Bumps on Your Face that Aren’t Acne Could Be Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Even if you’ve never heard of sebaceous hyperplasia, you’ve probably seen it before. What is it? When excess oil gets trapped in the oil glands, it can lead to shiny, small bumps on the skin (known as sebaceous hyperplasia). These bumps are harmless, but don’t worry: if you desire treatment, our dermatologists can help.

What is Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a harmless skin condition that most often affects the face. It starts with the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing sebum (an oily substance that helps keep your skin moisturized). When these glands become enlarged, excess oil can become trapped beneath the surface of the skin. This can lead to the formation of small, shiny bumps on your cheeks and forehead.

How is Sebaceous Hyperplasia Different from Acne?

Although they both have to do with oil buildup, sebaceous hyperplasia and acne are different skin conditions. With acne, skin follicles become blocked and oil builds up beneath the skin. With sebaceous hyperplasia, oil buildup occurs in the sebaceous glands themselves. Acne lesions will usually have a whitehead or blackhead with a raised center, while sebaceous hyperplasia bumps are usually flesh colored or slightly yellow, flatter, and indented in the center. Acne may also be painful, while there is usually no pain associated with sebaceous hyperplasia.

Am I at Risk of Getting Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. Current scientific understanding is that there is a likely connection between sebaceous hyperplasia and changes in hormone levels. People who are more likely to be affected include those who identify with the following:

  • Middle-aged and older
  • Male
  • Fair skin
  • Family history of sebaceous hyperplasia
  • Muir-Torre syndrome (a rare genetic disorder)
  • long-term use of cyclosporine (an immunosuppressant medication)

Can Sebaceous Hyperplasia Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, sebaceous hyperplasia cannot be prevented, even by limiting sun exposure and adopting good skin care practices (although these are always recommended for overall skin health!). The good news is that sebaceous hyperplasia is not harmful and does not lead to skin cancer or any other concerning issues.

What Are My Treatment Options for Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

Sebaceous hyperplasia does not typically require treatment. However, if you have several sebaceous hyperplasia bumps on your face and you are bothered by their appearance, various treatment options can help restore a more even skin texture. These include:

  • Cryotherapy: freezing the sebaceous hyperplasia bumps with liquid nitrogen
  • Laser therapy: destroying the sebaceous hyperplasia bumps and smoothing out the skin with laser treatment
  • Electrocautery: cauterizing (destroying) the sebaceous hyperplasia bumps with an electric current
  • Topical retinoids: applying a prescription retinoid cream or gel to the sebaceous hyperplasia bumps to prevent the sebaceous glands from clogging
  • Photodynamic therapy: treating the skin with intense pulsed light (IPL) to smooth skin texture
  • Microdermabrasion: exfoliating the outer skin layers to produce smoother, more even skin tone
  • Corticosteroid injection: injecting a corticosteroid medication into the sebaceous hyperplasia bumps
  • Hormone treatments: addressing hormonal imbalances may control sebum buildup

If you are bothered by bumpy skin due to excess oil buildup, talk to your dermatologist about getting treatment for sebaceous hyperplasia.

To book an appointment with one of our Medovate dermatologists today, call 847.499.5500.