Fordyce Spots

Fordyce spots are a common dermatological condition characterised by the appearance of small, raised, pale, yellow, red, or white bumps on the skin. While they are typically harmless, Fordyce spots can cause concern for those experiencing them.

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Key Points

What are Fordyce spots?

Fordyce spots are small glands in the skin that produce sebum, the skin’s natural oil, and are usually found in hair follicles. However, Fordyce spots can appear on areas of the skin where there are no hair follicles, such as the lips, inner cheeks, or genital area. Fordyce spots are not caused by a viral infection and do not pose any risk of transmission.

Who gets Fordyce spots?

Fordyce spots are common and can affect individuals of any age, gender, or ethnicity. They are not acquired through any specific means but rather result from the natural development of sebaceous glands.

Clinical features

Fordyce spots typically present as small, painless bumps on the skin. They can vary in colour, appearing pale, red, yellow or white, and may be slightly raised or dome-shaped. These spots are most commonly found on the lips, inner cheeks, genital area, and sometimes on the shaft of the penis or labia.

Diagnosis and differential diagnosis

Diagnosing Fordyce spots usually involves a visual examination by a doctor. Fordyce spots may resemble other skin conditions, such as genital warts or molluscum contagiosum. However, unlike these conditions, Fordyce spots are not caused by a viral infection and do not pose any risk of transmission.

Impact and complications

While Fordyce spots themselves are harmless and do not cause any symptoms, they can be a source of concern for those affected by them. In some cases, individuals may experience emotional distress or self-consciousness due to the appearance of these spots, particularly if they are present in highly visible areas.

Cause of Fordyce spots

The exact cause of Fordyce spots is not fully understood. However, they are believed to result from the overgrowth or malformation of sebaceous glands during development. Hormonal changes, genetics, and other factors may also play a role in their formation.

Treatment options for Fordyce spots

Fordyce spots typically do not require treatment, as they are benign and harmless. However, if desired for cosmetic reasons or if the spots cause significant distress, treatment is usually performed using fine wire diathermy. Multiple treatments are usually required.

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