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Pathology of Fordyce Spots

(Ectopic Sebaceous Glands)

Dr Sampurna Roy MD            


Path Quiz Case 83: Case history and images

Diagnosis: Fordyce Spots (Ectopic Sebaceous Glands)





Fordyce spots (Fordyce granules) or ectopic sebaceous glands without attached hair follicle may be present near mucocutaneous junction. 

They were initially described by Kölliken in 1861 but were named after Fordyce who wrote about them in 1896.

Clinical presentation:   

The incidence of Fordyce granules increases from childhood to adulthood, and is slightly higher in men.

Presents as tiny yellow papules. 


Fordyce Spots - Present along vermillion border of the lips or on the oral mucosa.

Montgomery's tubercle-  Normal sebaceous glands are distributed along a circle in the periphery of the areola of the breast.

Ectopic sebaceous glands are occasionally found in other sites - 

Example:  Esophagus;  penis;  labia minora ; vagina

Normal sebaceous glands on the vermilion border of the lips and the oral mucosa are common in adults.

Only pathologic sebaceous glands visible through the epithelium should be regarded as Fordyce granules.


Microscopic features:    

Histology shows a single sebaceous gland lesion consisting of single or a group of small but mature sebaceous lobules around small sebaceous duct extending to the surface epithelium.

No associated hair follicles are seen.


Differential diagnosis: Sebaceous hyperplasia  Enlarged sebaceous glands with numerous lobules around a centrally located wide duct .


Further reading:

Ectopic sebacious glands in the esophageal mucosa.

Ectopic Sebaceous Glands in the Esophagus: Endoscopic Findings over Three Years.

Ectopic sebaceous glands in the esophagus. Report of three cases.

Ectopic sebaceous glands in the esophagus.

Multiple tiny ectopic sebaceous glands discovered throughout entire esophageal tract.

Ectopic sebaceous gland: a developmental anomaly.

Fordyce spots. A little regarded finding in the area of lip pigmentation and mouth mucosa.




Dr Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)







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