Dermatology/White lumpy skin


Hello Doctor,

I wanted to ask you about something that I have never experienced before.

This afternoon I was going about my normal routine when I felt a burning sensation  on the upper  lip towards the top corner.

I went and had a look in the mirror and just when I opened my mouth to have a look, I saw a whitish skin formed on the lip which is the kind of peel that happens day after a burn!

I am quite puzzled. I don't use any products on lips, I don't think it's a sun burn because where I live it's been pouring down for the past one  week and I don't think it's allergy because I haven't used any products...

Would you have any idea what it might be so I can control it immediately before it becomes something embarrassing. The only 2 symptims that I have is that it's a white lumpy skin and it has burning sensation but no itchy feeling,

Your help will be greatly appreciated doctor.

Many thanks


Many people, both men and women, suffer from Fordyce spots on and around the mouth area, or on the lips themselves. Their appearance is fairly unsightly, giving the appearance of a disease rather than Fordyce spots. Lips become affected by small groups or lines of white or yellow spots or pimples known as Fordyce spots. Lips affected by Fordyce spots cause distress and concern to sufferers, as they worry over what other people, particularly partners, might think about the spot’s origin.

What are Fordyce spots?
Fordyce spots are unsightly white spots or pimples that can appear on the lips or mouth in both men and women. Some sufferers also find they get Fordyce spots on the vagina, or Fordyce spots on the penis. Fordyce spots were named for the dermatologist John Addison Fordyce, who first discovered them.

Fordyce spots on the lips and mouth are completely harmless and are not contagious in any way. Oral Fordyce spots affect both men and women, although men seem to suffer more often. However, the incidence and degree of Fordyce spots on and around the mouth varies widely from person to person.

Fordyce spots on the lips
Fordyce spots on the lips or mouth take the form of small (around 1–2mm in diameter) yellow-white spots in the oral area – on and near the lips and around the mouth. Fordyce spots appear on the lips when ectopic sebaceous glands become too full with oil or pus, resulting in the appearance of yellow or white spots, most commonly at the border of the lips. This condition is known as sebaceous hyperplasia.

Fordyce spots on the lips are present from birth, usually appearing for the first time around puberty, and often persist throughout the sufferer’s lifetime. However, the incidence of Fordyce spots has been known to decrease as people get older, with fewer Fordyce spots appearing on the lips in later years.

Normally, if you get Fordyce spots on your lips, you will not experience any pain or irritation. Fordyce spots on the lips are asymptomatic, meaning they simply appear without any other problem developing. However, if you attempt an inappropriate treatment for Fordyce spots on the lips, you may find that itching or irritation occurs.

Have I got Fordyce spots on my lips?
To discover whether you have Fordyce spots on your lips, carefully examine the lip and mouth area, including the skin around the mouth, and check for small yellow or white spots, pimples, granules or dots on the skin. There may also be slight prominence, or bumps in the skin where the spots are found.

As explained, there should be no pain or irritation associated with your Fordyce spots unless you have attempted a treatment that is inappropriate. If you have any itching or discomfort from an oral condition, you should consult your doctor, as the problem may be something different from Fordyce spots on the lips.

Always remember that if you are in any doubt over whether you actually have Fordyce spots on your lips or another, more serious condition, consult your doctor. Self-examination is not a substitute for a professional medical examination.  


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Michael S. Fisher, <B>Ph.D., M.D.</B>


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