They are enlarged sebaceous (oil producing) glands which were first described by John Fordyce, a famous dermatologist, in 1896. They are harmless, small (1-2mm), pale coloured bumps that commonly occur in clusters, although they may be individual and scattered.
Fordyce spots are normal and symptomless and are commonly seen on mucosal surfaces such as
Unlike the enlarged sebaceous glands of acne, milia and sebaceous hyperplasia, Fordyce spots are enlarged oil glands that do not occur around a hair follicle.
Having these spots on the foreskin or scrotum in males or on the labia of the vagina in females is normal. Everyone is born with Fordyce spots, but they generally become noticeable at puberty and as you get older. Your hormones make oil glands grow and become more noticeable.
It is important to realise that they are NOT contagious nor a sexually transmitted infection.
Between 80% to 95% of adults have Fordyce spots.
Fordyce spots on your lips, foreskin or labia are normal and harmless, but some people find them to be unsightly and bothersome and request treatment. The following treatments are available at our clinics and are carried out under topical anaesthetic cream for comfort.
Laser removal, using the Erbium YAG laser, to vaporise and remove each lesion individually.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT). Fordyce spots can be treated with PDT (refer to this section on our website) which acts by shrinking the sebaceous glands, making them less noticeable.
Electrocoagulation, using a radiofrequency device called a Hyfrecator, where a very fine-tip probe is used to coagulate the spots. Although usually very well tolerated it may, in a small number of cases, result in fine scars or pigmentation spots. Most of these settle in time.
Other treatments. Surgical removal, freezing or burning are not recommended as they have the potential to leave unsightly scars.
PDT usually requires 2-4 treatments scheduled one month apart, with each treatment reducing the spots progressively. It is a completely non-invasive treatment option. Maintenance treatments will be required.
The other treatments are aimed at removing the individual lesions, so have the potential for long term reduction. However, you may need to have further treatment if new lesions develop in time or if some of the treated lesions fail to disappear completely or regrow (most, however, do not regrow).
There is no downtime with PDT.
The other treatments will result in some crusting of the treated lesions, which will heal in a week or so.
Most concerns have more than one course of treatment. Feel free to contact us so one of our team can discuss options for your unique concern.