6 Penis Conditions Could Be Causing That Rash or Growth
A rash, growth or lump on your penis. Yikes. That's not what anyone wants to see or feel.
But before you jump to any conclusions, know that such symptoms can be due to several penis conditions, including genital psoriasis, balanitis, HPV and penile cancer. Any of these conditions (and others) can be the reason your penis has a sore, growth, rash, wart or all of the above.
Given the many reasons you could be experiencing an abnormality on your penis, it won't help to check Google or come to conclusions on your own. Delaying a trip to the doctor can make your symptoms and diagnosis worse.
Learn more about when you should seek medical attention, according to the experts.
Typically caused by a yeast infection, balanitis often occurs when the foreskin traps moisture and develops bacteria or fungus. People without a foreskin can get balanitis, but it is less common.
"This is when inflammation, redness and irritation appear on the head of the penis, most often seen in uncircumcised penises. It is often caused by yeast infections but can be caused by bacteria and viruses," said Denise Asafu-Adjei, M.D., the medical director of male reproductive medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "This is not contagious or precancerous. A topical cream can easily cure this."
Balanitis may cause pain with urination or produce an unpleasant odor and thick discharge under your foreskin, but it can be prevented with proper hygiene and easily treated.
2. Genital herpes
Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is mainly sexually transmitted and causes genital herpes, typically appearing as a cluster of blisters or sores on your penis and/or anus.
"It is marked by painful multiple vesicular or ulcerative lesions with a reddish/erythematous base," Asafu-Adjei explained. "Treatment can help to treat the lesions of this lifelong infection and reduce recurrences but will not cure herpes. Besides outbreaks being annoying, it is not a precancerous condition."
Treatment for this penis condition may include anti-herpes medicine, which can shorten the outbreaks and make it less likely you will pass the infection to your sexual partner(s), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
3. Genital psoriasis
Genital psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease that isn't contagious or sexually transmitted. For someone with psoriasis, skin cells grow much faster than normal, which can result in itchy, red patches on the genitals and other parts of the body. This skin condition can be triggered by stress, injuries to the skin and other factors.
It can't be cured, but the proper treatment, which typically includes topical creams, can be effective in managing any symptoms.
This age-old sexually transmitted disease (STD) comes in different phases that can become more severe as time goes on if treatment isn't sought.
"Primary syphilis is marked by a firm, painless ulcer. This can progress to secondary syphilis, marked by a non-itchy maculopapular rash on the palms, soles and some genital lesions," Asafu-Adjei said. "Latent syphilis and [syphilis] in later stages can result in brain or heart damage, so this should be evaluated by a doctor and treated to avoid these effects."
For primary, secondary or early latent syphilis, the CDC states a single injection of long-acting benzathine penicillin G can cure the early stages of the disease. Additional doses can cure late latent syphilis.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and is the most common STI in the United States. HPV typically clears on its own within two years, but the genital warts it causes can be treated with prescribed medication. However, several strains of this virus play a role in some benign penile lesions, as well as in some precancerous lesions.
"Genital Bowen's disease or erythroplasia of Queyrat should be biopsied and monitored, as it has a high risk of progressing to penile cancer. These are smooth, red, velvety lesions and can be found anywhere on the penis. Premalignant lesions should warrant a trip to the doctor's office," Asafu-Adjei said.
6. Penile cancer
Penile cancer is rare, with about 2,200 new cases in 2021 in the U.S. Most lesions are on the tip of the penis and are more commonly found in uncircumcised men.
"Men who aren't circumcised need to practice really diligent hygiene because they can develop chronic inflammation when the foreskin traps dead skin cells behind it," said Joseph Pazona, M.D., a urologist in Nashville, Tennessee. "That inflammation can lead to infections or penile cancer, which is rare."
Penile cancers, when diagnosed, have specific treatments depending on the clinical stage. Most men with penile cancer undergo surgery and/or radiation to get rid of the lesion and cancerous tissue.
Whenever you notice anything abnormal on your body—on your genitals or elsewhere—a visit to a doctor should be in order. If you want to recognize abnormalities on your own, you should be aware of how your body typically feels and regularly check your genitals for any lumps. You can do this while urinating or in the shower.
Additionally, it's important to use protection while having sex and openly communicate with your partner(s), because some of these conditions are sexually transmitted.