What is The Difference Between Fordyce Spots & Herpes?

Herpes Infection symptom
Fordyce Spots or Herpes?

What is The Difference Between Fordyce Spots & Herpes?

It’s natural to notice changes or irregularities in our bodies, especially in sensitive areas. Fordyce spots and herpes are two conditions that can be perplexing and upsetting.

While they differ significantly, there are some similarities to be aware of. In this post, we will look at the key differences between Fordyce spots and herpes, to help you understand these conditions and reduce any concerns you may have.

What exactly are Fordyce Spot?

Fordyce spots, also known as Fordyce granules or Fordyce glands, are small bumps that can appear on the lips, inside of the cheek, penis and scrotum (in males), or vagina and labia (in females). These bumps can appear white or yellow. The good news is that Fordyce spots are harmless and painless, and they pose no risks. The main concern is the impact on self-confidence caused by the visible bumps on the skin.

It’s worth noting that Fordyce spots are quite common, affecting roughly 70 to 80 percent of adults. These bumps form when oil glands enlarge in hairless areas of the skin. Fordyce spots are usually unnoticeable, but they appear to become more noticeable during puberty.

What exactly is herpes?

Herpes Infection symptom
Fordyce Spots or Herpes?

Herpes is a virus that causes blisters and sores in the mouth and genital areas. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is quite common. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 67% of people under the age of 50 are infected with HSV-1, and 13% are infected with HSV-2.

Herpes simplex virus is classified into two types:

  1. HSV-1: Oral herpes is a common symptom of this type and results in blisters and sores around the mouth and lips. However, it (genital herpes) can also impact the genital areas.
  2. HSV-2: This type of herpes, also known as genital herpes, primarily spreads through sexual contact and primarily impacts the genital regions.

Causes of Fordyce Spots & Herpes

What causes Fordyce spots?

Although the true cause of Fordyce spots is unknown, it is thought that both biological and environmental factors contribute to their development. When sebaceous glands overgrow in unexpected places, these spots may develop. This overgrowth may be influenced by hormonal changes and factors that occur during embryonic development.

Fordyce spots may develop as a result of various factors, such as:

  • Rheumatic disorders
  • Puberty
  • Dyslipidemia (high levels of cholesterol and fats in the blood)
  • Assigned male sex at birth
  • Oily skin
  • Colorectal cancer

What causes Herpes?

The herpes simplex virus, which is what causes herpes, is easily spread from person to person through contact. Contact with the skin or bodily fluids of an infected person, including the eyes, can spread the virus.

There are several ways to get infected, including:

  • using an infected person for anal or vaginal sex without using protection like condoms
  • Having genital contact with a person who is infected
  • transmission during delivery from an infected mother to her newborn child
  • Having oral contact with a herpes-positive person
  • using infected sex toys with infected people

Symptoms of Fordyce Spots & Herpes

Symptoms of Fordyce spots

  • Even though fordyce spots are typically hidden, they can be considered unsightly when they become apparent.
  • Sexual activity may result in some bleeding if the genitalia have Fordyce spots.
  • They frequently have a whitish-yellow or light yellow color that resembles skin color. They might look red if they develop in the genital regions.
  • Fordyce spots typically have a diameter of 1 to 3 millimeters (.04 to.12 inches), though they can occasionally be larger.

Symptoms of Herpes

Symptoms of Fordyce spots:

Fordyce spots are typically small, measuring about 1 to 3 millimeters (.04 to .12 inches) in diameter, but they can sometimes be larger.
They often have a whitish-yellow or light yellow color, resembling the color of the skin. If they occur in the genital areas, they may appear red.
If Fordyce spots are present on the genitals, there may be some bleeding during sexual activity.
Fordyce spots are generally inconspicuous, but when they become visible, they can be considered unsightly.
Symptoms of Herpes:

  • Burning and pain
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling sensation
  • Itching in the mouth or genital areas
  • Oral herpes sores can last for about two to three weeks, while genital herpes sores can last for two to six weeks.
  • Fever
  • General feeling of being unwell
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Difference Between Fordyce Spots & Herpes?

Fordyce spots and herpes are two conditions that can cause confusion and concern. let’s found out the differences below.

DEFINITIONFordyce spots, also known as Fordyce granules or Fordyce glands, are small bumps that can appear on the lips, inside of the cheek, penis and scrotum (in males), or vagina and labia (in females). Herpes is a virus that causes blisters and sores in the mouth and genital areas.
APPEARANCEFordyce spots appear as small, pale or yellowish-white bumps or spots on the skin. They commonly occur on the lips, genitals, or inside the mouth.Herpes often presents as clusters of small, fluid-filled blisters or sores that can be red and painful. They may appear on or around the genitals, mouth, or other areas of the body.
CAUSEFordyce spots are caused by the overgrowth of sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing oil on our skin. When these glands become enlarged, they can result in the appearance of Fordyce spots.Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types: HSV-1, which primarily causes oral herpes (cold sores), and HSV-2, which is associated with genital herpes.
SYMPTOMSFordyce spots are typically asymptomatic and painless. They don’t cause itching, burning, or any discomfort.Herpes can cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes. The blisters or sores may be accompanied by itching, burning, or tingling sensations.
TRANSMISSIONFordyce spots are not contagious and cannot be transmitted through sexual contact or other means.Herpes is highly contagious and can be transmitted through sexual contact or direct contact with the affected area during an active outbreak.
TREATMENTTreatment for Fordyce spots is usually unnecessary, as they are considered a cosmetic concern. However, if desired, treatments like laser therapy or topical retinoids may be considered for cosmetic purposes.While there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications can help manage and control outbreaks. These medications can reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.

Treatment of Fordyce Spots & Herpes

Treatment for Fordyce spots

Although fordyce spots are typically not harmful, many people choose to have treatment for aesthetic reasons. The following are some available treatments for these lumps:

  1. Topical Treatments: Some topical medications can be combined with laser therapies. These include topical tretinoin (Avita, Retin-A) and oral isotretinoin (Sotret, Claravis) as well as bichloracetic acid.
  2. Laser Treatments: Fordyce spots can be treated with carbon dioxide lasers, but they might leave scars. Pulsed dye lasers, which have a lower risk of scarring, are an alternative. Concentrated light beams with particular wavelengths are used in laser therapy to get rid of the bumps.
  3. Micro-Punch Surgery: In this procedure, the skin is punched and multiple spots are removed using a specialized tool that looks like a pen. This surgery has the benefit of not leaving any scars. According to studies, people who have micro-punch surgery have a significantly lower incidence of recurrent spots.

Treatment for Herpes

Here are some treatment options to take into consideration for managing herpes:

  1. Topical creams: Lotions or creams containing lidocaine can be applied to the urethra before urinating to numb the area and reduce discomfort.
  2. Aloe vera: Applying aloe vera, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, on the sores can provide relief.
  3. Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate pain associated with herpes sores.
  4. Urination discomfort: To ease pain while urinating, try squirting water from a bottle onto the sores during urination.
  5. Loose clothing: Opt for loose-fitting clothes until the sores have healed to minimize irritation.
  6. Petroleum jelly: Applying petroleum jelly on the sores helps moisturize the skin and prevent further irritation.
  7. Warm sitz bath: Soaking in a warm sitz bath can soothe the affected area and promote healing.


It’s necessary to distinguish between Fordyce spots and herpes in order to prevent confusion and unwarranted worry. Herpes is a sexually transmitted viral infection, whereas fordyce spots are benign, cosmetic issues caused by enlarged sebaceous glands. Keep in mind that if you have any questions or concerns about any skin irregularities.


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