Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Sebaceous Hyperplasia is a discomforting glandular disorder that affects many individuals around the planet. Read and know all about this disease, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

What is Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

It is a common health condition involving the sebaceous glands, which release the oily lubricating substance known as “Sebum”. The condition causes inflammation of these glands, thereby giving rise to shiny, yellow bumps over the face.

Picture 1 – Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Sebaceous Hyperplasia and Sebaceous Adenoma

Multiple lesions of this nature, formed by enlargement of Sebaceous glands, are collectively known as Sebaceous Hyperplasia (SH). Single papules are known as “Sebaceous Adenoma”. SH eruptions primarily develop over the face, nose, cheeks, forehead, upper arms, chest and genitals. However, Sebaceous Adenoma (SA) lesions are also found over the scalp, back and belly other than the face and chest.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Incidence

The disease usually affects newborns as well as adults who are middle-aged or elderly. It reportedly occurs in around one percent of the healthy population constituting middle-aged or elderly people. The condition is common in ageing adults.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Symptoms

The condition is mainly characterized by the development of whitish, yellowish or pale yellowish lumps over the skin surface. These bumps are generally soft to touch and have a smooth surface, with a pressed down centre. Patients do not experience itching or any other discomforting sensations in the affected skin spots. However, the skin lumps may bleed or get irritated if shaved over or scratched.

The bumps commonly arise over the face, especially on the forehead, nose and cheeks. Occasionally, they may also develop on other areas, such as:

  • Mouth
  • Upper arms
  • Chest
  • Areola of the nipples
  • Foreskin
  • Scrotum
  • Shaft of penis
  • Vulva

However, these lesions are especially noticeable on the facial region. This is attributed to the higher concentration of sebaceous glands in the face. The papules are typically shaped like a cauliflower and range anywhere from 1-5 mm in size.

In rare cases, the bumps have been found to vary in arrangement, which include:

  • Giant form
  • Linear or Zosteriform
  • Diffused form
  • Familial form

In some cases, patients also suffer from dryness of the hairs. This results from a loss of lubrication due to low production of sebum.

This glandular disease also gives rise to problems like acne. However, acne occurring due to this disease is more of an unusually discolored composition and unlike the type of acne that is seen to affect adolescents and young adults. SH is often characterized by the development of acne over the skin surface.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Causes

The reason for understanding the causes of this disorder requires proper knowledge of Sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are secretors that situated within the skin and release an oily material known as “Sebum”. These glands are typically related with hair follicles but may also be found in hairless areas of the skin. Sebum lubricates the skin and protects it from getting dried out or irritated.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia is caused by a change in hormonal levels that indirectly affect the sebaceous glands. With increasing age, the level of hormones decreases and causes gradual death of the cells of the sebaceous glands. This causes to a relative growth in the amount of sebaceous cells present within the glands. This consequently leads to an enlargement of sebaceous glands which may grow up to 10 times larger than normal glands.

The changes in hormonal level, apart from ageing, may also occur due to a weakened immune system. Some other harmless causes of this condition are:

  • Sun exposure – This happens when there is an excessive growth of glands that are related with exposure to sunlight.
  • Pregnancy – Bumps characteristic of SH are often found to develop as a natural response to the maternal hormones originating during maternity in pregnant women. Generally, these go away naturally in a few weeks after childbirth.

In some people, the development of SH papules are supposed to be a direct result of a reduction in the level of the hormone androgen. Androgen is the male sex hormone that is manufactured in the testes. It is responsible for the development of typical male sexual features. Decrease in androgen levels is mainly a problem in older individuals.

Is Sebaceous Hyperplasia Contagious?

This is a non- contagious condition and does not get transmitted by touching. Healthy individuals do not get this disease from affected people. This is due to the fact that it is not caused by any infectious agent, such as bacteria or virus. SH is a result of inflammation of Sebaceous glands. It is a glandular disorder that is restricted to only particular individuals.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Diagnosis

This condition is mainly diagnosed by physical observation of the skin eruptions. Doctors also consider the medical history and lifestyle of the patient to make a proper diagnosis. In some cases, a skin biopsy may also be performed. It may be essential if doctors suspect the lesions as basal cell carcinoma. Laboratory studies are not deemed to be necessary.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Differential Diagnosis

The symptoms of this disease are similar to those arising due to many other conditions. Due to this reason, it is necessary to perform a differential diagnosis of this disorder and distinguish it from other syndromes like:

  • Calcinosis Cutis
  • Colloid Milium
  • Cowden Disease (Multiple Hamartoma Syndrome)
  • Molluscum Contagiosum
  • Muir-Torre Syndrome
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1
  • Milia
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Sebaceous Adenoma
  • Syringoma
  • Sebaceous Carcinoma
  • Trichilemmoma
  • Trichoepithelioma
  • Trichofolliculoma
  • Lichen Nitidus
  • Lipoid Proteinosis
  • Lupus Miliaris Disseminatus Faciei
  • Fibrous Papule of the Face
  • Follicular Infundibulum Tumor
  • Folliculoma
  • Granuloma Annulare
  • Xanthomas

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Treatment

This is a benign condition and complications from it are unheard of. The lesions arising from this disorder generally resolve automatically after some time. However, many patients tend to find these bumps cosmetically displeasing. In some cases, the lesions also tend to get infected or inflamed due to chronic irritation. For these reasons, treatment for this disease is often seen as necessary.

Treatment of Sebaceous Hyperplasia basically aims at partial or complete removal of the lesions arising due to the condition. This can be done by the use of:

Chemical Treatment

It involves methods that consist of usage of chemicals. Such techniques are:

  • Photodynamic therapy – It is performed with the aid of 5-aminolevulinic acid as also a visible spectrum of light.
  • Cryotherapy – It involves use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the papules. The frozen lesions naturally slough off after some time, exposing healed skin underneath.
  • Laser treatment – It involves use of pulsed dye laser along with argon and carbon dioxide. It is quite useful in removing skin lesions. However, it is very advanced and somewhat expensive. Naturally, it is not a general option for treatment.

Chemical treatments, though effective in removal of hickeys, carry a risk of altered skin pigmentation or scarring.

Surgical Treatment

SH hickeys can also be removed by surgical excision or shaving. Surgical removal only involves a minor operation and can be conducted in a doctor’s chamber or clinic.


Some of the commonly prescribed medications for this condition are:

  • Retinoids – It is the most common type of drug that is prescribed for removal of SH eruptions. These medicines help shrink the bumps by regulating growth of cells. The results are typically seen anywhere within two to six weeks. However, long-term use of these medications can make many patients experience dangerous or unpleasant side effects. Moreover, this is not a permanent treatment as the discomforting hickeys tend to come back within a month after stopping the medication.
  • Tretinoin – It is a gel or cream that can be applied to the affected areas of the body to promote faster recovery from the bumps. Tretinoin helps prevent further deterioration of the condition and also eliminate the lesions slowly. It is essential to use the medication daily, or as prescribed by doctor, to achieve a quick recovery.
  • Accutane – This is a very powerful drug that is effective in removing SH hickeys. Unfortunately, many patients suffer from a recurrence of this skin disease once they stop using this medication.
  • Oral isotretinoin – Isotretinoin has been found to be effective in temporarily reducing the size of oleaginous glands. Use of oral Isotretinoin for 2-6 weeks has been found to yield effective results.
  • Trichloroacetic acid treatment – Some patients also use Trichloroacetic acid facial peels to remove the lesions. Following TCA chemical peel treatment, lesions may reappear in the initial stages. However, it may go away with regular use.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Home Treatment

SH is more or less similar to acne. Naturally, many people have been reported to have got effective results while using natural acne remedies for treating this condition. These include:

Mint juice

Individuals with SH lesions could drop a small amount of fresh mint juice every night over the affected areas. Regular application of this juice can help resolve the hickeys much faster.

Turmeric paste

Add 3 tsp turmeric powder into a cup containing 2 tsp fresh mint juice. Form this into a paste and apply it over the affected spots for about half an hour every day. Wash this off with lukewarm water afterwards. This is a good home remedy that should be carried out as long as the lesions go away completely.

Oatmeal paste

Mix a small quantity of natural yogurt with a slightly greater quantity of fine oatmeal. Form this into a paste and apply it over the hickeys. Let it settle and dry for about half-an-hour. Afterwards, you may wash off the paste with lukewarm water and pat the region dry.

Cinnamon paste

Mix equal amounts of cinnamon powder and honey. Make a paste with this mixture and apply it over afflicted areas at night, before you go to bed. Use lukewarm water to clean the area and gently pat the region dry.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Management

Patients suffering from SH may use the following measures to effectively manage this condition.

Do not scratch

People with SH hickeys should never scratch or try to break open the lesions. Doing these may result in infection in these eruptions.

Use creams

Topical application of ointments and creams may be useful in improving the appearance of the skin. However, they may not be too effective in permanent removal of the hickeys.

Practice good hygiene

Patients should try to maintain good skin hygiene to prevent infection. People with extremely oily skin may consider taking frequent baths to remove excess oil from their skin surface. This will help avoid occurrence of SH eruptions on the skin.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Complications

Tumors or lesions of Sebaceous Hyperplasia (SH) are non-cancerous (benign) in nature. The hickeys are not known to be potentially malignant in nature. However, these may be related with non-melanoma skin cancer in transplantation patients. The hickeys may also recur unless they are completely removed. An SH bump can be treated with drugs and other medical techniques. However, it is often likely to resurface once the medication is discontinued.

Lesions of SH arising on arms, legs or other regions that are prone to trauma may be extremely susceptible to irritation or bleeding. Patients should take care not to cause injury to these hickeys in any way.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Prevention

It is not quite possible to prevent this condition. Hygienic activities, such as washing the face regularly can help remove excess dirt and oil from the facial skin surface and prevent development of the condition. Light therapy and Facial peels may also help in avoiding this condition.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Pictures

Here are some Sebaceous Hyperplasia images that will help you know this condition better. Check out these Sebaceous Hyperplasia photos and get an idea about the appearance of lesions arising as a result of SH.

Picture 2 – Sebaceous Hyperplasia Image

Picture 3 – Sebaceous Hyperplasia Photo

If you are noticing SH eruptions on your skin, consult a good dermatologist as soon as possible. Proper diagnosis and timely treatment can help you get rid of the disease faster and enjoy an unblemished physical appearance.

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