Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Are you wondering what the shiny bumps that are all over your face? Are they painless? There’s a good chance they could be sebaceous hyperplasia. While these bumps are completely harmless and fairly common, they can be annoying to deal with. But you don’t have to keep suffering from these embarrassing spots, we can help.

Keep reading to find out how these bumps form and what the sebaceous hyperplasia treatment options are for your skin at Winston-Salem Dermatology.

What Exactly is Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

Before we start talking about how to get rid of sebaceous hyperplasia, let’s first figure out what it is.

You have sebaceous glands attached to hair follicles all over your body. The glands are so small, you’ll have to use a microscope to see them, but they are there, and their main function is to release sebum onto your skin to keep it flexible and hydrated. But what exactly is this sebum that is all over your skin? It is actually a greasy layer that is made from a mixture of fats and cell debris.

Sometimes these tiny sebaceous glands can get enlarged with trapped sebum. When this happens, shiny bumps will appear on your face, especially on the forehead and nose. These small bumps are painless and look yellowish or flesh-colored. Sometimes these bumps are mistaken for a type of cancer called basal cell carcinoma. So, your dermatologist may need to do a biopsy of the bump to confirm whether you have sebaceous hyperplasia or basal cell carcinoma.

Causes for Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Every pore that you have has an oil gland, and for some reason, a gland will start growing sebaceous hyperplasia papules when they are clogged with sebum. And you want to hear something strange? We don’t know exactly what causes this to happen to someone’s otherwise normal oil gland.

While there isn’t an exact cause, there are some common features in people that have sebaceous hyperplasia. For example, this condition is most common in middle-aged or older people. Also, people that have fair skin and/or rosacea are more likely to develop these bumps. There’s also likely a genetic component because it seems that sebaceous hyperplasia often happens to people with a family history of it.

Medications can also be a cause of sebaceous hyperplasia. Doctors have found that people who take the immunosuppressant medication cyclosporine (Sandimmune) are more likely to develop this condition.

How Do You Prevent Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

The bad news – you really can’t stop sebaceous hyperplasia from appearing on your skin. That’s because there isn’t anything that has been scientifically proven to stop the process from happening in your oil glands. As we mentioned earlier, the bumps are seen more often in people that have rosacea. So, you can treat your rosacea with the right skincare products, diet, and procedures in hopes of reducing your skin’s chances for sebaceous hyperplasia. Your dermatologist can help you determine the best way to treat your rosacea.

There are some other options to help prevent these bumps from occurring. One thing that doctors recommend is to wash your face with a cleanser that has salicylic acid in it or low levels of retinol. These products are believed to help prevent your glands from clogging with sebum.

Another suggestion is to protect your skin from the sun because there have been some cases where sebaceous hyperplasia is linked to sun exposure. So, stay out of the sun as much as possible and when you’re in it, make sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and wear sun-protective clothing like a hat.

How Do You Get Rid of Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

While sebaceous hyperplasia may be bothersome for you to look at, the condition doesn’t require treatment. But, if the bumps irritate you enough that you want to get them removed, there are some procedures or over-the-counter options that can help out.

One thing you can’t do for sebaceous hyperplasia removal is to pop or squeeze the bump. There’s not anything inside the bump that you can extract, so squeezing won’t get rid of them. Instead, you may inflame the bump or cause it to bleed.

Here are some options you can use to have the glands removed or help control the sebum buildup:


This is a routine surgical procedure where a doctor uses electricity to heat the tissue. The electric charge will heat and vaporize the bump. A scab will form over the bump, which will eventually fall off and reveal smoother skin. Keep in mind, this procedure could cause some discoloration to the area that was treated.

Laser therapy

Your dermatologist can use a laser to smooth the top layer of your skin and release sebum that is trapped.


This process often involves liquid nitrogen, but it can also involve carbon dioxide and argon. During the procedure, your dermatologist will use the chemicals to freeze the bumps, causing them to fall off the skin. This is another procedure that can also cause discoloration.


This is a form of vitamin A that is applied to the skin to help reduce or prevent your sebaceous glands from clogging. You can get retinol over the counter, but it is usually a lower concentration. Your dermatologist can give you a prescription that can treat severe or extensive cases. A couple of things to know about using retinol – you have to use it for about two weeks in a row in order to see results and if you stop treatment, the bumps will return in about a month.


These medications are considered a last resort treatment, but for women only. That’s because these prescription medications lower testosterone. High levels of testosterone are believed to be a possible cause of sebaceous hyperplasia in some cases. So, that’s why these prescriptions are considered a last resort and aren’t used for men.

Warm Compress

While this isn’t a permanent fix, it can make your bumps smaller and less noticeable. So, apply a warm compress or washcloth soaked in warm water to your bumps to help dissolve the buildup.

It’s important to know that in order to completely get rid of sebaceous hyperplasia, the affected glands need to be removed. So, you may have to be treated more than once to fully get the glands removed.

Treat Sebaceous Hyperplasia at Winston-Salem Dermatology

We get it – having a sebaceous hyperplasia nose, on the forehead, and on other areas of your face can be annoying and embarrassing to deal with. That’s why we offer solutions to help you treat these bumps and help you see smoother skin again. We are the Triad’s preferred dermatology and cosmetic enhancement team because we truly care about your skin. Give us a call today at (336) 774-8636, and let’s talk about your sebaceous hyperplasia removal and treatment. Our skincare experts are ready to help you get the best skin of your life!