Syringoma: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on May 01, 2024
6 min read

A syringoma happens when cells in your sweat glands grow too much. They produce a bump or bumps, which usually appear around your eyes or neck. The bumps are benign, which means they're harmless. 

The small yellow, pink, or brown bumps are typically found in groups. In darker skin tones, syringomas may appear more pale or yellowish. 

Syringomas less commonly show up in your armpits, stomach, or around your genitals. They can grow on your scalp, though that’s rare. 

The bumps may seem like they’re on the surface of your skin, but they’re in the middle to deeper layers of it.

Syringomas usually aren’t painful or itchy. You don’t have to treat them, but you can remove them if you don’t like the way they look. Just know that they often come back, so you may need ongoing treatment.

Nearly 20% of people with Down syndrome have syringomas. This skin condition is the most common in that population.

Women who are Japanese are affected by syringomas more than other groups, though other sources say all Asian people and those with darker skin are more prone to this skin condition. Syringomas are more common in Japanese women than in Japanese men.

The bumps can start at any age, though usually they emerge in adolescence.

The four kinds of syringoma are:

  • Localized
  • Familial
  • Associated with Down syndrome
  • Generalized or eruptive  

Localized syringoma
This is when the bumps show up on one area of your body. It’s the most common type of syringoma. This syringoma isn’t linked to any medical condition.  

Down syndrome syringoma
These bumps emerge from genetic changes related to the condition.

Generalized/eruptive syringoma
These bumps appear on different parts of your body. Younger people may be more likely to have this kind of syringoma.

Familial syringoma
An inherited form of syringoma that you get from your biological parents.

People more likely to get syringomas include those who are:

  • Female or assigned female at birth
  • Adolescents
  • Diagnosed with Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Brooke-Spiegler syndrome, or diabetes
  • Fair in skin tone
  • Between 40 and 60 years old
  • Japanese people assigned female at birth

When cells in your sweat glands grow too much, syringomas can develop.

A few other factors can trigger the overgrowth, such as:

  • Exercising
  • Stress
  • High temperatures
  • Another medical condition like hyperthyroidism
  • Genetic changes 
  • Anti-epileptic medications

If you have a syringoma, you may see:

  • A round, firm bump that’s 1 to 3 millimeters wide
  • Several bumps in the area that are about the same size, shape, and color
  • A yellowish or clear-colored bump that may be the same color as your skin

You may have symptoms like itching especially when you sweat, but most syringomas don’t come with other symptoms.

Syringomas develop anywhere you have sweat glands. The most common places for a syringoma to appear are around or under your eyes or on your eyelids. Syringomas can also pop up on your face, on your chest, in your armpits, and around your genitals. It’s rare to have syringoma on your scalp.

If you think you have syringoma, see a dermatologist or other doctor. They can most likely tell what it is just by looking at it. You may need a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy involves removing a tiny bit of the tissue so the doctor can see the cells under a microscope.

Syringoma vs. milia

Syringomas can look similar to milia, which is another skin condition where groups of bumps can grow. Milia are white bumps that are filled with the protein keratin and are most common in newborn babies, though they can affect people at any age. 

Syringoma vs. Fordyce spots

Fordyce spots can also show up as a bump on your skin like syringoma. They're caused when oil glands in your skin become too big.

If you have syringoma bumps on your skin, they’re harmless. You don’t need to treat it. 

But if you want to have syringomas removed, there are a few ways to do that. Doctors can apply heat or a laser to remove the bumps or reduce their appearance. They can also scrub dead skin cells off your skin or cut off syringomas. Some medications can lower the appearance of the bumps or remove them.

Syringoma removal

Electrosurgery, also known as diathermy or deep heating, uses an electric current to produce heat beneath your skin that removes the bumps.

Another syringoma removal option is excision, which involves cutting the syringoma off with a surgical knife. This method isn’t best for darker skin tones because it can cause long-lasting pigment changes.

Dermabrasion for syringoma

This method scrubs off the outer layers of your skin so new layers without bumps are revealed.  

Laser therapy for syringoma

In laser therapy, light beams are applied to the skin to reduce the appearance of a syringoma.

Medication for syringoma

Medicines for syringoma include pills or lotions that you apply to your skin. Drugs may include acitretin, isotretinoin, and trichloroacetic acid.

Other syringoma treatments

Don’t try to remove syringomas by yourself.

Cryotherapy is one treatment being used more recently, and there’s some evidence that botulinum toxin A can be effective alone or with laser treatment.

Syringoma treatment is usually successful, but the bumps often reappear, so you’ll need ongoing treatment. Be aware that scarring may occur if you undergo treatment.

Complications from treatment aren’t too common, but they can include scarring, changes in the color of the skin, and the syringoma coming back.

To lower your risk for syringomas, you can:

  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Regularly clean and scrub skin
  • Ask your health care provider about treatments for active sweat glands

You should contact your doctor if you want to make sure you have syringoma and not another skin condition. If you have any pain or widespread syringomas, you may want to get checked out.

You also may want to reach out to a doctor if you are considering syringoma treatment. If you have treated it already, contact your doctor if the area isn’t healing or is oozing, which could be a sign of an infection.

Syringoma bumps aren’t harmful, but you may want to have them removed. They often recur, so if you treat them once, you may have to do it in the future, too.

How do you remove syringomas?

There are a few ways to remove syringomas or reduce the appearance of the bumps. A few options include laser therapy, dermabrasion, surgery, and medications.

How do you keep syringomas from spreading?

Taking care of your skin is the best way to prevent the bumps from forming.

Can syringomas go away on their own?

There’s no cure for syringoma, but treatments may reduce the appearance of them or remove them at least temporarily.

How do you get rid of syringomas naturally?

Don’t try to remove syringomas on your own. Cleansing and gently scrubbing your skin may help lessen the appearance of the bumps.

How do you cover syringomas with makeup?

You can use makeup to cover the bumps, just remove the makeup at the end of the day so your pores don’t get clogged.