What Are Fordyce Spots?
Fordyce spots are a dermatological condition that causes small pale red, yellowish-white or skin-colored raised bumps or spots to develop along the sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands are glands in the skin that secrete oils (sebum) for the hair and skin. 3 When these oils get blocked in the sebaceous gland, bumps are formed. Fordyce spots are not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), although their appearance can cause them to be mistaken as one. Fordyce spots are not caused by a virus or bacteria. Fordyce spots can be located along the outside border of the lips of the face, the female labia, or on the shaft and/or scrotum of the male penis (See Image Below).1 The spots may bleed following injury, irritation, or sexual activity. Fordyce spots should not be painful or itchy. 3 Consult a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Fordyce spots are often mistaken as pearly penile papules, another non-STI dermatological condition. Pearly penile papules are skin outgrowths with a white or skin-colored appearance. In contrast to Fordyce spots, pearly penile papules are often found on the head of the penis, rather than the shaft and/ or scrotum.1 Both Fordyce spots and pearly penile papules are non-transmissible and do not present any major health problem.3
Many people will not notice the spots, but if you feel self-conscious, communicate with your partner and explain that the condition is non-transmissible and extremely common. If you think you have Fordyce spots, it is important to talk to a dermatologist to confirm the condition and discuss possible treatments.
Fordyce spots are benign, natural, and will usually go away by themselves over time (though it may take many years). Since the spots are not harmful, many doctors advise against treatment. However, there are methods- including CO2 and pulsed dye laser surgery- that can reduce the visibility of the bumps (although these methods may result in scarring).3 Consult a dermatologist before attempting home remedies.
Natural treatments that may help reduce the appearance of Fordyce spots include incorporating healthy oils into one’s daily diet. This can be done by using Omega-3 supplements, such as cod liver oil.5 A diet rich in garlic (a powerful antioxidant) and Vitamins may promote healing if Fordyce spots occur. Topical creams like Tretinoin and acne washes that include benzyl peroxide and salicylic acid may help reduce the appearance of the spots. It is important to keep the area well washed. Anti-Sebum is a homeopathic product (a type of medicine that uses derivatives from natural substances) that may have success in reducing the visibility of the spots.2 However, research into the effectiveness of these methods is limited, and you should always consult with a doctor about treatment options.
1. Antony (2011). What Actually Are Fordyce Spots? Natural Way to Remove Pearly Penile Papules. http://www.pearlypenilepapulestreatments.com/fordyce-spots/
2. Carr, L. (2011). Fordyce Spots- Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies. MangoBoss.Com. http://mangoboss.com/FordyceSpots-CausesandTop10NaturalRemedies.html
3. Nordqvist, C. (2013). What Are Fordyce Spots? Medical News Today. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/256918.php
4. Ruth Holt, Graham Roberts and Crispian Scully. ABC of Oral Health: Oral Health and Disease. BMJ: British Medical Journal , Vol. 320, No. 7250 (Jun. 17, 2000) , pp. 1652-1655
5. Unknown Author. (2014). Fordyce On Lips Cure. SteadyHealth Forum. http://www.steadyhealth.com/Fordyce_On_Lips_Cure_t210038.html?page=20#1277533
Last Updated 14 May 2014