Causes For Bumps On The Penis
Bumps on or around the penis are common and can be caused by a variety of skin conditions, allergies, external factors, or STDs. While the appearance of bumps on the penis can be alarming, there are several non-STD related reasons for having bumps on the penis. However, the only way to know for sure whether or not you have an STD is to get tested.
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In this segment, STDAware presents the most common causes for bumps on the penis. The information will be presented in two sections. First, the various signs and symptoms associated with benign, non-STD related pimples on the penis. And second, the signs and symptoms that are related to STDs, and could have severely damaging effects on an individual’s health and longevity.
Non-STD Causes Of Bumps On The Penis
Skin problems such as bumps and rashes are common for a lot of people. The skin can become irritated by both internal and external factors resulting in a wide variety of skin issues. Additionally, the skin’s composition varies by the part of the body it is found on. For instance, the skin of the elbows and knees is very different than the skin found around the eyes, in the mouth or around the genitals. While the skin on the majority of the body is thick and relatively resilient, the skin around the genitals or other mucous membranes is thin and more at risk for irritation and infection.
When considering bumps on the penis, one should note the size, texture, number of bumps, and whether or not there are rapid changes to the appearance or number of bumps in a specific area. While it is not uncommon to have a non-STD related bump on the penis, it is important to note that bumps found on the penis are a significant indicator of an STD even in the absence of any other visible signs or symptoms.
The most common non-STD related causes for bumps on the penis include:
- It’s Just Your Skin: The skin of the penis is sometimes naturally bumpy, and when cold, the follicles can tighten and result in “goose bumps” on the penis, testicles, the inner thigh, and groin.
- Poor Hygiene: Not maintaining proper hygiene can cause the small pores on the penis to become clogged and result in one or more “fleshy” bumps. This type of “bump” can occur anywhere on the body, including the penis and scrotum, if not properly and regularly cleaned. With proper washing and care, bumps should subside within a few days.
- Folliculitis: This condition exists when a hair follicle is infected and creates an inflamed bump around the hair shaft. Folliculitis bumps can be purplish or yellow happen when an oil gland is clogged. With proper hygiene and patience, they should subside within a few days without any treatment.
- Razor Burn: These are bumps that arise after shaving due to infected or ingrown hairs. This bumpy rash will go away within a few days, without any treatment.
- Staph Infection: An infections caused by staph bacteria is a serious condition. It will often start off as a small white or skin colored bump but will rapidly grow and become red and inflamed. It can infect the surrounding skin and internal organs and should be treated as quickly as possible. While not classified as an STD, it is contagious. Treatment with antibiotics is necessary for a staph infection.
- Papiloma hirsutoide also known as Pearly Penile Papules: These are small, non-contagious, benign, harmless growths, which vary in size and color between individuals, but all the papules on a specific individual will look the same. They often appear as one or two rings of semi-spherical bumps around the base of the "head" of the penis. While they do not present any health risk and can be left alone, they are often treated for cosmetic reasons.
- Sebaeous Cyst/Sebum Cyst: These are small noncancerous bumps that can appear anywhere on the skin but are most common on the face, neck, and trunk. They arise around the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum, the oil that lubricates the hair and skin. They are harmless but can cause discomfort and itching.
- Other Skin Cysts: These are nodules or soft, pus-filled bumps that occur on the skin from blocked pores and will typically resolve on their own but can be painful.
- Fordyce Spots: These are white, yellowish or red bumps, which occur on the edge of your lips, inside your cheeks, or on your penis or scrotum. They are enlarged oil glands where there is no hair attached. While their appearance can be concerning, they are harmless and noncontagious. They do not require treatment but may be addressed for cosmetic purposes.
- Allergic Reaction: Allergies to latex condoms, laundry detergent, and certain foods or other external factors, can result in bumps and rashes on the penis. If an allergy is suspected, the suspected irritant should be avoided for 1-6 weeks. If the irritation persists or gets worse, there may be a more significant medical concern and STD testing should be considered.
While many non-STD related conditions result in bumps and pimples on the penis the only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested. If you have a bump or a pimple on your penis and it does not go away, or changes in size or color, it is highly recommended that you get tested for STDs.
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STD Causes Of Bumps On The Penis
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are diseases transferred most commonly through sexual activity (vaginal, anal, oral, manual sex), but can also be transmitted via intravenous drug use and are sometimes passed from mother to infant during childbirth. Different STDs have varying methods of transmission and are highly contagious.
While STDs very often have no signs or symptoms, they may also have a wide variety of symptoms. One of the main symptoms of an STD in males is the presence of bumps or pimples on the penis.
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus): HPV is a group of low and high-risk viruses that comprises more than 150 strains. The low-risk strains may result in genital warts, while the higher risk strains can lead to cancers of the anus, throat, and penis (in women can lead to cervical and uterine cancer). Genital warts are in the same family of diseases as chicken pox and are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, oral, anal, and vaginal sex. HPV “bumps” can appear flat or raised and are white or flesh in color. Generally, they do not itch and do not cause pain. Skin that is abraded or cut is especially susceptible to HPV infection. Mucus membranes of the penis, vagina, anus, throat, mouth, and eyes, are made up of several layers of thin skin and therefore most commonly at risk. Transmission of warts from the hands to the genitals is possible. Genital warts cannot be cured, but treatment is available to reduce or eliminate the presence of warts. The presence of genital warts could be an indicator of having another STD or medical condition that causes the immune system to be compromised. Be aware that HPV can be spread even in the absence of visible warts.
- Genital herpes (HSV-2): is transmitted through direct contact with the mouth or genitals of an infected person. Symptoms can occur between two days and two weeks after infection. Symptoms include blisters or pimple type bumps on and around the anus, buttocks or penis. Herpes is a viral condition that cannot be cured and persists in the body. Many effective treatments can reduce or eliminate herpes outbreaks, but herpes can be spread even in the absence of physical symptoms (pimples, sores, and skin ulcers). While HSV-2 is primarily responsible for herpes infections on the genitals, the oral version of herpes (HSV-1) that is generally responsible for cold sores and fever blisters on or around the mouth, has, in recent studies, been found on the genitals as well. To read more about the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2, click here.
- Molluscum Contagiosum Virus (MCV): This is a viral infection that results in small, firm, painless lesions or bumps that appear alone or in a patch one week to 6 months after initial infection. Bumps can be pink, red, skin-colored, or yellow in appearance and will generally have a “waxy” and lighter colored center. It is most commonly found in children but has become classified as an STD in recent years. MCV bumps can be itchy and may become infected if scratched. Left untreated the bumps will go away but can take anywhere from 6 months to 4 years. Clinical treatment can aid in the removal of MCV lesions.
- Syphilis – Stage 1: Syphilis is a bacterial disease and can result in serious health complications if left untreated. There are four phases of a syphilis infection, and each stage has its own set of symptoms. Stage 1 of syphilis is generally characterized by a small, firm, skin-colored, painless “bump” at or around the point of infection (where the bacteria entered the body) usually on the penis, anus, mouth or lips. The appearance of lesions due to a syphilis infection will most likely occur within one week to 90 days after the initial infection. Syphilis “pimples” will rapidly disappear after they make an appearance, which makes it easy to mistake for a benign pimple. If you have had a change in sexual partners or behaviors, it is vital to be tested for syphilis and other STDs.
The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested. If you or your partner are experiencing any suspicious symptoms, getting tested as quickly as possible is a vital part of early identification of an STD. In general, the more quickly an STD is identified the easier it is to treat and manage. STDAware offers no-cost physician consultation and treatment options for anyone who tests positive for having an STD. To Learn more about the prescription services offered by STDAware, click here.
Any sexually active individual should be tested for STDs on a routine basis, or anytime there is a change in sexual partners or habits. One of the best defenses against the spread of STDs is for both partners to be tested before initiating a sexual relationship. Proactive and pre-emptive testing ensures that any existing STD can be treated or managed to prevent further infection.
Routine STD Testing, Education, and Awareness Can Reduce The Spread Of STDs
The widespread nature of STDs is partly due to their ability to be spread quickly and unknowingly because there are no symptoms but also partially due to lack of education and awareness about what STDs are and how to deal with them. STDAware has created and improved the means of testing and has made access to no-cost resources available on their website to help educate and empower individuals to take charge of their sexual health. Click here to explore the resources and services offered by STDAware.
No one wants to get an STD. Knowing your body and taking charge of your health are crucial factors in your sexual health as well as overall well-being. Routine testing along with open and mature conversations with any sexual partner(s) can prevent and reduce the spread of STDs.
Getting tested for STDs is a first step in taking charge of your sexual health. With over 4,000 testing locations, nationwide, STDAware makes getting tested simple, fast, and accessible. Receive test results within 1-2 days. Testing information and results are 100% secure. Learn more about how to get tested at STDAware by clicking here.
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