Sebaceous hyperplasia

Author: Reviewed and updated by Dr Amanda Oakley Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand; Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer; and Clare Morrison Copy Editor, June 2014.

What is sebaceous hyperplasia?

Sebaceous hyperplasia is the term used for enlarged sebaceous glands seen on the forehead or cheeks of the middle-aged and elderly. Sebaceous hyperplasia appears as small yellow bumps up to 3 mm in diameter. Close inspection reveals a central hair follicle surrounded by yellowish lobules. There are often prominent blood vessels, best seen using dermoscopy.

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a form of benign hair follicle tumour. The lesions are sometimes confused with basal cell carcinoma.

Sebaceous hyperplasia may be more prevalent in immunosuppressed patients: for example, in a patient following organ transplantation. It is also frequently prominent in the rare Torre-Muir syndrome.

More images of sebaceous hyperplasia ...

What is the treatment for sebaceous hyperplasia?

Sebaceous hyperplasia is harmless and does not require any treatment. However, for cosmetic reasons or if they are bothersome if irritated, individual lesions may be removed by light electrocautery or laser vaporisation.

When the lesions are severe, extensive or disfiguring, oral isotretinoin is effective in clearing lesions but these may recur when treatment is stopped. In females, antiandrogens may help improve the appearance.

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