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.
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.
Have you suffered from Fordyce spots?
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.
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.
- 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.
I had not heard of Fordyce spots before reading this article!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
© 2013 Srikanth R