Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a common, benign condition of sebaceous glands in middle-aged to older adults. Lesions can be single or multiple and present as slightly white, flesh or yellow colored, soft, small papules on the face, particularly the nose, cheeks and forehead. Sebaceous hyperplasia occasionally also occurs on the chest, areola, mouth, and vulva. They often have a central indentation. A variant of this condition, known as Fordyce’s condition causes tiny yellow dots in groups and sometimes in sheets on the lips, inside the mouth, and sometimes on the genital skin. Lesions of sebaceous hyperplasia are benign, with no known potential for malignant transformation. Neither sebaceous hyperplasia or Fordyce’s condition is dangerous.

The cause is unknown and tends to run in families. While no treatment is necessary, they can be treated by:

  • Tretinoin cream or gel used daily will reverse the condition slowly overtime and also help keep the condition from worsening.
  • Accutane will reverse sebaceous hyperplasia, but new lesions will develop after stopping the medication unless you also use tretinoin cream regularly.
  • TCA chemical peels will also reverse sebaceous hyperplasia, but new lesions will occur slowly after treatment.
  • They can be destroyed with electrocautery or laser.

Sebaceous cysts tend to go away by themselves if left alone. If inflamed, your doctor may use antibiotics or a cortisone shot to deal with the infection/inflammation. Difficult or troublesome cysts may require surgery.

There are some natural things you can try to promote resolution, but since they may resolve on their own, it becomes harder to assess if the treatment helped or not.


Conditions that suggest Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  

Sebaceous hyperplasia

Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  

Absence of sebaceous hyperplasia

Risk factors for Sebaceous Hyperplasia



Chronic rosacea can be associated with sebaceous gland hyperplasia and lymphedema, causing disfigurement of the nose, forehead, eyelids, ears, and chin.

Recommendations for Sebaceous Hyperplasia


Castor Oil

Saturate a piece of white cotton or flannel with castor oil and apply to the surface of the cyst. Hold a hot water bag or similar heating pad on top of the castor oil compress for 1/2 hour to an hour at least once daily. The theory is that castor oil helps the lymphatic system to shrink the cyst. The hot water improves blood flow to the area also.



Sebaceous hyperplasia is harmless and does not require any treatment. However, individual lesions may be removed by light cautery, diathermy or laser vaporization.



Rubbing in SSKI mixed with DMSO (50/50 mixture) will typically assist these cysts to go away in a few weeks. The mechanism of action may be that iodine helps dissolve the fatty material in the cysts, allowing the body to slowly resorb the cyst contents.

Physical Medicine  

Hot Applications

Apply warm, wet washcloths to the lump for 20 to 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. If you prefer, you can also use a hot water bottle or heating pad over a damp towel. The heat and moisture can soothe the lump, increase blood circulation to the area, and speed healing. It can also bring a lump caused by infection to a head (but it may take 5 to 7 days). Be careful not to burn your skin. Do not use water that is warmer than bath water.


Weak or unproven link
Proven definite or direct link
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good
Highly recommended


Sebaceous Hyperplasia

A skin condition in which a person develops small, yellowish growths, usually on the face.


Literally: innocent; not malignant. Often used to refer to cells that are not cancerous.


Dangerous. mainly used to describe a cancerous growth -- when used this way, it means the growth is cancerous and predisposed to spreading.


A closed pocket or pouch of tissue; a cyst may form within any tissue in the body and can be filled with air, fluid, pus, or other material. Cysts within the lung generally are air filled, while cysts involving the lymph system or kidneys are fluid filled. Cysts under the skin are benign, extremely common, movable lumps. These may develop as a result of infection, clogging of sebaceous glands, developmental abnormalities or around foreign bodies.


Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

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