Who Gets Sebaceous Hyperplasia?
Sebaceous hyperplasia is a common, benign condition of sebaceous (oil) glands that typically appears in infants and adults of middle age or older. Sebaceous glands are found throughout the skin except on the palms and soles.
In infants, sebaceous hyperplasia is also known as infant acne. It usually peaks at about 2 months of age and rarely requires treatment.
Sebaceous hyperplasia in adults generally first appears in the 50s or 60s. An excess of oil glands surrounds a hair follicle, causing a lesion. Lesions can be single or appear in groups and look like yellowish, soft, small bumps on the face (particularly on the nose, cheeks, and forehead). They are usually 1 to 3 mm in size with a central pore, which may express oil if the lesion is squeezed.
In addition to appearing on the face, sebaceous hyperplasia occasionally also occurs on the chest; mouth; areola or vulva in women; and scrotum, foreskin, or shaft of the penis in men.
Although more commonly found in older people, sebaceous hyperplasia has been reported in younger patients, suggesting a genetic predisposition to the condition. In these cases, extensive sebaceous hyperplasia appears at puberty and tends to progress with age.
Prevalence of Sebaceous Hyperplasia
Sebaceous hyperplasia is reported to occur in approximately 1% of older adults in the US.
However, the prevalence of this condition has been reported to be as high as 10 to 16% in patients receiving long-term immunosuppression with cyclosporine A (for example, when a patient has had a transplanted organ).
What Causes Sebaceous Hyperplasia?
Sebaceous hyperplasia is believed to be caused by an age-related decrease in the levels of androgen (a hormone present in both men and women). Sun exposure and immunosuppression may also be cofactors in causing sebaceous hyperplasia.
Can Sebaceous Hyperplasia Be Treated?
Like acne, sebaceous hyperplasia cannot be cured, only controlled. If you are concerned about this condition for cosmetic reasons, your Water’s Edge dermatologist may recommend a chemical peel or laser or light therapy like laser skin resurfacing or IPL photorejuvenation. He or she may also prescribe a topical retinoid to help reduce the appearance of the lesions.
When to See a Dermatologist
Sebaceous hyperplasia is harmless, although lesions may become red and irritated and bleed after scratching, shaving, or other trauma.
Because sebaceous hyperplasia can resemble a form of basal cell carcinoma, it’s best to see a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis. The yellowish color, central pore, and relative softness help distinguish sebaceous hyperplasia. Lesions of this condition do not become cancerous.
Your Water’s Edge Dermatology practitioner may use dermoscopy, a noninvasive tool, to aid in the clinical diagnosis and in distinguishing between nodular basal cell carcinoma and sebaceous hyperplasia, reducing unnecessary surgery. Occasionally, a biopsy may be performed to exclude basal cell carcinoma.
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