Fordyce Spots: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Updated in January 2024

Fordyce spots, also known as Fordyce granules, are small yellowish or whitish spots that may appear on the lips, on the inside of the cheeks or on the genitals. They emerge on their own and generally do not cause health problems.

These spots can appear due to enlarged sebaceous glands and may appear at any age (although they most frequently occur during puberty due to hormonal changes). They are not related to HIV, herpes, sexually transmitted infections, genital warts or cancer.

Although Fordyce spots do not require any specific treatment, there are ways you can remove them for aesthetic reasons, through the use of creams or even having laser surgery.

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

Main symptoms

Fordyce granules can cause symptoms like:

  • The appearance of yellow, whitish or reddish spots
  • Spots measure around 1 to 3 mm;
  • Isolated or clusters of yellow or white dots.
  • Fordyce granules in the mouth usually appear on the upper lip, inner lips, cheek, or gums.

In the genital region, in women, Fordyce granules can appear on the vaginal lips. In men, it is common for Fordyce granules to appear on the body of the penis, glans, foreskin or testicles. Learn more about what can cause lumps or pimples on the penis.

What can cause the spots to appear?

Fordyce spots are usually present from birth; however, they may not be easily seen. After adolescence, and with hormonal changes, these spots can become larger and more visible.

The spots can appear in anyone but are twice as frequent in men and in people with very oily skin.

Also recommended: Red Spots on Penis: 11 Common Causes & What to Do

Are Fordyce spots contagious?

Fordyce granules are not contagious or nor are they caused by viral or bacterial infections. They emerge on their own in the region of the mouth or genitals.

Imagem ilustrativa número 3

Treatment options

The treatment of Fordyce spots is usually only done for aesthetic reasons. It is not always possible to completely eliminate the lesions, however. Some of the more common ways to remove the spots include:

  • Use of ointments and creams that contain tretinoin or dichloroacetic acid. These medications can visibly reduce skin changes, but should only be used if prescribed by a dermatologist;
  • Micro-punch technique: Local anesthesia is applied to to the affected area and then the doctor uses a pen-like device to excise the lesions from the skin;
  • CO2 Laser: The doctor uses a strong ray of light to remove the lesions. This technique can leave scars and therefore should only be performed by a dermatologist.

These treatment techniques can be used to remove or disguise Fordyce spots from all parts of the body, even in the genital region.

Natural remedies like jojoba oil, vitamin E or argan extract have been successfully used in the treatment of Fordyce spots in combination with medication.

It is important to avoid squeezing or picking at the Fordyce spots at home to remove them, as this technique will not permanently eliminate them and may put you at risk for developing a skin infection.