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Pimples on Penis

by Dr. Joe Morales

A small pimple on the penis can be painful, itchy or filled with pus. In most cases, a bump or a pimple on the penile shaft is harmless.

The causes include acne on the penis or male genital area, shave bumps, a rash from irritation or an infection, including STDs. Here are the causes and treatments to get rid of penile bumps, zits, acne cysts, and pimples.

The genital area is very sensitive. It is normal to get worried when you see signs such as cysts, bumps and lumps on penis shaft or head. Is it normal to have a zit in the genital area? Everybody suffers a pimple around the pubic region at some point in their life. Most of these signs are harmless and should go away on their own with time. But what causes pimples on the penile shaft?


What causes penis pimples and bumps?

Fordyce spots, folliculitis, STDs, genital warts, sores and even cancer can cause those small zits and bumps on the penis. Knowing what caused the lumps can help understand how to get rid of the problem. Here are the most common causes of penile pimples, zits, cysts, and lumps.

1. Fordyce spots on penis

Fordyce spots can appear as white bumps, pale red or yellowish bumps on the skin. According to Sexinfo Online, Fordyce spots are not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) although it is easy to mistaken their appearance with some symptoms of an STD.

The most common areas where Fordyce spots appear include the penis area – generally the shaft, the head and even the scrotum – and the female labia. These spots will appear as a cluster of small pimples or papules. Therefore, those small white pimples on penis head and shaft are likely to be Fordyce spots.

2. Folliculitis and white bumps on penis

Folliculitis is the infection of hair follicles. The infection is usually caused by either a fungus or bacteria. This infection is common in the public area, especially if your genital hygiene is not so good.

According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, folliculitis is coon at the base of the penis and will appear as “a pustule around the hair follicle, which is frequently itchy and sometimes painful.” The symptoms of folliculitis white bumps that appear at the base of the penile shaft should not be confused with symptoms of herpes simplex virus (HSV).

3. Tyson glands under the penile frenulum

Tyson glands are simply sebaceous glands that appear under the penis head. They are usually called pimples on the penis or under the penile head or corona because they appear as small white bumps that are pus-filled. Another name for Tyson glands is preputial glands. These tiny whitish yellow pimples on the penis are not harmful and should not cause you any worry.

4. Pearly penile papules

The ridge on the penile glans can have tiny lumps that may appear as pimples forming a line around the penis head. These small pimples on the penis can appear in multiple rows or on just a single row around the corona. They are called pearly penile papules (PPP).

PPPs are normally mistaken for genital warts in men because of their consistency and symmetrical dome shapes. Research has shown that pearly penile papules occur in approximately 20% of men. The Channel for Embarrassing Illnesses notes that there is no known cause of these bumps and that there is “absolutely nothing to worry about as they pose no health risks and will not cause any pain or irritation.”

5. Lymphocele lump on penis

A hard pimple on the penis or penile shaft is likely to be a lymphocele. Hard spots or bumps normally occur after sex or vigorous masturbation that causes deep bruises. Lymphoceles are not a serious problem but occur as a result of a blockage or swelling of the lymph system on the penile shaft.

Some sources, however, indicate that lymphoceles may occur in some cases of STIs such as syphilis and gonorrhea. In this case, it is advisable to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment. Otherwise, the thrombosed lymph vessels will restore their flow on their own and the lymphocele pimple on the penile shaft will go away.

6. A pimple on penis STDs and Genital Herpes and Warts

In some instances, small or even big pimples on the penile head or shaft can be caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Genital warts appear as small fleshy growths that are caused by an STI called human papillomavirus (HPV).

  • Genital warts can be painful, itchy and a major source of discomfort.
  • Some types of HPV can cause cancer, especially in women.
  • Itchy pimples on the penis, groin, scrotum, inner thighs and anus are commonly associated with genital warts.
  • The symptoms may spread to other parts of the body, such as lips, tongue, throat, and mouth.

7. A pimple on penis head from a staph infection

A pimple on the penile head can be caused by a staph infection. According to STD Check, staph infections are not very common in the genital area but can occur since the staphylococcus bacteria is carried by 25 percent of people.

Any tiny nicks and cuts from bruising can be caused by this bacterial infection and lead to pimples, zits and cysts can cause the infection to develop in the pubic region. Pus-filled pimples and zits that keep growing are common symptoms of a staph infection on the skin.

8. A pimple on the penile shaft from Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that affects the skin. It causes round, hard bumps the size of a pinhead on the skin. These bumps can grow into the size of a pencil eraser. Molluscum contagiosum pimples on the penile shaft can affect both children and adults alike.

According to Mayo Clinic, its bumps on the penile shaft are considered a sexually transmitted disease. It is spread through direct contact on the skin. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the lesions or Mollusca can form on the penis and may appear as “white, pink, or flesh-colored with a dimple or pit in the center. They often have a pearly appearance. They’re usually smooth and firm.”

9. Acne on the penis, zits, and whiteheads

It is not common to have acne on the penis, but it happens. Acne on the penile shaft is likely to manifest as small white spots on the penis or red pimples if they are inflamed. The resultant zits and cysts become infected and may feel painful.

Acne zits and whiteheads are common during puberty. If you have an oily acne-prone skin, you are likely to get one red bump on your pubic area. Acne zits and whiteheads are more common on the face, upper arms, chin, neck, shoulders, chest, and back.

  • See a doctor to determine if it is indeed acne or not.
  • Only then will proper medication or treatment for the acne will be recommended.
  • Avoid popping acne on penis shaft. This can lead to a bacterial infection as the bacteria in the cyst can infect the entire genital region.

10. A cancer and big pimple on the penis

Penile cancer is very rare. When it starts to show signs, you are likely to see small pimple-like bumps on the shaft. The sore lump can be a source of discomfort and could keep growing. The most common area it affects is the head of the penis. The signs and symptoms of penile cancer include:

  • A persistent rash on your penis that appears velvety or red
  • Bluish brown growths with a flat top.
  • Change in the skin color around your penis.
  • Phimosis, which is the difficulty of drawing back the foreskin due to a thickened skin.
  • A stinky discharge.
  • Crusty bumps
  • Bleeding sore or ulcer on the genitals.
  • A growth, big pimple or sore bump on the penis that won’t heal within four weeks.

These signs do not necessarily mean you have penile cancer, but it is important to have them checked by your doctor as soon as possible.

11. Peyronie’s disease

The Peyronie’s disease is also called the induration penis plastic. It shows symptoms such as the penis being curved when erect. A lump on the shaft can be felt. Sometimes, the patient will complain of a thickened area that feels like plaque on the shaft of the penis. Peyronie’s disease can cause a lot of pain when erect, stress and anxiety.

Painful Red Pimple on Penis

What causes a painful pimple on penis? Pain usually comes from irritation. An irritated pimple or acne zit is likely to become sore and even itchier. A red pimple on penile shaft can be a source of discomfort and hurt.

Therefore, it is strongly advised that you prevent picking, scratching and trying to pop a pimple on your penis. Inflamed acne zits and cysts can easily cause an infection to spread and cause even further infections. Irritation can come from other problems such as poor hygiene, fungal infections such as jock itch etc. See a doctor as soon as possible if the bumps hurt.

Itchy and Big Pimples, Zits on Penis

Bumps that keep growing big and feel itchy on the genital area should be taken to the doctor immediately. Itchy rashes are likely a sign of a fungal infection. Zits that start to grow into large cysts could be an indication of a staph infection that is spreading.

Lichen planus is also a common cause of pimple-like rashes on the penile shaft, head, and base. This condition is not infectious and can also affect other parts of the body. Symptoms of lichen planus on the male genitals include the following:

  • A non-itchy rash
  • Papules or shiny bumps with flat tops
  • Purple or whitish, ring-shaped patches on the tip of your penis or glans

Sores can easily expand into large ulcers or cysts. These mostly occur after rough or vigorous sex. They are likely to scab over when healing and become itchy. Avoid trying home remedies for pimples on male genitalia even when you think you just have sores.

Treatment to Getting Rid of Pimples on Penis

How do you get rid of penile pimples, zits, cysts, acne, and bumps? Avoid DIY treatments unless you are sure of what you are dealing with. Most treatments will include antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals. Your doctor will give the appropriate medication depending on the underlying cause of the problem. Here are some of the possible cures of penile bumps and pimples.

  1. Fordyce spots are generally considered a normal occurrence on the skin and should be left to clear on their own. However, if the need for treatment arises, dermatologists recommend the use of pulsed dye lasers, electrodesiccation or micro-punch techniques to remove Fordyce spots on the penile skin.
  2. Pearly penile papules are a normal occurrence on the penis and should not require any form of treatment. The same applies for Tyson glands that appear as yellow pimples or white bumps on penis head.
  3. Lichen planus cannot be cured completely. You can, however, use management treatments. These will help manage its symptoms and irritations. Steroid creams and ointments are prescribed to control the rash on the penis and relieve the itchy bumps.
  4. Anti-acne medications such as salicylic acid can help reduce whiteheads and acne zits in the pubic region.
  5. You can prevent razor bumps on the penis with proper shaving techniques and change your hair removal methods. If the bumps are itchy, anti-itch medications applied topically will reduce the irritation.

If you suspect that you have a bump on your penis caused by cancer, see a doctor as soon as possible. Cancer can be prevented from spreading when treatment is started early enough.

Video on How to Remove Pimples and Acne Bumps on Penis

Sources and References

  1. SexInfo Online: Fordyce Spots on Lips, Penis and Labia
  2. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners: Penile appearance, lumps and bumps
  3. Embarrassing Bodies: Pearly Penile Papules
  4. Wikipedia: Preputial Gland
  5. com: What is a lymphocele?
  6. Geniderm: Lump on Penis: Lymphocele
  7. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Molluscum contagiosum hard bumps on penis
  8. The American Cancer Society: Penile Cancer Symptoms
  9. Mayo Clinic: Peyronie’s disease
  10. NHS Choices: Lichen Planus on Penis

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