What Is Sebaceous Hyperplasia Treatment?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 15, 2021

‌Sebaceous hyperplasia is a skin condition that becomes more common with age. It’s caused when your sebaceous oil glands produce too much oil, which can be trapped under your skin and cause bumps. The good news is, there are many treatment options available for sebaceous hyperplasia.

Understanding Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a common and harmless skin condition caused by clogged hair follicles. In some cases, the clogged hair follicles may be because you have too many sebaceous glands, in other cases the glands may be overactive, producing more oil than your skin needs. Although the condition can impact you anywhere on your body, it is most common on facial skin.‌

Even though sebaceous hyperplasia is benign and doesn’t pose any health risks, it may be unsightly, so the appearance on your skin may be concerning. Sebaceous hyperplasia spots are usually two to five millimeters in diameter and may be flesh-colored or slightly yellow. If the spots last too long, they may have a similar appearance to basal cell carcinoma. If you’re concerned about the appearance of any spots on your skin, talk to your doctor or dermatologist.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia Treatment Options

If your doctor determines that a spot is sebaceous hyperplasia, removal isn’t necessary. However, if you do want the spots removed, you have several options including over-the-counter and at-home treatments. If you choose to pursue surgical removal, scarring is possible.

Retinol. If you want to try an over-the-counter treatment first, look for creams with retinol or vitamin A as an active ingredient. Retinol helps to prevent your pores from getting clogged with too much oil. If over-the-counter options aren’t strong enough, you may still be able to use a topical cream with prescription-grade concentrations by seeing a dermatologist. Prescription-grade creams have higher concentrations, which are usually more effective with stubborn cases. Either way, it may take several months before you begin to see results from a topical cream.

Warm compress. If buildup is trapped under your skin, a warm compress may help open your pores, allowing the oil to release. This at-home treatment won’t solve the problem completely, but may make the bumps smaller.‌

Photodynamic therapy. With this in-office treatment, your doctor will apply a solution to your skin. Sensitive areas like your face may require the solution to sit for one or two hours. Other areas may require the solution to sit overnight. Once the solution is applied, your doctor uses a special light to remove the spots.

Electrocauterization. Another in-office treatment is electrocauterization. Your doctor uses an electrically charged needle to heat and vaporize each individual bump. You’ll develop a scab following the treatment, but once the scab falls off, the spot should be gone. You may develop a faint scar from this type of treatment.

‌‌‌‌Laser therapy. Your doctor uses a laser to remove the top layer of skin, allowing the sebum oil to release and your skin to clear.

Cryotherapy. A special solution is used to freeze the spot. The spot will later dry and fall off, however there may be some discoloration following this procedure.

Risks of Sebaceous Hyperplasia Treatment

Any type of treatment poses health risks. It’s important to know the pros and cons of each individual treatment option, so you make an educated decision.

Infection. If the removal of your sebaceous hyperplasia spot requires burning or cutting of your skin, there is a risk for infection. Doctors use sterilized tools, but bacteria may enter the wound site following the procedure. Watch your spots for signs of infection like:

  • Pain around the spot
  • Pus or oozing liquid that persists
  • The wound smelling strongly
  • Inflammation, redness, and swelling
  • Having a fever‌
  • The wound’s appearance worsens instead of improving‌

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Infection is easy to treat if caught early but may lead to more significant scarring if it isn’t addressed.

Scarring. If the spots bother you because of their appearance, you may still want to leave them alone. Sebaceous hyperplasia may improve on its own over time. However, scarring as a result of treatment is permanent.

Show Sources


American Family Physician: “Diagnosing Common Benign Skin Tumors,” “Electrosurgery for the Skin.”

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: “Cryosurgery (Cryotherapy),” “Lasers,” “Photodynamic Therapy,” “Sebaceous Hyperplasia.”

Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia: “Sebaceous hyperplasia: systemic treatment with isotretinoin.”

‌Cleveland Clinic: “Cellulitis.”

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