Fordyce Spots

What are Fordyce Spots?

Fordyce spots are small bumps or spots on the skin (measuring from 1 to 3 millimeters in diameter) which are painless and harmless.

It may have a pale, whitish, or reddish appearance [1]. Also, it is defined as a type of ectopic sebaceous gland, which means that it is a sebaceous gland located on the wrong place [2]. Instead of appearing on the skin surfaces with hair, these are located at the moist tissues of the body, particularly the mucosal surfaces [3]. It can be commonly found on the penis shaft, scrotum, labia, or the lip’s vermillion border.

Fordyce spots are also referred to as Fordyce granules or sebaceous prominence [2]. The condition was named after John Addison Fordyce, an American dermatologist [1].

Fordyce Spots Causes

1. Trapped sebum in the sebaceous glands

Fordyce spots develop on the skin due to the trapped sebum or oil of the skin. Sebum is defined as the skin’s natural oil. Normally, the skin is able to secrete this oil from the sebaceous gland, into the hair follicle, going to the hair shaft.

In the case of Fordyce spots, the oil or sebum cannot get out of the sebaceous gland because there is no hair on the skin. This causes trapping of sebum into the sebaceous glands, and further results to appearance of bumps. [3]

2. Other possible causes

  • May be due to genetic factors
  • Most commonly appears in puberty [4]

Unlike in the case of pimples, Fordyce spots are not caused by bacterial infection to the skin. This is why these bumps or spots do not cause pain, itchiness, or pus [3].

Contrary to the false belief, it is not contagious or cancerous [5]. So, it cannot be passed on through sexual intercourse. It may even be obtained by someone who does not have sexual contact with others [6].

Fordyce Spots Symptoms

Fordyce spots are natural body condition. Even though it is harmless and non-infectious, many people with this condition are worried that it may be a sign of cancer or a sexually transmitted disease. This is why most of people with Fordyce spots seek help with a dermatologist [1]. Here are the symptoms that usually occur:

  • Small bumps or spots on the surface of the skin
  • Has raised appearance
  • Pale, white, or red in color
  • Measure 1-3 mm in diameter
  • Painless, non-itchy, no appearance of pus [1, 3, 5]

Fordyce Spots Locations (with Pictures)

Fordyce spots are a natural condition of the body. This occurs in both males and females [1]. This condition can appear in all age groups, but it happens in most male adults. These spots can be observed in areas such as mucosal surfaces and other wet tissues [5]. The common locations of Fordyce Spots include:

  • Males: Scrotum and shaft of the penis
  • Females: Labia
  • Both: On the skin, at the Vermillion border (the area where the lips is attached to the skin of the face), retromolar mucosa (inner surface of the mouth) [1, 2]

Fordyce spots on the vermillion border picture

Picture 1: Fordyce spots on the vermillion border(on lips)

Fordyce spots on the retromolar mucosa image

Picture 2: Fordyce spots on the retromolar mucosa

Fordyce Spots Treatment and Removal

Even though Fordyce spots are natural body occurrence, many are still concerned with it, especially to its appearance and location. Actually, these spots can resolve by itself without any forms of treatment [3]. However, for the individuals who would like to get rid of it at a faster rate, these are the treatment available for Fordyce spots:

Dermatologic Products

1. Tretinoin cream or gel

  • Can reduce the prominence of the Fordyce spots
  • More effective when used together with alpha hydroxacid agent

2. Trichloroacetic acid chemical peel

  • Facilitates peeling off the skin in which spots are located.
  • When used for the lip area, products to keep it moisturized are needed. [3]

3. Exfoliating scrubs or creams

  • They may help by removing the trapped dirt on the skin.
  • Also, it can facilitate clearing of the clogged pores due to the accumulation of sebum. [4]

4. Anti-sebum

  • It is a new dermatologic product which can aid in removing the excess oils that give rise to Fordyce spots.
  • It also reduces the visibility and size of the spots, making them less noticeable. [7]

Cosmetic Surgeries for Fordyce Spots

1. Cryosurgery

  • A procedure in which liquid nitrogen is used to eliminate the bumps or spots.
  • However, there is a risk for nerve or tissue damage with its use. [3, 5]

2. Vaporizing laser treatments

  • Example is CO2 laser or electro dessication
  • This aids in reducing the spot visibility

3. Pulsed dye lasers

  • This is a laser treatment intended for treatment of sebaceous gland hyperplasia, a condition same to Fordyce spots.
  • This treatment is actually pricey but the risk of scarring is less compared to the other methods of treatment.

4. Micro-punch excision

  • Pioneered by Professor Norbert Pallua, a German professor in plastic surgery
  • In a retrospective study led by Pallua, it was found out that good cosmetic results were obtained with the use of this treatment in 23 patients.
  • Also, there has been no proven recurrence of Fordyce spots from 12 to 84 months after the treatment. [1, 2]

Simple Remedies to get rid of Fordyce Spots

1. Dietary modification

  • Eat foods with high anti-oxidative properties to aid in lessening the oil present on the skin and in the body.
  • Include garlic supplements in the diet
  • Consume foods which are rich in vitamins A, B, C, D, and E

2. Hygiene

  • Good hygiene can help in reducing the chances of having Fordyce spots.
  • Wear underwear that is not tight-fitting. This is essential to prevent sweating in the genital areas.
  • Always shower after doing work-outs
  • Use anti-bacterial soap to unclog the pores in which excess oils are trapped. [8]

Points to Consider

Fordyce spots is a condition which is natural to the body. Contrary to what most people think, it is not contagious, infectious, cancerous, and sexually transmitted. Thus, trying treatment aimed against infections or cancer will not cure it. It is a self-resolving condition, so no treatment is needed.

However, for those who want to get rid of it as soon as possible, consult a dermatologist for most optimal and safest treatment available.


Fordyce Spots
5 (100%) 23 votes

Published on by under Diseases and Conditions.
Article was last reviewed on September 26th, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Back to Top