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What Can Cause Penis Pimples?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Penis pimples can cause anxiety and fear among those who develop these tiny bumps, although there is no great cause for concern in most cases. Some of the most common causes of penis pimples include acne, pearly penile papules, and Fordyce spots. Sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, herpes, or genital warts may cause small bumps that resemble pimples to appear on the penis. The molluscum contagiosum virus is a relatively uncommon condition that can cause the development of small bumps on the penis. A doctor should be consulted any time that penis pimples appear in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment plan.

Acne can affect any part of the skin, including the penis. It is important to refrain from popping or rupturing these penis pimples, as infection or scarring may occur. Many reported cases of pimples on the penis are actually pearly penile papules. These small bumps usually form a circle around the head of the penis and are often described as resembling a string of pearls. While there are no significant health risks associated with these bumps, some men choose to have them removed by a doctor to avoid embarrassment.

Fordyce spots are caused by the exaggerated growth of sebaceous glands or inflamed blood vessels and often present as several small bumps on the shaft of the penis. These bumps are not contagious or infectious and do not pose any risks to the health of the affected person or any sexual partners. There is no standard treatment for this condition, and the bumps may come and go throughout the life of the affected male.

Syphilis, herpes, and genital warts are possible causes of penis pimples. There is usually only one lesion on the penis in the early stages of syphilis, although a red or brown rash may develop in later stages of the disease. Herpes causes one or more small bumps that resemble blisters and may cause pain or itching during outbreaks. Genital warts are small, flesh-colored bumps that often appear in clusters and do not cause pain or other symptoms in most cases.

The molluscum contagiosum virus is characterized by small, flesh-colored papules that may develop a hardened white center. This virus can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person, although it can also be transferred through the sharing of clothing or towels. The lesions caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus often disappear on their own, but they can also be removed by a physician if desired by the patient.

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Discussion Comments
By SeanH — On Aug 12, 2015

Fordyce spots are totally normal and common. The bigger problem is dry, rough or flaky penis skin. Stuff like this can put a lid on one's sex life in a hurry. Thankfully, there are penis health cremes available that help keep the penis skin healthy and smooth. Simply apply a good creme once a day and you will be all set. Really good stuff.

By lightninguy — On May 02, 2014

Often penis pimples develop due to the accumulation of sweat and dirt that comes from keeping the penis in a hot environment. It also doesn't help that penis skin is very thin and therefore reacts easily to irritants. One thing that often helps with simple penis pimples is to regularly apply a quality penis vitamin cream (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) regularly). A combination of quality hydrators (like shea butter) and a powerful antioxidant like alpha lipoic acid can help eliminate these common penis skin issues.

By anon353976 — On Nov 04, 2013

Men have them removed because they are afraid that their short-term partners won't accept it and freak out on seeing them. Those who are with understanding long term partners probably couldn't care less.

By anon348779 — On Sep 20, 2013

Men have penile papules removed because most women scream STD when they see these strange growth on the penis.

To be sure, see a doctor, as they may be symptoms of venereal diseases.

By anon274553 — On Jun 12, 2012

They get annoying as hell! I have them located around the head of my penis, really neat and weird looking. I was in the military and the doctor there actually explained the situation to me just because I didn't even notice them on myself (virgin moment). But he told me I may be happier just not even bothering them, due to damaging and scarring the sensitive tissue on my penis.

He also told me to try and keep my penis from chafing too much, rubbing, friction... He said avoid excessive masturbating.

By pleonasm — On Apr 03, 2012

@Iluviaporos - The problem is if you have people thinking they can diagnose someone by looking at a pimple you will quickly get a lot of misdiagnoses and that can be dangerous.

And a lot of STDs don't show up at all, so people shouldn't be thinking if there is nothing visible on the genitals of their sex partner that they are safe.

Not to mention people not going to a doctor when something appears because they think it's a benign condition. As it says in the article, you really need a doctor to make that diagnosis for you. There's no good thinking you just have a case of pearly penile papules when it's actually some kind of disease that could harm you or spread to other people.

Frankly, I think people should refrain from full, unprotected sex until they know that the other person is clean, and that means a medical certificate. In this day and age it doesn't seem like too much to ask.

By lluviaporos — On Apr 03, 2012

@indigomoth - The problem is that people don't think of genitals as something that you really look at or think about until something goes wrong.

We get maybe one sex health class in school if we are lucky and that's it. So, men are never taught to identify what bumps or pimples on their genitals might be, and women are taught that even less.

Which is actually a really bad idea because often those pimples might be a sign that the person has a disease, and just as often they might mean nothing. If women (and men) could identify signs of disease they'd be less likely to catch something from their partner, and for that matter, less likely to freak out if it is a benign condition.

By indigomoth — On Apr 02, 2012

I don't understand why men have pearly penile papules removed. I mean, I guess I can see why they might be worried that women think they have a disease. But they don't really look like a disease and they seem to be quite common.

I guess, I just think of them as something like freckles.

A lot of people would prefer not to have freckles and might even think of them as a blemish, but really they are just a different kind of skin, and some people might even like the look of them.

I've heard that some researchers think that pearly penile papules might be from when our ancestors had spines on their penises.

That strikes me as pretty cool, actually. Doesn't seem like the kind of thing you have genital surgery to remove.

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