Fordyce spots-Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Fordyce spots are known by many other names like Fordyce granules, Fordyce glands, Fordyce’s spots, or Sebaceous Prominence. They can appear in the mouth, over the face and also on the genitalia. They are small bumps or spots that measure about 1 to 3 mm in diameter. They are raised above the surface of the skin.

These Fordyce spots appear with many different colors like pale, white, red, yellowish white or they can also be skin colored. They can appear on the shaft of penis or scrotum in the males and on labia in the females. They can appear on the vermilion border of lips and inside the oral cavity or mouth in both males and females.

Fordyce spots
Fordyce spots
Image source: Healtreatcure.org

John Addison Fordyce, an American dermatologist first described these spots in a medical journal. So, they were named after this Dermatologist. They are seen in more than 70% of adults as per research studies. They are mostly harmless, as they are not caused by infections or disease. But, if they are causing a problem to the affected person cosmetically, they can be removed.

Fordyce spots causes:

Fordyce spots or Fordyce granules are Ectopic sebaceous glands. Let us try to understand this in detail. A gland is a group of cells that secrete something in the body. There are two types of glands in our body, and they are the Endocrine glands and the Exocrine glands. Both of them secrete something.

Endocrine glands don’t have any duct. They release hormones directly into the blood. Some examples of Endocrine glands in our body are the Pituitary gland, Pineal gland, Ovaries, Testes, Pancreas Endocrine portion, etc.

The Exocrine glands secrete substances over the surface of an epithelial layer through ducts. Examples of Exocrine glands are sweat gland, Mammary gland or breast of the female, Sebaceous gland, Lacrimal gland, etc. In fact, the Sebaceous gland is a modified sweat gland.

These Sebaceous glands secrete an oily substance called Sebum onto the surface of the skin through ducts. Usually, they are associated with a hair follicle. They try to secrete sebum and lubricate the hair. But, in some people there can be Ectopic Sebaceous glands, that is the Sebaceous glands exist individually without association with the hair follicles. These are called Fordyce spots or Fordyce granules.

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These Fordyce spots on lips or anywhere on the body are not caused by any sort of infection or disease. But, many people have a myth that they are caused by Sexually transmitted diseases or STI or by cancers. But, if you visit your doctor, you will come to know that they occur without any reason and are completely harmless. You only need to get them removed if you feel that they are making your face look unattractive.

Fordyce spots symptoms:

There are not many symptoms associated with Fordyce spots or Fordyce granules. They are asymptomatic. But, let us get a rough idea of how do they look like.

  • Size: About 1 to 3 mm in diameter
  • Color: Yellowish white, or White, or Red or Pale red or Skin colored or Flesh colored
  • Locations of the Fordyce granules:
  • In male: Scrotum, Shaft of penis
  • In females: Labia majora and labia minora
  • In both sexes: Face, In the oral cavity or mouth, Fordyce spots on corner of lips

Apart from the above features, they don’t have any other symptoms and are completely harmless. Sometimes, a sebaceous gland gets blocked or clogged, bacteria like Propionibacterium acnes grows in it and leads to inflammation or swelling, pain, redness, etc. This is called Acne or pimples.

In Fordyce spots also, the sebaceous glands are blocked as they are not releasing sebum to the hair follicle. But, there is no bacterial growth in them. So, they don’t cause pain, redness, itching, etc, even though they affect the sebaceous glands just like Acne.

Fordyce granules complications:

Now, you might be wondering that these spots are not causing any symptoms itself. Then, how can they cause complications? But, they do cause some problems. Let us look at them. The main problem with these spots is that they make your face look unattractive or ugly.

Many people are concerned about the appearance of their face. We are living in a society where physical appearance of a person is given a lot of importance. So, these Fordyce granules may make the person affected feel depressed or sad. They may feel anxious to go out in the people.

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These spots if they appear on the genitalia can make you feel embarrassed in front of your partner. Sometimes they may even bleed or get injured when having intercourse. Apart from the above, there are no major complications.

Fordyce spots Treatment:

As we already discussed, getting Fordyce spots treated is not mandatory as they are asymptomatic and harmless. But, if are willing to get them removed due to cosmetic reasons, there are many treatment modalities available.

But, the success rate of various therapies is variable. You need to discuss all the treatment options with your dermatologist to get proper treatment as per your requirement. Let us look at some of the treatment options available for this condition.

Pulsed dye lasers:

In this treatment, a Pulsed dye laser is used to remove the blocked sebaceous gland that is leading to the formation of this Fordyce granules. But, this treatment is efficacious only to some extent. There are people who have not found benefit from it.

Electrodesiccation:

In this procedure, electric current is used to remove the lesion of Fordyce granules. This method is also used for the treatment of skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Micropunch technique for removal of these spots:

This method is very beneficial in comparison to the Pulsed dye laser and Electrodesiccation. It has proven benefits even in research studies. When the spots are removed using this method, the rate of recurrence of these spots has also reduced drastically.

Tretinoin cream:

Some Dermatologists suggest usage of Tretinoin cream or gel over these spots. This gel is also used in the treatment of severe Acne or Pimples. People have found this gel to reduce the Fordyce granules to some extent.

Cryotherapy:

In this method, the spots are lesions are frozen by using very cold temperature. Then they are removed manually with a sharp scalpel or blade.

Chemical peels:

Some Dermatologists also suggest the use of Chemical peels with substances like Trichloroacetic acid. They help in removing the lesions effectively. But, they make the area of lesion removal extremely sensitive.

Other treatments available:
  • Chemical cautery
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • CO2 Laser
  • Bichloroacetic acid therapy

Fordyce granules Home remedies:

We have spoken about various treatment options that are available to treat the Fordyce granules. Or spots. Now, let us look at some home remedies for these spots.

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Coconut oil application:

These Fordyce spots appear prominent due to drying up. So, take some coconut oil and apply it over the spots and massage well. This will help in moisturizing the skin and making the Fordyce granules reduce in size. Do this regularly every day for few days to see some beneficial results.

Personal hygiene:

Personal hygiene is absolutely important in getting rid of any skin disorder. Maintain personal hygiene to get rid of these spots. Wash your face or genitalia, wherever these spots appear with good antibacterial soap twice or thrice daily.

Vitamin intake:

Intake of a diet full of vitamins helps in recovering from these spots faster. Take diet full of vitamins like vitamin A, B, C, D, E, K, etc. You need to eat green leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts regularly in your diet to help them heal faster. You can also take B-complex supplements daily.

Hydration:

Maintaining adequate hydration is also absolutely important to keep your skin healthy and getting rid of skin disorders. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. You can also drink fruit juices prepared at home to keep yourself hydrated. But, avoid packaged fruit juices containing sugar and preservatives.

Garlic:

Garlic is a very good remedy for many different ailments. It has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory effects. Try to incorporate Garlic in your diet regularly. It will help in reducing these spots to some extent.

Turmeric:

Turmeric is being used to treat skin disorders from ages. It has antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. So, you can use it to as a face mask to get rid of the spots over time. You need to mix a spoon of turmeric powder with some water or rose water and make a paste. Apply this mixture over the spots to have a soothing effect on the irritated skin.

You have seen the causes, symptoms, treatment options and Home remedies for Fordyce spots. You need not worry about them much as they don’t cause any symptoms or problems to you. But, if you think they are troublesome cosmetically, you can surely approach your dermatologist to get them removed.

References:
  1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/256918.php
  2. http://www.healthline.com/health/fordyce-spots#overview1
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fordyce_spots
  4. http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/fordyce-spots

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