What are Fordyce Spots?
Many Australians have Fordyce spots, but may not be sure what they are. Fordyce spots, which are also known as Fordyce granules, are small and slightly elevated spots on the border of lips, and on the penis and scrotum of males or the vulva of females. The elevation of the spots may range from 0.2 to 3 millimeters. They are not harmful, but they can be aesthetically unappealing. Fordyce spots are common in both males and females and often appear during puberty. While Fordyce spots are not harmful, they can cause anxiety and self-consciousness, especially if they appear in visible areas of the body. However, it is important to note that Fordyce spots are not contagious and do not pose any health risks.
What Causes Fordyce Spots?
First of all, you need to know what sebaceous glands are – they are the glands that produce sebum (a natural oil that lubricates your skin) and are normally found associated with hair follicles. Fordyce spots are just sebaceous glands without hair follicles! So the sebum they produce builds up as it can’t be released via the hair follicle, and the gland swells with the sebum resulting in a small lump. In fact, around 70-80% of Australian adults have some form of Fordyce spots. You might have had Fordyce spots since birth but they would have become more visible from puberty onwards.
In general, Fordyce spots are harmless. It does not matter if the spots are on the lips or the genital area. Fordyce spots are not infectious and not a sexually transmitted disease.
What are the Symptoms of Fordyce Spots?
There can be a great deal of anxiety generally for patients identifying what Fordyce spots are, regardless of if they are on the genitals or the lips. Some other conditions that can appear similar to Fordyce spots are:
- Pearly penile papules – small lumps that appear in rows around the base of the head of the penis
- Tysons glands – similar to Fordyce spots and appear on the sides of the frenulum of the penis
- Montgomery Tubercles – sebaceous glands located on the nipples
- Skin tags – outgrowths of skin that generally present in the groin not the penis or vulva
- Genital warts or another sexually transmitted disease.
A Checklist for Identifying Fordyce spots:
- Size of spots: 0.2 to 3 millimeters in diameter
- Colour of spots: light yellow, pale skin toned, possibly reddish
- Location of spots: lips, nipples (Montgomery tubercles) or genital area
- Pain: No pain
- Itch: Occasionally itchy – especially after intercourse if on the penis
Fordyce Spots Treatment Options
Fordyce spots usually don’t need treatment. They are generally removed for cosmetic reasons due to the embarrassment and low self-esteem they can cause. Some of the options available for removing them are…….
Micro-punch surgery for Fordyce spots
A doctor may use a micro-punch 1-2mm in diameter to excise the skin around the individual spots. The spot is removed manually and a small suture (stitch) is inserted to close the hole in the skin. Before performing it, local anesthetic is used to reduce your pain. While highly effective at removing the spots the process is time-consuming and results in a small scar.
Laser treatments for Fordyce spots
A doctor may use carbon dioxide or pulsed dye laser treatments to zap Fordyce spots. This is a treatment offered by many doctors in Australia. This is faster than micro-punch surgery However, as lasers need to penetrate through the outer layer of skin to reach the spot damage to the skin is inevitable and also comes with the risk of scarring.
Topical treatments for Fordyce spots
A Doctor may recommend Topical treatments to shrink or remove Fordyce spots including bichloracetic acid, topical tretinoin, and oral isotretinoin in conjunction with the other physical treatments. They may produce side effects, such as inflammation and a burning sensation. It is important to know that only physical removal of the spot, will permanently remove them.
AGNES Radio Frequency treatment for Fordyce spots
The Agnes radio frequency device is the only procedure that offers excellent results of permanently removing Fordyce Spots, this Fordyce Spot treatment offers virtually no downtime and very low risk. From a patient perspective, it is a happy outcome, the treatment is simple and straightforward, the epithelium and dermis surrounding the gland is protected and there is no likelihood of scarring. The device uses specially designed micro-insulated needles to target and destroy the gland (Fordyce spot) while protecting the surrounding tissues. There are a number of needles that can be used depending on what is being treated. The needle used for Fordyce spots is short as the gland is just below the surface. Depending on the number of spots, It can take a few sessions to remove them all.
Dr. Holman is the pioneer of Fordyce Spot removal. After many years of treating patients, he has witnessed significant levels of anxiety and self-esteem they can cause, especially if there are large numbers, such as crops of hundreds of granules. By successfully treating the spots with excellent results, makes his patients feel happier and more confident to go about their daily lives.
Contact Dr Holman and the MH Clinics team today at 1300 374 656 to make an appointment in either of his clinics in Sydney and Adelaide. He also offers a clinic in Melbourne at certain times of the year by appointment.