Fordyce Spots – Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Remedies

Fordyce spots are a dermatological condition characterized by small, painless, pale spots or bumps that develop along the sebaceous glands, also known as “sebaceous prominence”.

They were named after American dermatologist John Addison Fordyce, who was the first to describe them as a clinical condition in a medical journal, coining the term for the condition.

They occur in 70-80% adults [1]. This condition can be common in both males and females, and is considered a type of ectopic sebaceous gland in the wrong place. They are mostly considered to be a cosmetic concern since they are not harmful, and are typically natural occurrences that are not at all dangerous or infectious to our health.

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What are the symptoms?

Fordyce spots can appear as small, raised, pale, red, yellow-white or skin-colored spots that can occur either on the shaft of the penis, the labia, scrotum, or the vermilion border of the lips on a person’s face.

These bumps or spots are typically 1 to 3 mm in diameter, and can appear in bright red or purple papules, can be isolated or appear in a group. They are typically located on the moist tissues of the body instead of on skin surfaces. These bumps are generally painless and do not have itching symptoms, and they may bleed during or after sexual intercourse.

Fordyces spots

Even though Fordyce spots are harmless and not infectious, many people mistake this condition to be a sign of cancer or a sexually transmitted disease and often seek advice from a dermatologist.

Since Fordyce spots are identifiable by their bumps or spots in a specific area on the skin, a doctor will normally do a routine physical assessment with a dermatoscope to determine the nature of the skin affected and rule out the possibility of other skin conditions.

Since Fordyce spots can occur on the facial region as well as the genitals, they can be a source of anxiety, as people may be unhappy with their appearance.

What causes it?

Fordyce spots are often caused by trapped sebum in the sebaceous glands, causing these raised bumps or spots to occur. Sebum is the skin’s natural oil, and when this sebum is unable to be secreted from the sebaceous gland due to lack of hair follicles, the sebum becomes trapped and results in the appearance of Fordyce spots. Other possible causes may be linked to genetic factors and the occurrence of puberty.

About 50-80% of the population harbors this condition, although spots may increase in visibility during puberty and early adulthood.

What treatments are available?

Since Fordyce spots are benign, they sometimes go away on their own over time and do not require treatment. Many dermatologists and doctors will advise against treatment for this reason, although those concerned about their cosmetic appearance may undergo certain treatments to lessen the visibility of their spots.

Electrodessication, or CO2 lasers, have been used as a form of treatment to help fade the spots and make their appearance less visible. Some people also resort to pulsed dye lasers, which consist of a laser treatment usually used in treating sebaceous gland hyperplasia, which is a different skin disorder.

In any event, most treatment methods are at risk of leaving unattractive scarring. This method of laser treatment does tend to leave fewer scars and is effective in some cases, although costs are expensive.

These spots might disappear and heal on their own without treatment methods. Despite this, even if treatment is done, the small bumps may occur on the skin again because they are a normal, natural occurrence on the body.

How can it be remedied?

There are also a number of natural treatments that people use to help lessen the visibility of Fordyce spots and improve their skin quality. This can be done by integrating healthy oils into the diet, taking Omega-3 supplements, and promoting a diet rich in garlic and vitamins [2].

People have also noted that applying Argania and Jojoba oil with Tocopherol extract can help alleviate the affected areas of skin quickly and be beneficial to the condition [3].

Other solutions, such as coconut oil, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, citruses, and apple cider vinegar, have been suggested as a healthy remedy for these frustrating spots.

Since Fordyce spots typically appear on the lips due to dryness, drinking water and keeping your lips moist can be helpful in preventing and remedying Fordyce spots. Avoid hot drinks and coffee that could otherwise irritate your lips.

Some people also resort to using topical treatment creams, such as Tretinoin, and different acne washes with benzyl peroxide and salicylic acid to help clear up the spots. Many people who have utilized this form of treatment have noted the reduction in the spots’ appearance.

Another treatment often cited is a Trichloroacetic Acid chemical peel, which helps peel the skin away from the spots by penetrating deep into the skin with its chemical solution. However, the effect to which these treatments work is limited and not certain, and so you should always speak to your doctor or dermatologist before attempting any treatment options.

Diets rich in Vitamins B Complex, A, C, D, E and K can help resolve these spots quicker than their normal rate, and you can get these vitamins through incorporating a number of different foods for a balanced diet [2].

It is also important to maintain good personal hygiene, wash your face gently to avoid aggravating the affected areas of your skin.

Since Fordyce spots are a natural occurrence which do not require any methods of treatment, these natural remedies may work best to prevent spots from occurring or reoccurring. While not all of these treatments may work, maintaining a balanced diet, healthy hygiene, and drinking plenty of water can ensure that your body reacts quickly and healthily to this skin condition.




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