Fordyce bumps or spots – tiny white bumps on genitals

Fordyce bumps or spots are small sebaceous glands obvious after some inspection in most people. They appear on the vulva (and penis and testicles), but also on the face or in the mouth.

What Fordyce bumps look like

  • Raised pale, red or white spots
  • 1-3mm wide
  • Usually visible when skin is stretched out
  • Painless
  • When squeezed, a thick, chalky, white substance comes out
  • If you have naturally oily skin, they may be more pronounced

They are not dangerous nor do they indicate any disease or infection. The usual reason they get noticed is for cosmetic reasons, or because people fear they have a sexually transmitted infection like cancer or genital warts. This is NOT the case.

How to talk to someone about your prominent Fordyce spots

Explaining something uncommon on your body to people is sometimes really awkward, because unless the person you are talking to has had something stick out on themselves before, they are usually quick to jump to conclusions and be judgemental.

Saying first and foremost that ‘they aren’t contagious, they are fairly common, and men have them too’ works well. You can also ask them to pull their skin tight and show them that way – we all have some little dots.

Cosmetic treatment for Fordyce bumps

These bumps are considered normal variations of anatomy – meaning, we each have our own version, just like ears and feet, and they are all normal and not dangerous.

From time to time the Fordyce bumps may be very large and a person may find wish them gone, in which case there are laser treatments (vaporising, CO2, electrodesiccation, micro-punch, or pulsed dye laser, that can help, with each leaving differing levels of scarring.

When Fordyce bumps go wrong

Sometimes they can grow together, forming cancers. This is unusual. Those with rheumatic disorders may see more.

Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)