritation when shaved or scratched.

Treatment is not usually necessary. However, sebaceous hyperplasia can bring about embarrassment and have a huge impact on the person’s self-esteem. also, it may get infected if it is constantly irritated. Individuals suffering from the condition may choose to have the bumps removed partially or completely. Medications are likewise sometimes used to reduce the size of the bumps.

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Sebaceous Hyperplasia Causes

Sebaceous hyperplasia results when the sebaceous glands are enlarged. These glands are present all over the body especially on the face and scalp. These glands can also be found in some hairless parts of the body. They are connected to hair follicles and work in lubricating the hair and skin to prevent them from drying out by producing sebum.

Changes in hormonal levels affect the oil-producing gland in the body causing it to become enlarged. This could possibly be due to:

  • Ageing

Hormone levels naturally decrease with age causing the cells of the sebaceous glands to die slowly. This would eventually elevate the number of sebaceous cells within the gland causing it to become enlarged, up to 10 times bigger than its normal size.

  • Low levels of androgens

A decrease in androgen hormones, or the male hormone, had been found to directly cause sebaceous hyperplasia especially among older people. Around 1% of older individuals in the US are affected by this.

  • Pregnancy

Pregnancy hormones greatly affect the sebaceous gland, causing it to enlarge. However, the distinctive bumps will disappear naturally some time after childbirth.

  • Sun exposure

UV rays are believed to affect the sebaceous gland based on the occurrence of pale or yellowish bumps on areas constantly exposed to sunlight.

  • Immunosuppressants

Sebaceous hyperplasia is one of the adverse effects of immunosuppressant agents such as cyclosporin A. Immunosuppressants are given to organ transplant patients and 10% to 16% of them develop the distinctive bumps.

Appearance of Sebaceous hyperplasia

Sebaceous hyperplasia is constantly mistaken for pimples or acne but they are not. Among its distinct features are:

  • Pale yellow or whitish bumps
  • 1 to 5 mm in diameter
  • May appear in singles or groups
  • Soft and smooth surface
  • Slightly depressed center
  • Painless and does not itch

These bumps are noticeably visible in areas where sebum or oil production is abundant, such as the face, cheeks, forehead and nose. They sometimes develop in other parts of the body as well, like the mouth, eyelids, chest, neck, upper arms, back, areola of the nipples and genitals.

The condition is absolutely harmless and does not lead to any serious skin disorder or cancer. Moreover, it is not contagious due to the fact that there is no bacterial or viral infection involved. Even so, it could become irritated and bleed. It may not be serious and contagious but sebaceous hyperplasia can be visually unpleasant for some that they seek professional treatment.

The doctor can easily diagnose sebaceous hyperplasia based on its appearance. During the visit, he or she may conduct a lifestyle check and inquire about the patient’s medical history to help him or her make an accurate diagnosis. If the doctor deems that something is unusual about the bumps or suspects malignancy, a skin biopsy might be requested.

Treatment of sebaceous hyperplasia

Treating sebaceous hyperplasia is not usually required unless it becomes infected, painful or starts to bleed. Some people choose to have it treated for cosmetic reasons. There are actually plenty of treatment options to choose from.

  • Medications

There are medications that help in reducing the size of the bumps and make them less visible or noticeable. But prolonged use of these medications can have adverse effects on the person’s health. Among these prescription medications are Retiniods, Accutane, Tretinoin, Trichloroacetic Acid and oral isotretinoin.

  • Chemical treatments

Chemical treatments have been proven effective as well in treating sebaceous hyperplasia. Some of these methods used are cryotherapy or freezing, laser treatment, and photodynamic therapy. However, these procedures carry the risk of scarring or skin pigmentation.

  • Surgery

The bumps can be surgically removed. The procedure can be less invasive and could be done at the doctor’s clinic either through shaving or excision.

Home remedies for sebaceous hyperplasia also exist and have been proven effective.  Some of these include the use of cinnamon and oatmeal paste and mint juice. Those who are susceptible to the condition will also do better by observing good hygiene and not scratching the bumps so as not to cause infection.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Pictures


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