Penile Bumps | What Are Penile Bumps (Growth)?
Skin changes (such as appearance of rash, lumps or penile bumps) at or around the penis is always a signs of concern for males and their partners. In some cases it can also be an indication of sexually transmitted infection; however, for most part, the penile bumps are harmless, trivial skin changes that occur as a result of friction, rub or minor skin injuries (1).
Penile bumps are usually physiological and most men notice at or around the time of puberty. In vast majority of cases, these lesions do not require any management or treatment; however, it is important to seek expert’s advice to rule out any pathology.
Physiological Causes Include:
- Penile skin is inherently very lumpy bumpy (especially in relaxed state).
- Trauma or injury (due to vigorous sex or masturbation) can lead to the formation of small bumps.
- Most men experience an increase in the number of penile bumps at the time of puberty. The appearance of these lesions often decreases with advancing age (2).
- Parafrenular glands may also look like warts or pathological lesions yet. Parafrenular glands are much smaller and smoother than warts (2).
- Fordyce spots are also quite confusing and may mimic warts (especially in situations when these glands are extensive or occur in the form of clusters).
- Other common causes include Lymphocoele, Sebaceous cysts or Vestibular papillae.
What Are the Pathological Causes of Penile Bumps?
- Genital warts (due to herpes virus).
- Balanitis (refers to inflammation of glans penis). Most common risk factors include poor hygiene and uncircumcised males.
- Molloscum contagiosum (hallmark of these lesions is typical appearance of bump that is dome-shaped with a central depression).
- Genital ulcer.
- Penile cancer.
What Are the Characteristics of Normal Penile Bumps?
It is fairly easy to differentiate normal bumps from sexually transmitted lesions with the help of physical examination (observing size, color, extent and features of bumps). You may have normal penile bumps if:
- The number or size of penile lumps or bumps is not changing over time.
- The bumps are not associated with any penile or urethral changes (like discharge of pus or blood from bumps or penis, irritation itching or redness or any other signs of inflammation).
- Most bumps are pearly white in color and are concentrated more frequently at or around the corona of penis (though lesions may be widespread).
How Can You Manage Penile Bumps?
Physiological penile bumps are usually harmless and does not require any management. However, you may seek medical advice for cosmetic reasons. It is observed that maintaining healthy habits and reproductive hygiene can often help in managing or preventing penile bumps due to smegma accumulation or skin irritation. In addition, practice safe intercourse and use condoms/physical barriers whenever engaging in romantic relations.
- The bumps are increasing in size.
- Bumps are growing under your scrotal skin or interfering with your day to day activities.
- If bumps are getting inflamed, painful or infected (often penile bumps due to sebaceous cysts grows significantly and may require surgical excision.
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- Rane, V., & Read, T. (2013). Penile appearance, lumps and bumps. Australian family physician, 42(5), 270.
- O’Mahony, C. (2007). 8. Genital lumps and bumps: what is normal?. Trends in Urology, Gynaecology & Sexual Health, 12(2), 25-27.
- O’Neil, C. A., & Hansen, R. C. (1995). Pearly penile papules on the shaft. Archives of dermatology, 131(4), 491-492.