Physical Health, Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

What are Fordyce Spots and how to get rid of them

There are options.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Nov 15, 2021

Digital meetings have brought a whole new meaning to the modern day mirror. We hope we aren’t alone when we say that while connecting virtually with colleagues and friends, we have noticed a lot more about our face than we ever have before, and not all of it is pleasant.


You may have noticed tiny pale yellow or white bumps along your lips or inner cheeks. Wondering what that is? They are Fordyce spots. Essentially these are spots that are basically enlarged sebaceous (oil) glands. Luckily, they are harmless. Ahead, we dive into exactly what they are and how to get rid of them.


What are Fordyce spots?

First things first, 70-80 percent of the population has Fordyce spots, so don’t think you’re weird or special if you start to develop them. And happily, they don’t lead to illness, but instead are just something you are born with.


They tend to be slightly raised and appear on the surfaces of the body and face — including the lips, inner cheeks, nipples and unfortunately other personal spots — basically anywhere that you sweat.


The spots can increase or even develop with hormonal fluctuations, aka during puberty. Sadly, they are also more visibly on people with oily skin and stretched skin. They are 1 mm to 5 mm in size and are rarely noticeable unless clustered in a group.


Like we said, they are not chronic, infectious, or lead to any major illness, but from an aesthetic standpoint, they might be bothersome.


So, what actually causes them?

Because Fordyce spots are produced from excess oil and sweat, most people have them. There truly are no known causes or symptoms, but occasionally they are triggered by heat, humidity and friction.


How to treat Fordyce spots

Since Fordyce spots come from oil and sweat, the best thing to do is control the oil production to reduce the visibility. And most importantly, don’t pop a Fordyce spot that looks raised. While we’re at it, don’t pop any type of zit ever! It will just cause the breakout to become inflamed.

If an acne cream or regime is not working for you — keep in mind that if you are applying over-the-counter spot removal products that they often contain chemical exfoliators that don’t always positively interact with the Fordyce spots — we advise you to see a board-certified dermatologist for more information and a more tailored treatment. Do this especially if you have more flare ups due to hormone changes. When you go to your dermatologist, they might have you undergo a skin biopsy if they cannot make a visual assessment. They might do cryotherapy, peels, electrocautery and surgical excision. Again, these spots are harmless and only will be removed if you choose to.


How to prevent Fordyce spots

The single best thing you can do for your face and for Fordyce spots is to apply sunscreen regularly and avoid excess sun exposure.


For more acne fighting tips, check out why you should use sea salt and a guide to succinic acid.


Photo via Adobe Stock