Should You Ever Exfoliate Your Penis?
- Keeping up with genital hygiene is important.
- Penis skin is thin and delicate, which means it takes extra caution to clean it safely.
- If you try to exfoliate your penis, you run the risk of irritating the skin and potentially causing infection.
On the vast, virtual man cave that is Reddit, an overwhelmingly male user demographic gathers to talk about Call of Duty, cryptocurrency, Megan Anderson and penises.
One commonly deliberated penis-related topic among men? Perhaps surprisingly, it's penis exfoliation.
Some users claim exfoliating their penis improves smoothness and softness, while others insist it increases sensitivity and sexual pleasure.
Reddit claims aside, there is little evidence to suggest there are any actual benefits to exfoliating your penis. The practice could do more harm than good, said Aanand N. Geria, M.D., a dermatologist with Geria Dermatology in Rutherford, New Jersey.
"I typically don't recommend exfoliating the penis because it's a very sensitive area and therefore easy to overdo it," Geria said.
What is exfoliation?
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. There are two types of exfoliation, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):
- Mechanical exfoliation. This method involves physically removing cells with a tool, such as a cleansing scrub, body brush or loofah.
- Chemical exfoliation. This exfoliation method involves gently dissolving dead skin with a chemical, such as hydroxy acid and retinol.
Exfoliating the skin on your face and certain parts of your body can have benefits, Geria said.
"Exfoliation allows for dead skin cells to be sloughed off, which can result in improved radiance and texture as well as fewer breakouts," Geria said.
Can you exfoliate your penis?
You can—but that doesn't mean you should, especially if you have sensitive skin. If you're looking into using an exfoliate scrub on the shaft of your penis, you might want to think again.
Certain characteristics of penis skin make this part of the body ill-suited for exfoliation. It could cause skin irritation in your genital area.
"Penile skin is thinner and more delicate, making it more prone to irritation compared to other areas on the body," Geria said.
Exfoliating the sensitive penis skin could cause tiny cuts and scrapes, according to Greg Paczkowski, M.D., a family medicine physician with Allina Health in Minneapolis.
"These micro-perforations could lead to a bacterial infection," Paczkowski said.
- How to Keep Your Penis Clean: Safe hygiene habits are a good place to start when it comes to improving your sexual health.
- Can I Get Acne On My Penis?: You may notice some strange bumps down there, but they can't be zits…right?
- Does My Penis Smell Normal?: Penis odor is individual, but if it smells off, you can take measures to fix it.
Are there any benefits to penis exfoliation?
Although Geria generally advises people to skip penile exfoliation, he said the practice could benefit uncircumcised penises.
"Once or twice weekly gentle exfoliation may benefit some uncircumcised men to prevent the buildup of dead skin cells," he said.
Does exfoliating your penis increase sensitivity?
Penis exfoliation is unlikely to increase sensitivity or enhance sexual pleasure, the two experts agreed.
"Exfoliating may improve smoothness, but I doubt there would be any effect on sexual sensitivity," Geria said.
How should you take care of your penis for good hygiene?
Although you may want to skip the exfoliating, you should still wash your penis.
"Most often with our genitals, all we really need is water—and maybe a little soap," Paczkowski said.
People who are uncircumcised should retract the foreskin to wash the glans and base of the foreskin with water and, if desired, a low-irritant, mild soap, Paczkowski said. Leading a healthy lifestyle is a critical component of penis health and skincare.
"Generally, staying hydrated and eating a healthy, well-rounded diet will just be good for your overall skin health," he said.
When to talk to a doctor about penis skin concerns
If you are concerned about the health of your penis skin, Paczkowski recommends talking to your healthcare provider.
"If you really are at the point where you think the skin of your penis is so hideous that you need to exfoliate it to be attractive to someone else, I would bring those concerns up to your doctor," Paczkowski said.