What is the pathophysiology of sebaceous hyperplasia?

Updated: Oct 05, 2020
  • Author: David T Robles, MD, PhD, FAAD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

Sebaceous glands are found throughout the skin except on the palms and soles. They exist as a component of the pilosebaceous unit or, less frequently, open directly to the epithelial surface in areas of modified skin, including the lips and buccal mucosa (as Fordyce spots), glans penis or clitoris (as Tyson glands), areolae (as Montgomery glands), and eyelids (as meibomian glands). The largest and greatest numbers of sebaceous glands are found on the face, chest, back, and the upper outer arms.

These holocrine glands are composed of acini attached to a common excretory duct. The life cycle of a sebocyte, the cells that form the sebaceous gland, begins at the periphery of the gland in the highly mitotic basal cell layer. As sebocytes differentiate and mature, they accumulate increasing amounts of lipid and migrate toward the central excretory duct. The mature sebocytes complete their life cycle at the central duct and disintegrate, releasing their lipid contents as sebum. The turnover time from sebocyte production to disintegration is approximately 1 month.

Sebaceous glands are highly androgen sensitive, and, although the number of sebaceous glands remains approximately the same throughout life, their activity and size vary according to age and circulating hormone levels. Together, sebaceous and sweat glands account for the vast majority of androgen metabolism in the skin.


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