Sebaceous glands (Fordyce spots or Tyson glands)
Medically reviewed by Dennis A Porto, MD
- Requires medical diagnosis
- Symptoms: Small painless bumps
- Color: Typically pale-red or yellow-white
- Location: Generally around the mouth and genitals
- Treatment: No treatment necessary; laser treatment, elector desiccation, pulsed dye laser treatment
Visible sebaceous glands, also known as Fordyce spots or Fordyce granules, are small white papules that can sometimes be visible on thin skin.
Sebaceous glands are sweat glands that help moisturize the skin and hair. They are present on most of the body, and sometimes are visible on the penis, scrotum, lips, or inner (buccal) cheeks. These are completely normal and are not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Cosmetic treatments are available, but it should be stressed that these lesions do not need treatment and typically do not get worse (or better) on their own. Most people have visible Fordcye spots.
Symptoms of Fordyce Spots (Visible Sebaceous Gland)
Sebaceous glands appear around the mouth and genitals. This include the shaft of the penis, and the scrotum for men and the labia for women. Around the mouth, they usually appear where the lips meet the skin of the face (vermillion border).
These glands are small, pale-red or yellow-white bumps, which are painless and do not itch. On the genital areas, they may appear as bright red or purple.
There usually are multiple lesions. On the lips, there are often a dozen or more. On the genitals there can be hundreds.
What can I do?
Avoid picking or squeezing the spots. Fordyce spots are natural occurrences and do not require treatment. Therefore, any type of treatment is for cosmetic purpose only. Electrodessication and laser treatment by a trained dermatologist can create an excellent cosmetic outcome.
Home remedies do not work and often cause side effects or worsening. These popular treatments are ineffective and sometimes problematic:
- Coconut or tea tree oil
- Increase vitamin intake
- Increase consumption of water
- Turmeric powder (about 1/4th tablespoon) mixed with apple cider vinegar
- Oatmeal bath
- Diet rich in garlic, citruses, broccoli, asparagus
- Omega-3 supplement
You should always consult with a doctor about treatment options.
Should I seek medical care?
Visible sebaceous glands are not harmful, so treatment is not critical.
Home Remedies Care. 15 Natural Home Remedies to Get Rid of Fordyce Spots. Available at: http://www.homeremediescare.com/15-natural-home-remedies-to-get-rid-of-fordyce-spots/
Sexinfo Online. What Are Fordyce Spots? Available at: http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/fordyce-spots
DermNetNZ. Fordyce spots. Available at: http://www.dermnetnz.org/acne/fordyce.html
New Health Advisor. Fordyce Spots on Lips. Available at: http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Fordyce-Spots-on-Lips.html
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