Fordyce spots: Causes, symptoms, treatments and home remedies

Fordyce spots are tiny, raised, pale, white, red or skin colored spots that are present in many individuals. These bumps are usually located on the genitalia and on the lips. They are asymptomatic, but itching or irritation occurs if people treat them improperly.

Both men and women can be affected by Fordyce spots. These spots are one to three millimeters in diameter and do not cause pain. These oil producing glands are seen on the moist tissues which line some organs as well as body cavities or mucosal surfaces. They are not linked with hair follicles.

Human skin

Human skin
Human skin | Source

Fordyce spots are named after the famous American dermatologist John Addison Fordyce (1858-1925); and are also known as Fordyce granules, Fordyce’s spots, Fordyce’s condition and sebaceous prominence.

John Addison was the first to describe them clinically in a medical journal of those times. He coined the terms Fordyce’s disease, Fox Fordyce disease, Brooke-Fordyce trichoepithelioma and Fordyce’s lesion.

Fordyce spots are in fact a type of ectopic sebaceous gland. Ectopic means in an abnormal location. Sebaceous means fatty or greasy. Gland is an organ or collection of cells that secrete.

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Endocrine glands secrete things like hormones inside the body. Exocrine glands secrete things like sweat or mucous. They secrete things outside the body. Skin gland that secretes oily matter into the hair follicles in order to lubricate is known as sebaceous gland.

Ectopic sebaceous gland is a sebaceous gland that is on the skin. It is not on the hair follicle. Even though Fordyce spots are abnormal, they are not considered as a disease. According to many expert dermatologists, these glands are of cosmetic concern only. They do not cause any harm to the body. They do not impact the health negatively at all.

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Summary

  • Fordyce spots are harmless.
  • Fordyce spots do not require any treatment. They disappear by themselves.
  • Garlic and vitamin rich diet are effective against Fordyce spots.
  • PDL treatment is very effective against Fordyce spots.

Of course people who have Fordyce spots will not be glad to have them as it impacts their appearance negatively. But otherwise they are absolutely harmless. They are natural on the human body.

Some people say that Fordyce spots spread from one person to another. It is not true. They are also not infectious. There are cases of people suspecting STD and cancer when were affected by Fordyce spots.

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Causes of Fordyce spots

Fordyce spots can affect anyone. They are caused by sebum which is the natural oil of the skin. This natural oil gets trapped in a sebaceous gland without hair. Usually sebaceous glands open into a hair follicle. Oil of these glands is secreted up the hair shaft. Since there is no hair in case of Fordyce spots, there is no way to discharge these oil secretions. This results in bumps.

Fordyce spots

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Symptoms of Fordyce spots

Fordyce spots are more visible on the shaft of the penis when the skin is stretched. Usually one can notice them only when there is an erection. They also appear on the skin of the scrotum.

Oral Fordyce spots are white or yellowish in color. They appear like rice granules they are most common along the line between the vermilion border and the oral mucosa of the upper lip or on the buccal mucosa (inside the cheeks) in the commissural region.

Fordyce spots may also appear on the mandibular retromolar pad and tonsillar areas. Their intensity varies with people. Some may have hundreds of granules. In most of the cases affected person has one or two.

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Treatments for Fordyce spots

Currently there is no standard treatment for these spots. Doctors do not recommend any treatment for Fordyce spots. However, it is possible to reduce the distinction of these spots, thanks to advancement in medical science. Fordyce spots can be completely got rid of.

Fordyce spots disappear without any treatment. Even though they are benign, they are of cosmetic concern. Many products are available in the market to treat these spots. However, it is advisable to consult your doctor before using any of them.

Skin structure

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Trichloroacetic Acid chemical peel is a popular treatment for Fordyce spots. It peels off the skin on the spots, thereby causing significant improvement in their appearance. However if you use this on the lips, it is important to keep them moisturized. Also when the treatment is stopped, spots may reoccur.

Another product which is found to be effective against Fordyce spots is Tretinoin gel or cream. It reduces the prominence of the spots substantially. It is more effective if used with an alpha hydroxyacid agent.

Cryosurgery is an option to treat Fordyce spots. This procedure involves destruction of bumps using cold temperature. However, this method can cause damage to tissues and nerves present in areas surrounding the spots.

PDL

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Pulsed dye lasers (PDL) are found to be effective against Fordyce spots. Even though they are relatively expensive, they leave fewer scars than other methods. This treatment is extremely safe and effective. It is used extensively in many parts of the world.

PDL uses a concentrated beam of light. The light is converted into heat. Tissues and nerves surrounding Fordyce spots are not damaged in this method of treatment. The laser uses yellow light, which is very safe. It does not cause long term skin damage.

A typical PDL treatment does not take more than few minutes. They are usually performed during an outpatient clinic visit. There is no need for anesthesia as the machine produces a cold spray just before the laser pulse. This diminishes the sensation of pain.

CO2 laser model

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Also known as CO2 laser, electro desiccation is used to make Fordyce spots less visible. CO2 lasers are the highest-power continuous wave lasers that are currently available. They are very efficient.

Micro-punch technique has provided satisfactory cosmetic and functional results. The chances of recurrence are less. This technique has been used in the past for treatment of various skin lesions.

Micro-punch technique is very easy to perform. Any clinician, with a little training can perform this procedure. This method of treatment is less expensive than other methods. It can be carried out under local anesthesia. However, the treatment time is more than that of other methods. It varies between half an hour and few hours.

Home remedies for Fordyce spots

Some home remedies are found to be effective against these spots. Garlic is one of them. Include them in your daily diet. People affected by Fordyce spots have found significant improvement after including garlic in their daily diet.

Garlic is very effective against Fordyce spots

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It is possible to prevent aggravation of Fordyce spots by adhering to good personal hygiene. Consume diet rich in vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K. Vitamin rich diet promotes quick resolution of Fordyce spots.

Red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, butternut squash, dried herbs lettuce, dried apricots and cantaloupe are rich in vitamin A. Fortified cereals, lentils, yogurt, whole wheat, legumes, potatoes, beans, spinach, fenugreek, asparagus, broccoli, avocado and green leafy vegetables are rich in B complex vitamins.

Broccoli

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Red hot chili peppers, green hot chili peppers, guava, bell peppers, fresh herbs, dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, papaya, kiwi fruits, oranges, tangerines and strawberry are high in vitamin C.

Sunlight, fortified cereals, fortified soy products and mushrooms are rich in vitamin D. Tofu, cooked spinach, nuts, sunflower seeds, avocado, plant oils, broccoli, squash and pumpkin contain vitamin E. Dried herbs, fresh herbs, dark leafy greens, spring onion, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, chili powder, curry, paprika, cayenne, asparagus, cabbage, pickled cucumber and prunes are rich in vitamin K.

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Fordyce spots are absolutely harmless. They are normal physiological occurrences. If you are affected by them, do not panic. They will vanish by themselves over a period of time. However, if the appear on lips or cheeks, they do affect your appearance. Just visit a dermatologist and follow his/her advice.

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15 comments

Daphne 2 years ago

Great information. I have Fordyce spots just inside the lips of my vagina from my clitoris to my anus. They don't go away; in fact I've gotten more as I've aged. I will definitely try the gel and peel. They always seemed to look and feel like pimples to me, so that makes total sense. Thanks!!


srirad0675 profile image

srirad0675 2 years ago Author

You are welcome!


daphne 2 years ago

Hello again. Just wanted to let anyone know who reads this that you can get the Tretinion crème from a Canadian pharmacy and, when topically applied, it does help reduce the size of the glands. You can also get Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) gel from anywhere online (Vitacost, Vitamin World, etc.) which seems to aid the Tretinoin when applied topically. I read about a German doctor using the "micro punch" method with good success and did a little research and discovered this thing called a micro needle roller (search it on Amazon and a zillion will come up). The rollers have teeny, tiny microscopic needles that, when manually rolled over the skin where the Fordyce spots are, open up the pores and glands and allow the topical medicine/cream/gel to work even better. It doesn't hurt and you shouldn't push hard or make yourself bleed, but it seems to help. Not sure if this is what the guy in Germany uses, but I thought I'd try it "down there". The spots/cysts turn white and seem to come to a head and just disintegrate (eventually) -- I've been able to lift a few off without digging or pinching. Bottom line: it takes a very long time to see results and you are probably not getting rid of the glands permanently, but just helping the sebum to open up and flow out so you won't have disfiguring cysts all over your private parts. I'll take it. Also, I'm very disappointed with the medical community for not taking this condition a little more seriously. Just because Fordyce spots are not life threatening doesn't mean they're not a BIG problem for many people who have them. There should be some widely available medical therapy for us. We shouldn't have to rely on anecdotal stories and advice from non-medical people (like myself) for information.


Flambeau 2 years ago

I agree with daphne


Person 2 years ago

So red spots on the lips aren't fordyce?


srirad0675 profile image

srirad0675 2 years ago Author

Fordyce spots may be red or white in color, but are painless.


marcus 2 years ago

I think i have some of these spots on my scrotum, but they itch. What does that mean?


srirad0675 profile image

srirad0675 2 years ago Author

It is advisable to consult a doctor.


reclusionperpetua 2 years ago

i had this in my penis shaft and some in my scrotum and its very annoying grrr


Random 2 years ago

I'm 17, I've been having this since middle school. Where can I find the right solution for this. I'm more concern of the spots on my lip because they are not too noticeable, but I just don't want them to grow bigger or expand what can I use ?


srirad0675 profile image

srirad0675 2 years ago Author

It is advisable to consult a doctor.


GeorgeMed222 2 years ago

When they appear on the male organ, men get obsessive about Fordyce spots. In most cases, just learning to accept them is the best course. In addition to your recommendations, using a quality penis health cream (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) can help smooth the skin, lessening the impact of the spots.


Sam 17 months ago

im 14 and suffering with this, I need help?


avie jhoyce 16 months ago

thanks for this info i put apple cider vinegar in my lips i hope it will go soon it scares me


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 8 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Hi, thank you for this article with all the useful information. I finally know what these spots are and how to get rid of them. Thanks Stella

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