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Visible sebaceous glands without hair follicles are referred to as Fordyce spots. Although they are totally harmless, they might raise a cause of concern if you tend to feel embarrassed about them. Read on to know more about Fordyce spots, their symptoms, causes and if at all there is a cure for them.
What Are Fordyce Spots?
Whitish yellow-coloured bumps that might be present on the inside of your cheeks or on the edge of your lips are likely to be Fordyce spots. In some rare cases, these appear on the scrotum or penis in a male and on the labia for a female.
These enlarged oil glands are also called Fordyce glands or Fordyce granules. These are harmless and painless. Almost 80 per cent of adults have these - although these are not noticeable most of the time.
Sebaceous glands are associated with hair follicles. However, these Fordyce spots tend to occur on the region of your skin where there is no hair. These might appear isolated or in scattered forms. In some cases, these might cluster together.
What Cause Fordyce Spots?
These are considered to be a part of one's anatomy. Although they are usually present since birth, one begins to notice them only during or after puberty. This is because during puberty, hormonal changes usually enlarge them such that they become visible.
Many researchers have said that Fordyce spots are common in people who have an oily skin. Few studies have also associated the occurrence of Fordyce spots with other serious ailments such as the presence of an inherited form of colorectal cancer (where Fordyce spots were found inside the mouth of the patient).
Studies also indicate that the presence of a large number of Fordyce spots inside the mouth might be linked to hyperlipidemia (a risk factor for heart ailments). Hyperlipidemia is a condition that involves extremely high levels of fat in the blood.
Fordyce spots are at the most about 3 mm in diameter. They tend to be flesh coloured. They appear reddish when in the genital region. These mostly appear on the inside of your lips and cheeks and on the outside of your lips.
They are not itchy or infectious. These spots when in the genital region might bleed sometimes during intercourse. They are barely noticeable.
When on the lips, Fordyce spots usually appear symmetrically on both sides of your lips.
Diagnosis Of Fordyce Spots
When you approach your doctor with something that you assume to be Fordyce Spots, the doctor would perform his own round of analysis to reach a conclusive diagnosis. Most of the time, these can be determined just by their appearance. However, at times a biopsy might be performed. In this process, a sample of the tissue is removed from the affected region and examined under a microscope.
Is There A Cure For Fordyce Spots?
These are harmless and something that is natural. They are benign and are not caused by any disease. Sometimes, symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease might be mistaken for Fordyce spots. It is, therefore, important to have them checked by a doctor before reaching a conclusion. You can also approach a doctor in case these spots are making you conscious due to cosmetic reasons. Although many people do say so, there is no full-proof home remedy that can work towards removal of these spots.
Some of the remedial options to get rid of Fordyce spots are:
• Micro-punch surgery
Multiple spots can be removed effectively with the use of micro-punch surgery. A local anaesthetic is applied so that there is no pain during the process. A pen-like device is used to punch the skin and remove the unwanted tissue. This process is effective as it does not leave any scars behind.
• Laser treatments
Fordyce spots can be treated by using carbon dioxide laser treatments. But this can leave behind scars. The less scarring option is pulsed dye lasers. The similarity between both these laser treatments is that they both use a concentrated beam of light. However, the difference lies in the wavelength being used. Laser treatment using pulsed dye laser is more expensive.
• Topical treatments
Fordyce spots can be removed with the help of bichloracetic acid, topical tretinoin and oral isotretinoin. Tropical treatment can also be combined with laser treatments for better results. Inflammation and burning sensation are the side effects of these topical treatments.
Chemical cauterization is another treatment option.
Are They Contagious?
They are not infectious. Fordyce spots are not a form of disease and a majority of people do have them. It is important to note that one should not pick or squeeze these spots as it can cause infections to develop.
How Long Do Fordyce Spots Last?
They generally fade away on their own with time and usually would not require any specific treatment.