Written on October 19, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Are you worried about bumps on your penis? It’s understandable to be concerned about any changes or symptoms that appear in such a sensitive area, but it's important to remember that not all penis bumps are a cause for alarm.
In this blog, common causes of bumps on the penis, their symptoms, and when you should seek medical advice will be elucidated. Understanding what's behind those bumps can help put your mind at ease.
Penile bumps can be a result of different bacterial infections and viruses, irritation, and much more.
For people who are sexually active, it is possible that the bumps are a result of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
A variety of conditions can cause penile bumps. Here are some of the possible causes.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Pearly penile papules are whitish, yellowish or pinkish bumps that often look like tiny fingers and appear in rows around the head of the penis. They aren’t an infection or cancerous. These papules occur in as many as fourteen to forty-eight percent of people with penises over the course of their lifetime and more frequently occur in people with uncircumcised penises and Black people. They're not contagious, and their cause is unknown.
Cysts, pimples, and ingrown hairs can develop on the penis, just like they can on the face or any other part of the body.
Cysts are bumps filled with fluid, aren’t painful (they might be sensitive), and usually don’t need to be treated. Pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads are a result of dirt, oil, and bacteria clogging up pores in the skin.
Ingrown hairs are a result of a hair growing back into its follicle, usually after the hair is shaved or waxed. They usually resolve on their own.
Moles are caused by excess melanin production in skin cells. They are very common and appear all over the body.
Fordyce spots are very small bumps that can appear on the penis or surrounding tissue, like on the scrotum. They tend to be yellow in color, form in clusters and can grow in size as you age. Seventy to eighty percent of adults are born with Fordyce spots.
Angiokeratomas appear in small clusters on the skin in small clusters where blood vessels near your skin enlarge or dilate. They can be caused by hypertension or conditions that affect blood vessels near the penis, such as hemorrhoids or varicocele (dilated veins in your scrotum). They are usually harmless but can be a symptom of Fabry disease, so check with a healthcare provider if you are concerned.
Lymphoceles are a product of blockages in the lymph channels after sex or masturbation. They’re a common side effect of having surgery for prostate conditions, such as prostate removal (prostatectomy). This can cause lymph channels to get blocked and may result in other symptoms, such as a UTI and pelvic pain.
Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can result in lumps or bumps and are transmitted during (usually) unprotected sexual contact. Lump-causing sexually transmitted infections include genital herpes, syphilis, genital warts, and molluscum contagiosum.
The most common cause of multiple penis ulcers is the herpes virus.
When your immune system attacks your own skin cells and a rash appears, that is called lichen planus. Lichen planus can cause purplish bumps, itchiness, blisters that scab, white lesions in the mouth, and thin white lines over the rash.
Penis ulcers result in open sores with pus in the center. Multiple ulcers are common and potentially less serious than a singular ulcer which should be checked by a healthcare professional.
“A lump or sore on the foreskin, glans, or shaft of the penis that doesn’t go away after two weeks” can be a symptom of penile cancer. Do not jump to the conclusion that any bumps are penile cancer.
If you are concerned about bumps on your or someone else’s penis, two steps that you can take include seeing a healthcare provider and getting tested for STIs. A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan and, if necessary, prescribe medication. It's crucial to monitor any changes in your genital area. Early detection and proper treatment are essential for addressing any potential issues and maintaining your overall health. Consider the Everlywell option for STD treatment online via telehealth.