Reason behind the weird white bumps you can find on your private parts
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Some of you may have noticed strange white bumps on your body, which often appear down in your... ahem, nether regions.
Thankfully, while they may look slightly ominous, they’re actually perfectly normal – and they even have a name.
The enlarged, slightly raised spots are commonly found around the edges of your lips and inside your cheeks, but also sometimes show up on your genitals.
They are actually enlarged oil glands, and appear on areas of your skin that are hairless, according to WebMD, which adds that they are usually cream-coloured or yellowish-white, 0.2mm-2mm in size and either clustered together or scattered.
While they can be itchy, they aren’t usually painful or irritating, and sometimes aren’t even visible unless you stretch the skin.
The bumps are known medically as ‘Fordyce spots’, which are named after American dermatologist Dr. John Addison Fordyce – the man who first described them back in 1896.
As well as being found on the edges of your lips or inside of your cheeks, Fordyce spots can also turn up on your penis, foreskin or scrotum, or the labia of your vagina.
WebMD reports that the spots, sometimes known as ‘Tyson’s glands’, are sometimes only visible when the skin is stretched, meaning they may be more noticeable when you have an erection.
Fordyce spots on the penis can often look like other skin conditions like Molluscum contagiosum, milium cysts, epidermoid cysts, genital warts or herpes, but Cleveland Clinic stresses on its website that they are not sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
“The appearance of Fordyce spots in these areas is normal, and they aren’t contagious,” it says, going on to say genital warts, in particular, may look like Fordyce spots when they initially develop.
Naturally, any time something happens to your undoubtedly precious private parts, it can seem a little unnerving.
So Cleveland Clinic simply advises going to see a healthcare provider for a ‘proper diagnosis’ if you’re worried by the ‘sudden appearance of small bumps on your genitals’.
The NHS also says it’s wise to visit a GP or local sexual health clinic if you’re concerned by a ‘spot, lump or growth’ on your penis.
Possible causes, it says, include: ‘pearly penile papules’, which are small flesh-coloured lumps found on the head of the penis that do not cause symptoms or require treatment; Lymphocele, a ‘hard swelling’ that appears on the shaft after sex or masturbation that should subside soon without causing any permanent problems; Lichen planus, a non-infectious itchy rash of purple-red lumps; genital warts; sores or ulcers; Peyronie’s disease, an uncommon condition that causes a thickened area or hard lump (plaque) in the shaft of the penis, that can lead to curvature when erect; Molluscum contagiosum, a viral skin infection that causes small firm, raised spots on the skin; and penile cancer.
As for those pesky Fordyce spots, the NHS adds: “Fordyce spots are small yellowish or white spots on the head or shaft of the penis. Fordyce spots are sebaceous glands (tiny glands found near the surface of your skin) without hair follicles.
“They can also appear on the inside of the cheeks or on the lips, and are present in 80 to 95% of adults. Fordyce spots are generally harmless and do not need treatment.”
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