Syringomas are small benign tumors. They are usually found on your upper cheeks and lower eyelids. Though rare, they may also occur on your chest, abdomen, or genitals. These harmless growths result when the cells from your sweat glands are overactive. They usually begin to develop in young adulthood but can occur at any age.
Causes of syringomas
Syringomas can be caused by any activity that increases sweat gland productivity, which may lead to tumor growth. In addition, some conditions affect the sweat glands and may mean you’re more likely to develop syringomas. These include:
Signs and symptoms of syringomas
Syringomas usually appear as small bumps that grow between 1 and 3 millimeters. They are either yellowish or flesh-colored. They typically occur in symmetrical clusters on both sides of your face or body.
Eruptive syringomas are usually found on your chest or abdomen and appear as multiple lesions occurring at the same time.
Syringomas aren’t itchy or painful and are usually asymptomatic.
Treatment of syringoma
Syringomas aren’t harmful in any way, so there’s no medical need to treat them. However, some people choose to have syringomas treated or removed for cosmetic reasons.
There are two ways to treat syringoma: medication or surgery.
Small drops of trichloroacetic acid applied to syringomas makes them shrivel and fall off after a few days. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe isotretinoin (Sotret, Claravis) to take orally. There are also creams and ointments that can be purchased over the counter and used to improve the skin around the syringomas, which can help with their appearance. However, these methods aren’t considered to be as effective as surgery.
There are several different surgical approaches to treating syringomas.
This treatment is preferred by many doctors, because of all the procedures possible, this one has the lowest risk of scarring. Your doctor will use carbon dioxide or erbium to laser the syringoma.
In this treatment, an electrical charge is passed through an instrument similar to a needle to remove the tumors by burning them.
Electrodessication with curettage
This procedure is similar to electric cauterization, but the doctor will also scrape the growths after burning them.
This is more commonly referred to as freezing the tumors. Liquid nitrogen is the most often used chemical for this procedure.
This involves using abrasive substances to rub off the upper layer of your skin, including the tumors.
Syringomas may also be treated by cutting them out using surgical instruments such as knives, scissors, or scalpels. However, this procedure carries the greatest risk of scarring.
After syringoma removal
You should recover fairly quickly from any type of syringoma removal surgery. If your job doesn’t involve any strenuous activities, you can return to work right away. Otherwise, it’s advised that you return to work only after the area has completely healed. This minimizes the risk of infection during the recovery period, which could lead to further scarring.
It usually takes around a week to fully recover. You can consider yourself recovered once the scabs have fallen off by themselves. This should take a week, providing you don’t develop any infections. During the recovery period, you may experience some mild discomfort, which can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications.
When to talk to your doctor
You should always see your doctor as a precaution when you develop any new skin growth so that it can be diagnosed. If it turns out you have syringomas, you need take no further action unless you feel that the cosmetic effects of the condition are disturbing you. Syringoma itself doesn’t usually lead to medical complications, but surgical removal of syringoma can lead to scarring or infection.
If you’ve had your syringomas removed and you develop any signs of infection, see your doctor immediately.
Outlook for this condition
The outlook for individuals with syringoma is good, as the condition is medically harmless. If you choose to have your syringomas removed, the likelihood that they will reoccur is low if they’re completely removed. There is a risk of scarring or infection following removal, but this risk is minimal and only increases if you don’t follow the aftercare instructions provided to you by your doctor.