Fordyce spots (or sebaceous granules) are characterized as small yellow/white papules ranging in diameter (1-5 mm) and are slightly raised from skin surface. These spots usually appear on genital organs, such as on shaft or glans of the penis in males, and vulva in females. Apart from the genitals, Fordyce spots can appear inside mouth and on the edges of lips.
Fordyce spots are basically sebaceous glands but deprived of hair follicles. These spots are harmless and present in a large chunk of adult population without producing any symptoms. Contrary to a common belief, Fordyce spots are not transmitted sexually and does not classify as a disease at all. However, Fordyce Spots treatment options are meant for cosmetic purposes.
Signs & Symptoms
Generally, Fordyce spots are harmless and don’t present any symptoms at all. Rarely, it can cause itching and mild pain. These spots appear as bumps and usually appear on genital organs of both genders and some areas around the lips.
Fordyce spots haven’t been found to cause trouble and typically do not present with symptoms. However, these spots are a cause of cosmetic concern, hence various methods, mostly surgical, are available for purely cosmetic purposes. The following fordyce spots treatment options are available including one non-surgical approach:-
Medical Treatment (Non-Surgical)
The medical approach employs topical application of drugs such as bichloracetic acid and tretinoin (Retin-A, Avita). The other option is to take isotretinoin (Sotret, Claravis) orally. These drugs act by shrinking the Fordyce spots and can also be given prior or in conjunction with the laser treatment for their removal.
Side effects are a concern with the medical approach. Local inflammation and burning sensation can occur in the areas of topical application.
Two types of laser treatments are usually approached. One type is the carbon dioxide laser, which is cheaper, but may causing scarring. The other type is the Pulsed dye laser which is more expensive than its previous counterpart, and scarring is also minimum. Both types of treatment focus beam of light working at different wavelengths and effectively reduce Fordyce spots.
A pen-like instrument is used in this approach to puncture the affected parts of skin and excise the spots in total. This procedure is performed in local anesthesia to numb the area and thus cause minimal pain. This approach is highly efficient and does not produce scar tissue, which could otherwise become an additional cause of cosmetic concern. One study concluded that the spots do not recur for another year after this procedure.
Other Options of Treatment
- Chemical cauterization
- Photodynamic therapy (PTD)
- Electrodesiccation and Curettage (EDC): Usually performed in several sessions.