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Fordyce spots are painless marks that may appear as a single speck or in groups in different parts of the body, but most especially on the lips, tongue, nipples and genitals. They are harmless and do not cause any complications. But their presence causes a great deal of embarrassment for cosmetic reasons. Indeed, it has been found to cause anxiety and depression in some individuals.

Treatment for Fordyce spots is not usually needed because they disappear on their own. But because they can be unsightly and embarrassing, many people want to get rid of them fast and so resort to self-care measures. It would be best for a patient to seek medical advice from a qualified dermatologist before starting on any medications.

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What Causes Fordyce Spots ?

Many people believe that Fordyce spots are signs of infection or sexually transmitted disease. Fortunately, these are only simple skin problems that do not represent any significant health problem; neither do they result in complications. They appear when sebaceous oil or sebum gets trapped underneath the skin, giving rise to raised and painless bumps on the skin. The oil is produced by the sebaceous gland and is released through the shaft of the hair. If there is no hair, then there’s no way to get it out of the body, hence, resulting in bumps.

Fordyce spots do not spread from person to person because it is a natural occurrence. Men and women are equally affected by this kind of skin problem. It was named after John Fordyce, an American dermatologist.

What do Fordyce spots look like?

These spots look like pimples but they don’t cause any kind pain or discomfort. They appear in a range of colors, from pale or white to yellow and red. These painless marks are slightly elevated at about 1 to 3 millimeters round. Young and adults alike can develop this kind of skin problem but it has been found to become more problematic as people age.

Fordyce spots may appear solitary or in bands on the labia, penis, lips and nipples. They are not just unsightly but embarrassing especially if they develop on the genitals. These painless bumps are often mistaken as genital herpes and this assumption mainly constitutes most visits to the doctor.


Doctors warn against treating Fordyce spots because itchiness and irritation can occur if it is done incorrectly. Besides, treatment is not always necessary because they cause no symptoms at all. Even so, there are individuals who cannot afford to tolerate the presence of painless granules and opt to seek treatment.

Among the products used by doctors to treat this problem include:

  • Gel or cream

Tretinoin gel or cream effectively reduces the size of Fordyce marks making them less noticeable. It has been found to be more effective when used with anti-acne alpha hydroxyacid agent.

  • Trichloracetic Acid chemical peel

This product works by peeling off the superficial layer of the skin, making the spots less noticeable. However, this should be used along with moisturizer if applied on the lips.

Fordyce spots can be managed further by means of cryosurgery. Holistic methods are available as well to speed up the disappearance of these unsightly spots.

Fordyce spots on lips – Pictures

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