Fordyce Spots – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Fordyce Spots – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Fordyce spots are small white, yellowish, or skin-colored spots or bumps that can appear on the lips, penis, scrotum and vulva. These small spots, which appear just under the skin, are completely harmless and they are not contagious. However, having a lot of Fordyce spots around the lips or genitals can make a person feel very self-conscious. Because of that, many people look for ways to get rid of Fordyce spots.

Fordyce spots are also called Fordyce granules or sebaceous prominence and they are named after an American dermatologist, John Addison Fordyce, who was the first to describe them in medical literature.

Fordyce spots can range in size from 1 mm to 3 mm and they can be just a single spot or be in large groups or clusters of spots. Usually, you can see the spots or granules better when you stretch the skin.

Causes and Symptoms of Fordyce Spots

It is not known what causes Fordyce spots to appear but it’s estimated that around 90% of all adults have these harmless spots and they are common in both males and females. Dr. Angelica Giron says that they may already be present at birth and only become more visible after puberty.1

Fordyce spots are similar to sebaceous glands only without the hair follicles. Sebaceous glands are found in most areas of the skin and produce sebum, an oily substance to keep the skin moist and waterproof. Dermatologist, Dr. Amanda Oakley says that sebaceous glands are called Fordyce spots when found on the lips and genitals and Tyson glands when found on the foreskin.2

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the symptoms of Fordyce spots on the lips are usually granules that appear along the border of the lip, but they can also appear in the lip itself and inside the cheeks.2

On the genitals, the small bumps can appear on the shaft of the penis or scrotum and in women, on the labia. Usually, there are no other symptoms of Fordyce spots, other than that sometimes the spots can be itchy.3

Although Fordyce spots aren’t infectious and can’t be transmitted to other people, it’s important not to mistake white spots on the lips or genitals for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) like herpes or genital warts. Dr. Amanda Oakley says that a proper diagnosis is essential because, in their initial stage, certain STDs can look like Fordyce spots.

People with high levels of lipids in the blood, including cholesterol and triglycerides tend to have the highest number of Fordyce spots. A study published in the Dental Research Journal found that patients with high levels of fat in the blood had a higher number of Fordyce spots than people whose blood fat levels were normal.4 This could be because studies also show that too much fat and carbohydrates in the diet increase sebum output in the body.5

However, Dr. Angelica Giron says that Fordyce spots aren’t caused by poor hygiene or disease, and they are not harmful to human health.1

Clusters of Fordyce spots on the lips and genitals can cause stress and anxiety in people because others can mistake them for a sign of a sexually transmitted disease. Therefore many people want to know how to remove Fordyce spots quickly.

Fordyce Spots – Treatments

Generally, doctors don’t recommend removing Fordyce spots and they don’t recommend treatment for the spots.2 Also, you shouldn’t try to get rid of Fordyce spots by picking or squeezing them because this can cause the spots to become infected and leave the skin irritated. With some people, the spots may go away without any treatment at all.

Natural Remedies for Fordyce Spots

Many websites promote various home remedies for getting rid of Fordyce spots. However, I couldn’t find any kind of evidence that can support these natural treatments for Fordyce spots removal.

Some of the natural Fordyce spots cures that are mentioned in other sites are coconut oil, jojoba oil, oatmeal, aloe vera, turmeric and apple cider vinegar. I’ve already discussed these natural ingredients in great detail in previous articles, and there are many studies showing that they are very effective in treating various skin conditions. However, I couldn’t find any type of reference (including anecdotal reference) that supports their use for Fordyce spots removal.

Look After your Body

One of the best ways to help reduce the appearance of Fordyce spots is to look after your body. Dermatologist, Dr. Angelica Giron recommends eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet and to take good care of your skin. This will cause the body to produce less sebum and you may notice that Fordyce spots become less noticeable. You should also maintain good oral and physical hygiene.1

Other Treatments for Fordyce Spots Removal

If you are concerned about clusters of Fordyce spots affecting your appearance, there are various treatments for Fordyce spots that dermatologists can use. However, you should weigh up the pros and cons of each treatment, remembering that Fordyce spots are a harmless condition.

Here are some of the treatments for Fordyce spots:

Micro-punch techniques have been used to surgically remove Fordyce spots on the penis. This was necessary for patients where the Fordyce spots were causing discomfort during sex and itching. In one study, doctors reported that there was no recurrence of the spots.6

CO2 laser treatment for Fordyce spots can be used to remove these spots on the lips. This laser treatment works by destroying the tissue in the spot, causing them to become less noticeable. Doctors, who have used CO2 laser treatment to get rid of Fordyce spots, say that it is an effective treatment method with no side effects.7

Pulsed dye lasers are another cosmetic procedure which is effective in getting rid of Fordyce spots. It works by concentrating a beam of light on the spots to destroy the blood supply and oxygen to the sebaceous glands. This causes the spots to disappear. Dermatologists who use this treatment say that there are no side effects and it completely gets rid of the Fordyce spots.8

Read these related articles:
1. White Spots on Skin – Causes and Possible Treatments
2. White Bumps on Lips: Causes and Treatments
3. Bumps on lips: Causes and Top Natural Treatments
4. The Top 10 Home Remedies for Sunburned Lips


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