What are Fordyce spots?
It is a skin disorder that affects both men and women of all ages. The condition has been named after an American dermatologist, John Addison Fordyce. This ailment is also known by many other names like:
- Angiokeratoma of the scrotum
- Sebaceous prominence
- Fordyce granules
- Fordyce’s condition
Fordyce spots Symptoms
In this condition, minute, elevated, pale, red or white spots erupt on the following parts of the body:
- Shaft of the penis or labia
- Inner surface and borders of the lips
These small lesions normally measure between 1 and 3 mm in diameter. The skin bumps are basically superficial sebaceous or oil-producing glands found on the moist tissues lining some organs, body cavities and mucosal surfaces. However, these glands cannot be correlated to hair follicles. Although these lesions do not produce any symptoms, patients who carelessly maintain their skin are often subjected to inflammation or itching. These tiny spots on the foreskin are normally called Tyson’s glands, exocrine glands located in front of the genitals.
What causes Fordyce spots?
Since these lumps are oil-secreting glands, the causative agent of the dermatological disorder is considered to be sebum, the oily secretion of the sebaceous gland. Normally, these glands open into a hair follicle and secrete the oil, which goes up to the hair shaft. However, in this condition, the skin lesions are ectopic sebaceous glands, which means the normal glands have been malpositioned or displaced without any definitive cause. Therefore, the sebum gets trapped in these hair follicle-lacking glands and finds no outlet to get discharged from the body. This results in the formation of small, pale bumps. The development of pimples is also due to blocked sebaceous glands. Nevertheless, the absence of an exit route prevents the entry of bacteria and inhibits skin infection. Generally, the microbial flora on the skin feed on the sebaceous oil and cause acute inflammation of the surrounding tissue, leading to an array of infections. As aforementioned, Fordyce granules are asymptomatic and give rise to a painless as well non-infectious condition. Most importantly, these spots are not a manifestation of a serious disorder, but exist only as a cosmetic concern.
Fordyce spots Diagnosis
The condition is identifiable by the characteristic spots on the specific areas of the body. Physical assessment of the affected region of the skin with a dermatoscope may help in detecting the nature of the lesions. Most physicians conduct a biopsy of the bumps to confirm the condition and rule out the possibility of other skin diseases. Patients with suspected sexually transmitted disorders may need to go through some additional tests.
Fordyce spots Differential Diagnosis
A skincare specialist should rule out the following disorders while making the diagnosis for Fordyce condition:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Calcinosis cutis
- Muir-Torre syndrome
- Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1
- Cowden Disease
- Fibrous papule of the Face
- Sebaceous Adenoma
- Follicular Infundibulum Tumor
- Sebaceous Carcinoma
Fordyce spots Treatment and Removal
Healthcare givers usually do not recommend the patients to undergo any treatment as these abnormal growths are normally benign in nature. Vaporizing laser therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses high-power light for quick vaporization and precise removal of the tiny spots on the skin. CO2 laser is typically used for this condition. Some patients may go for electrodesiccation in which a high-frequency electric current is applied on the affected area to dehydrate and destruct the bumps. Pulsed dye laser treatment is also a good option for getting rid of such small lesions.
Tretinoin gel/cream can be applied directly onto the affected skin for reducing the prominence of the spots. The topical medication is normally safe and cures many skin ailments, including Fordyce granules. The efficacy of the product can be further increased when combined with another topical compound called alpha hydroxy acid.
Trichloroacetic acid chemical peel can also be used to improve and smooth the texture of the spots-filled skin. The chemical solution penetrates deep into the skin and eventually causes the lesions to slough off. The affected skin gradually peels off, giving rise to a new layer of lesion-free skin. Although the chemical peel causes significant improvement in the appearance of the spots, it should not be used on the lips. However, at higher concentrations the medication can lead to scarring. In severe cases, patients undergo cryosurgery, which involves application of extreme cold to destroy the bumps on the skin. The method can however, damage the tissues surrounding the spots.
Fordyce spots Home Treatment and Remedies
Home remedies have become a popular alternative to traditional medicine as it offer natural, low cost cures with no side effects for Fordyce condition. Affected patients can switch to a diet rich in garlic, which is an excellent antioxidant for healing wounds and infection. A variety of fruits and vegetable comprise of Vitamins B Complex, A, C, D, E and K, that helps in quick alleviation of the skin spots. Application of Argania and Jojoba oil, containing Tocopherol extract, on the affected skin has proved to be quite beneficial to the patients. Practicing good personal hygiene blocks the transmission of infectious agents and prevents the condition from getting aggravated.
Do Fordyce spots go away completely?
In most cases, the spots gradually disappear on there own, with or without therapeutic measures. However, these small bumps may again occur on the skin, despite treatment.
Fordyce spots are a natural occurrence on the skin and absolutely non-contagious. It is a self-limiting disorder and resolves after a while. As Fordyce spots occurs on the lips and genital regions, many patients go for early treatment. There are many forums and support groups that provide correct information about this condition. As with all medical conditions, it is advisable to consult a doctor before skipping to a conclusion.
Fordyce spots Pictures
Check out how Fordyce’s spots appears.
Fordyce spots on lips Pictures
Pictures of Fordyce’s spots on Shaft of the Penis and Scrotum