Sebaceous hyperplasia is a skin condition that occurs when the sebaceous glands in the skin become enlarged and grow above the surface. This condition mainly affects people as they approach middle age, but has also been observed in younger individuals. These growths appear as small yellow papules that measure 2-4mm is diameter, and typically appear on areas of the face such as the forehead, nose and cheeks. They often have a rough texture and are cauliflower shaped with a small indentation in the center. Sometimes the lesions may be confused with basal cell carcinoma. In the majority of cases, sebaceous hyperplasia will resolve on its own, without treatment. However, some people choose to have the lesions removed for cosmetic reasons or if the lesion becomes irritated and bothersome.

Common features of sebaceous hyperplasia include:

  • Small yellowish papules that measure 2-4mm is diameter
  • Papules are irregularly shaped with an indentation in the center
  • Are typically not painful, but can become bothersome if irritated

Although the exact cause of sebaceous hyperplasia is unknown, some factors that may promote its growth are sun exposure, immune deficiencies, aging and heredity.

Good skin care is essential for maintaining healthy, beautiful skin. Keep your skin clean and clear by using gentle cleansers and exfoliators. Use a daily moisturizer to keep your skin adequately hydrated. Protect your skin from the sun by using a sunscreen that offers protection against harmful UV rays.

Since sun exposure can promote the growth of lesions, it’s important to take precautions before spending time outdoors.

Limit sun exposure: Reducing your time in the sun is perhaps the easiest way to avoid damage to your skin caused by UV rays. When outdoors, set a time limit and seek shade when necessary. Also keep in mind that UV radiation is the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Use sunscreen: Sunscreens are an essential part of protection against the sun. Sunscreens labeled “Broad Spectrum” are often the most effective and offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Make sure to apply generously and frequently.

Cover and protect: Wrap-around sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and clothing that covers your arms and legs, can offer extra protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

A doctor may prescribe oral Isotretinoin to inhibit these lesions, but it is rarely done.

For severe cases of sebaceous hyperplasia, procedures such as surgical excision, electrocautery, cryotherapy or laser therapy are commonly used to remove lesions. However, lesions tend to recur if the entire unit is not removed.