Treatment of sebaceous gland hyperplasia: a review of the literature

J Dermatolog Treat. 2021 Dec;32(8):866-877. doi: 10.1080/09546634.2020.1720582. Epub 2020 Apr 13.


Background: Sebaceous gland hyperplasia (SGH) is a benign cutaneous proliferation of the sebaceous glands that primarily affects the elderly group and frequently appears in individuals receiving long-term ciclosporin therapy such as organ transplant recipients. In the latter group, SGHs are usually multiple in number and occur predominantly on the face. Patients may find their appearance cosmetically undesirable and, in some cases, may result in significant negative psychological impact. There is, therefore, a demand for safe and effective treatment for SGH particularly in this patient group. A variety of treatment modalities have been previously described including electrodessication,surgery, cryotherapy, oral isotretinoin, lasers, and topical photodynamic therapy (PDT).

Methods: The objective of this paper is to review the various treatment modalities for SGH. We performed a systematic literature review using the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Database, whereby we included articles that met the following criteria: published in English, not focused on SGH in rhinophyma, studies with adult sample with SGH lesions, and studies with patients with SGH related to ciclosporin.

Results: Our findings show that the literature is categorized according to the treatment modalities ranging from conventional techniques such as oral isotretinoin and cryotherapy to more advanced topical PDT, lasers and a combination of both. We found that effectiveness does not depend on the technique itself but instead on the number of lesions, financial cost, psychological factors, skin phototype and age.

Conclusions: Our work shows that SGH can be treated effectively by customizing the treatment modality according to different parameters, while effectively maintaining clearance of SGH lesions with best cosmetic outcome.

Keywords: Sebaceous gland hyperplasia; ciclosporin; lasers; organ transplant recipients; photodynamic therapy; treatment.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Isotretinoin / therapeutic use
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Sebaceous Gland Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Sebaceous Gland Diseases* / pathology
  • Sebaceous Glands
  • United States


  • Isotretinoin