Also referred to as Fordyce granule, Fordyce’s spot or Fordyce spots is a harmless skin condition characterized by the appearance of tiny, white bumps which are typically painless and somewhat elevated. It has been named after the American skin expert John Addison Fordyce.
Fordyce spots can occur on different parts of the body, which include the lips as well. They can affect people of all age groups as well as both the genders. The spots are not malignant, and are often so tiny as to remain invisible to others. Patients may however experience embarrassment, low self-esteem, and self-consciousness due to the abnormal appearance of their skin condition.
Symptoms of Fordyce spots on lips
Some of the signs and symptoms of Fordyce spots on lips are listed below:
- Appearance of pale, pinkish, skin-colored, or yellowish tiny bumps on the lips, particularly on the vermilion border, i.e. the distinctive band that distinguishes the skin of the face and the skin of the lips.
- The granules may measure one to three mm in diameter.
- The spots are harmless and do not cause pain.
Fordyce spots may also appear on the scrotum, the shaft of the penis, and the labia. When any of these areas are affected, then the abnormal spots may occur as purplish or bright red papules in a cluster of fifty to 100, or as a single skin anomaly. They do not cause itchiness or pain. They are just blood vessels that are abnormally dilated and enclosed by hardened skin. Some patients may experience bleeding from the Fordyce spots during or after sexual intercourse.
A severe case of Fordyce spots on lips can cause emotional upheavals in patients and result in depression or anxiety. This is because people generally notice the face at first, and the presence of abnormal spots on lips that are easily visible can result in a not-so amiable first impression. Patients can thus become socially reclusive and awkward, thereby increasing the risk to development of psychological disorders.
Fordyce spots on lips is not a widely known condition and many doctors may not diagnose it correctly, at first. Patients may end up going to many dermatologists and skin specialists before a definite diagnosis of Fordyce spots is made.
The abnormal appearance of Fordyce spotson lips may lead many people to believe it to be some sort of infectious condition, while others may consider it as an STD or a venereal disease. However, these are just misconceptions. Fordyce spots is not a contagious disease; neither is it caused by any bacterial or viral infection. It is only a harmless dermatological abnormality.
Fordyce spotson lips are caused due to overgrowth of sebaceous glands that occur next to the hair follicles. These glands are known to spontaneously create bumps on moist tissues. The exact cause for this medical anomaly is however unknown. Studies have indicated genetic links. Also, many experts are of the opinion that Fordyce spotsis congenital and typically becomes more prominent after adolescence. The condition usually worsens from childhood to adulthood.
Fordyce spots on lips – treatment
Fordyce spots on lips are harmless and it is perfectly ok to leave them untreated. They may eventually disappear on their own after some years.
Patients may visit a skin specialist to treat Fordyce spots on lips for cosmetic reasons. The condition can be treated in the following ways:
- Use of tretinoin gel or cream: It is the easiest way to treat Fordyce spots on lips. Daily use of tretinoin creams on the affected areas can decrease its prominence. You may combine it with alpha hydroxyacid agents to get the most effective results.
- Cryosurgery: It is a minimally invasive procedure wherein the abnormal bumps are destroyed with the precise use of extremely cold temperatures. It does not cause any scars or pain. A few blisters may develop post treatment, but they fade away after some time. The adjacent nerves and tissues may however get damaged.
- Chemical peels: This process involves the use of TCA or trichloroacetic acid chemical peels to flake away the Fordyce spots on lips. The abnormal skin areas will get fully peeled-off in around 7 to 10 days. The procedure can cause the lips’ skin to become very sensitive and hence they should be soothed with a moisturizer. The downside of this technique is that the anomalous spots may return after the treatment is stopped.
- Other treatment procedures: Electro-desiccation, CO2 laser surgery, and other vaporizing laser treatments can also help obliterate Fordyce spots on lips. These can however result in scarring. Pulse dye lasers is a great way to get rid of the skin abnormalities without scarring. It is however a very expensive procedure.Topical use of jojoba oil; consumption of a balanced diet comprising of vitamins A, B-Complex, C, D, K, and E, and lots of folic acid; and maintaining great oral hygiene can also help decrease the size of Fordyce spots on lips.