What can cause pimples on the penis and how to treat them

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Pimples on the penis are similar to pimples, can appear at any age and, most of the time, are related to benign problems

Since they create an alteration in the image of the penis, they generate anxiety in men, as they can be interpreted as a sign of cancer; and although cancer can cause this type of symptom, it is not its cause in most cases.

Proper understanding of the origin of penile pimples will lead to appropriate treatment. Their multiple causes and how to treat them are discussed below.

Causes of male genital pimples

The penis is surrounded by thin, slippery skin, which makes it susceptible. The foreskin is the part of the skin that covers the glans penis.

It is precisely the glans penis that is affected by penile pimples. It has two parts: an apex, where the orifice for urination and ejaculation is located, and a base which is called the crown of the glans penis

There are many possible origins for male genital pimples, which can range from sexually transmitted infections, allergies and autoimmune disorders.

Some of the most common causes of penile pimples are discussed below.

Pearly papules

Also known as Tyson’s glands, these are small, painless, white, pimple-like bumps that appear underneath the head of the penis

This papule is a combined formation of tiny blood vessels and fibrous tissue. They are neither infectious nor malignant.

Fordyce pimples

These are a very common and benign condition that causes small white bumps to appear on the head and shaft of the penis

It is not related to any type of sexually transmitted disease. Generally, they are more frequent during adolescence, due to hormonal alterations, although they can appear at any age


It is a type of hard pimple that can appear on the shaft of the penis, especially after sexual contact. This happens when the lymphatic system is not able to remove fluids from the penis due to swelling after erection, as it closes the lymphatic pathways

The lymphocele usually disappears a few minutes or hours after its onset.

Peyronie’s disease

Peyronie’s disease can cause the development of hard plaques on the shaft of the penis, which manifest as a kind of hard pimple on the side of the penis

Apart from this, it is commonly accompanied by other symptoms such as painful erection or curving of the penis during erection.

Lichen planus

This is an inflammation of the skin that causes the appearance of small red balls or pimples that are quite itchy

The cause of this problem is not known for sure, fortunately in most cases it disappears on its own after a few weeks, although it may resurface over time

Cancer of the penis

It is considered a rare type of cancer, which can cause pimples or sores to appear, especially on the head of the penis

This type of cancer is more frequent in men over 60 years of age or in smokers, often due to inadequate hygiene of the region, although it can also arise from inadequate exposure to ultraviolet radiation and irritants.

Genital warts

They are caused by the HPV virus that causes alterations in the skin of the penis, making it rough and rough to the touch

These warts can vary in size. They are usually painless and can be seen with the naked eye.

Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin infection caused by a virus that can appear anywhere on the body, including the penis. It is characterized by the presence of small firm bumps, which may have a small spot of white fluid in the center.

When it appears in the genital region, it is considered a sexually transmitted disease. Fortunately, the lesions usually improve on their own within a few months.

Diagnosis of male genital pimples

The diagnostic process may include these procedures:

  • Physical examination. The doctor looks at the characteristics of the rash, including lesions or warts
  • Biopsies. A biopsy is ordered, where part of a wart, lesion or skin cells are scraped or removed. That tissue from the scraping is examined under a microscope
  • Blood tests. Some causes of genital pimples, such as herpes and syphilis, can be detected by blood tests.

Treatments for male genital pimples

The treatment applied for male genital pimples depends on the underlying cause. The following are the most common medical indications:

  • Pearly papules. Usually no treatment is necessary. However, the urologist may recommend cryotherapy or cauterization treatments
  • Fordyce pimples. Treatment may include various techniques such as the use of tretinoin gel, prescribed by the urologist, or the use of lasers to remove the pimples
  • Lymphocele. Since it is a benign alteration that disappears by itself, it does not require any type of medical treatment. However, to drain the fluid quickly, the lump can be massaged
  • Peyronie’s disease. The urologist may indicate the use of collagenase or verapamil injections directly on the pimple to reduce the process that is causing its growth.
  • Lichen planus. Corticosteroids in the form of ointments or creams are used, although, the physician may also prescribe the use of an antihistamine, particularly if there is a lot of itching.
  • Cancer of the penis. Almost always begins with surgery to remove as many of the cancer cells as possible, followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Genital warts. Ointments such as podophyllin can be used. They can also be removed by freezing with liquid nitrogen or surgically removed.

how can pimples on the penis be prevented?

Prevention of male genital pimples requires a set of measures, such as:

  • Using barrier methods, such as condoms.
  • Taking medications to control pre-existing conditions such as herpes.
  • Taking antihistamines when at increased risk.
  • Avoiding allergens that trigger allergic reactions.

Pimples on the penis in most cases do not pose major problems. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can boost your immune system and help you fight off any infections that may cause them.

Marta Aguilar Vera
Marta Aguilar Verahttps://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/g/11rclwp2s1
Degree in Sexology from the University of Oxford and Master's Degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Doctorate in Sexology and committed to people's sexual health.

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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