What is Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

Small, yellowish or white greasy bumps often found on the forehead and cheeks of middle aged or older patients are called sebaceous hyperplasia. Though they are often mistaken for pimples and cannot be popped. Sebaceous hyperplasia is caused by enlarged oil glands on the face. Each bump usually has a tiny indent in the middle, and may also have small blood vessels on top. They are not a health concern, but some patients seek treatment to correct their appearance. Because of their small, pearly yellow bumps, sebaceous hyperplasia can sometimes be misdiagnosed as basal cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer), so it’s best to consult with your dermatologist.

Treatment

It is not always necessary to remove sebaceous hyperplasia, but several treatment options are available:

  • Topical retinoids: Retinoids, derived from Vitamin A, come in a cream form that may be applied daily to help. They help by shrinking glands in the skin and may decrease oiliness. Retinoids are not a permanent fix and it may take quite a long time to see results.
  • Electrosurgery: Electrosurgery involves a small electric needle that removes the oil found inside the gland. This treatment is initially very effective, but can be traumatic to the skin.  
  • Laser therapy: Certain lasers may also be used to “melt” away the enlarged oil gland.
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane): Isotretinoin is an oral vitamin A derivative. Unfortunately, it has a number of possible risk factors, and once the medication is stopped, the spot typically returns.

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