If you notice a rash or blemish on your penis, you can jump right into the worst case scenario. Cancer of the penis or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) may be the first thing that comes to mind.
In most cases, an abnormal spot or lump on the penis is not serious. However, it is important to consult a doctor. These are some of the reasons your healthcare provider might be looking for you.
This article looks at some of the causes of penis rashes and blemishes, including infectious and non-infectious conditions.
Non-infectious causes of spots on the penis.
Non-infectious means that you cannot get infected or pass it on to anyone. These conditions are usually less serious. However, you should not ignore your condition just because it is not contagious.
Any of these conditions can cause scarring on the penis. Redness, cracks in the skin, and sore spots may appear.
Uncircumcised penises are more prone to scarring. Scars can make it difficult to retract the foreskin. This is a condition known as phimosis .
Inflamed hair follicles
The hair follicle is the bulbous structure of the skin from which hair grows. Inflamed hair follicles, also called folliculitis , look like little bumps. They can appear under the skin of the scrotum or at the base of the shaft of the penis. They can be irritating but generally not harmful.
This condition can have several causes, including:
- Harsh chemicals such as fragrances in laundry detergents.
- Abrasion, such as from clothing that rubs the skin.
- Allergies Your Healthcare Provider Can Help Identify
Pearly penile papules
The domed or jagged bumps that appear around the glans or glans of the penis may be angiofibromas . They are also known as pearly penile papules.
These lumps are more common in uncircumcised penises. They are not contagious and do not require treatment. If they are large, they can be removed for cosmetic reasons.
Angiokeratomas are small red or blue spots. They can appear only on the head of the penis or spread to the scrotum, groin, and thighs. The spots are not contagious and do not require treatment.
Sometimes these spots can cause pain or bleeding. When this happens, they can be treated with laser therapy. Electrodesiccation , a procedure in which stains are scraped or burned, can also be used.
Psoriasis is a non-communicable skin disease. It can appear anywhere on the body. On the penis, it may look like a red or salmon colored spot with white or silver scales.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease . When you have psoriasis, your immune system attacks skin cells in different parts of your body.
Psoriasis can often be treated with topical corticosteroids . These drugs are applied to the skin and prevent your immune system from attacking your skin. Oral medications can also help.
Lichen sclerosus is a common skin disorder. About one in 300 men will develop this condition at some point in their lives.
Lichen sclerosus causes a whitish, wrinkled lesion, usually around or under the glans of the penis. The cause is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by an overactive immune system.
These lesions can often be treated with topical corticosteroids. Large lesions or those that do not respond to treatment may need to be surgically removed.
Lichen sclerosus is associated with a 4% to 5% cancer risk. You must be on the lookout for incurable injuries.
Lichen planus is a rare skin disorder. It is characterized by raised flat purple tubercles on the glans penis. The tubers sometimes have small white stripes and a smooth surface.
The lesions usually appear as a ring or a line. They may or may not sting.
Lichen planus can affect other parts of the body, including:
- Inside the cheeks
The condition is not contagious. The lesions can usually be treated with topical corticosteroids.
It is not known why, but lichen planus affects people with hepatitis C five times more often than people without it.
Eczema is a chronic skin disease. People with eczema have itchy, red, dry, and cracked skin. An eczema flare can occur anywhere on the body.
Eczema is generally caused by an overactive immune system. It can be treated with topical corticosteroids. Prescription drugs can also help.
Lifestyle changes can help you avoid eczema flare-ups. Wear loose clothing and avoid harsh chemicals.
Non-infectious causes of penile blemishes are usually less serious. However, they must be examined by a doctor. Many of these conditions can be treated with topical corticosteroids or prescription drugs.
Infectious causes of the appearance of spots on the penis.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a highly contagious sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is also known as genital warts.
HPV is transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can also be transmitted through skin-to-skin sexual contact, such as mutual masturbation.
In men, HPV warts can develop in the following places:
- On the penis
- Around the anus
- In the throat
- Inside the rectum
In most cases, the HPV infection goes away on its own. In a small group of people, a wart can turn into cancer. Some strains of HPV are more likely to cause cancer than others.
Topical solutions can help gradually remove the wart. The doctor may also cut, freeze, or burn the wart.
Gay or bisexual people with HPV have a higher risk of cancer. People in this group who have genital warts or have had them in the past should consider having an anal Pap test to screen for cancer.
Syphilis is an STI. It can be contracted by touching a syphilitic ulcer during sexual intercourse.
The pain is usually a circular injury that is painless. It is usually a peptic ulcer, which means the loss of superficial tissue.
You may see pain in the penis or around the anus. Invisible sores can also develop in the rectum, mouth, or throat.
The disease is the first symptom of primary syphilis or stage 1 syphilis. If left untreated, it can progress to more serious forms called secondary and tertiary syphilis. This can take months or years.
Syphilis can be diagnosed with a blood test. A biopsy, a procedure in which a small sample is taken from a lesion, can also be used to diagnose disease.
Syphilis can be treated with a single dose of benzathine-penicillin, an antibiotic. The medicine is injected into a muscle, usually the buttocks.
If syphilis spreads, it can cause long-term damage to the body. In later stages, it can even affect the nervous system. If you have been diagnosed with syphilis, it is important to start treatment right away.
The infection causes small blisters to form. These blisters turn into painful sores. The first episode of herpes usually causes severe pain and flu symptoms. Later episodes are usually milder.
Herpes can be transmitted during the prodromal phase and the active phase. The prodromal phase occurs just before the outbreak. This phase is characterized by burning, tingling, or itching. Blisters are present during the active phase.
In some cases, contact with herpes during oral sex can cause genital herpes. There is also evidence that herpes can be transmitted by people without symptoms. It is better to use a condom to avoid transmission.
Herpes cannot be cured. Antiviral medications can reduce the risk of relapse. They can also make active outbreaks less severe.
Certain external factors, such as stress, can also increase the risk of relapse. If you have active herpes sores, it is important to avoid sexual intercourse until the blisters have completely healed.
Molluscum contagiosum is a common viral disease. It can appear anywhere on the body, including the penis. It is easily transmitted through sexual contact or other direct skin-to-skin contact.
Transmission can also occur when you share towels, clothing, sports mats, and personal care items. People with weakened immune systems, such as people with advanced HIV , are especially susceptible to infection.
Molluscum contagiosum looks like hard, domed bumps with a dimple in the middle. They are usually flesh-colored. They can appear on the genitals and inner thighs, but are also common on the face, neck, armpits, arms, hands, and abdomen.
The bumps are usually painless. They can itch and turn bright red when combed.
The infection usually clears up on its own, but it can take a long time. The bumps usually disappear after six to twelve months, but can last up to four years.
Some people choose to remove the bumps for cosmetic reasons. Eliminating them also reduces the risk of transmission. Topical creams that contain retinoids can sometimes help.
Most infectious causes of penile blemishes are sexually transmitted. These conditions generally require treatment. See your doctor immediately to avoid long-term problems and not pass them on to someone else.
Penile cancer is a much less common cause of penile injury. Penile cancer affects only about 2,200 Americans a year.
The initial or precancerous stage is called carcinoma in situ of the penis. At this stage, the lesion is usually red and has a velvety texture.
Almost 95% of all penile cancers are squamous cell carcinomas . These tumors grow slowly. They usually appear as flat skin lesions on the head or foreskin.
Verrucous carcinoma is a less common type of squamous cell carcinoma. It also grows slowly and can look like a large wart.
Melanoma of the penis is the most dangerous type. It is developing rapidly. Lesions are purple, brown, or black.
With early treatment, most cases of penile cancer can be cured. Delaying treatment can be dangerous. As the cancer grows, more aggressive treatment may be required. This can include partial or complete removal of the penis .
There are many possible causes of a rash or growth on the penis. Noncommunicable conditions are usually less serious. These conditions can often be treated with surgery or topical corticosteroids.
Infectious conditions generally require treatment. Most infectious diseases are sexually transmitted. They may need antibiotic treatment. Some of these may need to be removed by a doctor.
In rare cases, the injury to the penis can be malignant. With early treatment, most cases of penile cancer can be cured. This is why it is so important to see your doctor for unusual spots, bumps, or rashes on the penis.
Get the word of drug information
These are just some of the possible causes of a rash or growth on the penis. This is why self-diagnosis is never a good idea. Early medical attention can prevent serious problems. You will also reduce the risk of transmitting infections to other people.
If the idea of discussing your penis with your doctor bothers you, it may help to call first. Don't wait to seek treatment. There should never be any embarrassment between you and the diagnosis.