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Causes of Syringoma

A syringoma is a benign, or non-cancerous, growth caused by overactive sweat glands. Syringomas usually develop on the neck, upper cheeks, and the lower region of the eyes, but occasionally they grow on the abdomen, armpit, scalp, bellybutton, and genitals.

In most cases, syringomas are harmless and do not cause symptoms. Rarely, however, some individuals with syringomas experience extreme pain and itchiness, especially when sweating.

Causes of Syringomas

The name “syringoma” is derived from syrinx, the Greek word for tube or pipe.

Syringomas are benign tumors of the sweat ducts (eccrine glands). These tumors lie in the mid to deep (dermal) layers of the skin.

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:

The name “syringoma” is derived from syrinx, the Greek word for tube or pipe.

Syringomas are benign tumors of the sweat ducts (eccrine glands). These tumors lie in the mid to deep (dermal) layers of the skin.

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:

The most common locations for syringomas:

  • Upper cheeks
  • Lower eyelids
  • Armpits
  • Chest
  • Abdomen
  • Forehead
  • Genitalia (penis or vulva)

Fast facts on syringomas:

  • Syringomas mostly develop in early adulthood, between the ages of 25 and 30.
  • Syringomas are linked to several different medical conditions, including diabetes
  • Though rare, some people have a genetic predisposition towards developing them.
  • Once syringomas have been diagnosed, there is usually no reason to treat them.

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.

A syringoma is a skin-colored or yellowish firm rounded bump. It is well-defined and sized one to three millimeters in diameter. Syringomas usually first appear at puberty, but additional lesions can develop later. They do not itch or cause pain.

The condition usually appears as a crop of multiple lesions typically around the eyelid. They can also appear on the forehead, upper cheeks, armpits, chest, lower abdomen or genitalia. The clusters normally distribute on both sides of the body in a symmetrical fashion.

The abrupt occurrence of syringoma in a group on the chest and abdomen is called eruptive syringoma. Clinically, it may be mistaken for acne vulgaris, sebaceous hyperplasia, milia, lichen planus and granuloma annulare on the trunk.

Who’s at risk?

Syringomas can occur at any age, though they usually occur after puberty. Syringomas can develop in people of any race and of either gender, though females are more commonly affected.

Syringomas sometimes run in families. Up to 18% of people with Down syndrome have syringomas. People with diabetes mellitus are more likely to have a type known as clear cell syringomas.
A less common condition, eruptive syringomas, is more commonly seen in people with darker skin.

What do syringomas look like?

Syringomas are multiple skin-coloured small lumps measuring 1 to 3 mm in diameter. In people with skin of colour (pigmented or dark skin), they may appear as yellowish or pale bumps. Syringomas are more common in women and most frequently appear during or after adolescence. The most common location is around the eye area. In eruptive forms of syringoma the trunk, chest and abdominal areas are involved.

  • 1. Yellow
  • 2. Brown
  • 3. Pale pink
  • 4. Skin-toned

Usually, syringomas develop over time, but some people, especially younger individuals, may experience sudden, or eruptive syringomas. Eruptive syringomas often cause intense itchiness as well as redness and pain.

The majority of syringomas are not associated with symptoms. Some people may experience itching with sweating.

What other problems can occur with syringoma?

The majority of syringomas are spontaneous. Inherited (genetic) factors play a role in some cases. Inherited syringomas usually occur in pre-adolescence. Eruptive syringomas have been reported in Down syndrome. Syringomas have also been associated with other rare genetic conditions such as Brooke-Spiegler syndrome.

Syringomas are often mistaken for other skin conditions. Conditions with symptoms similar to syringomas include:

  • milia
  • lichen planus
  • xanthoma
  • sebaceous hyperplasia
  • acne vulgaris
  • flat warts
  • basal cell skin cancer

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